Somewhere around 1953, I suppose, my parents learned to love a tune by the Ink Spots called "My Prayer." They danced to this tune, and fell in love. And I was the result, I guess, of this tune by Georges Boulanger and Jimmy Kennedy.
Three years later, they fell in love with a new version of the song, this one by The Platters. I was two, but I remember hearing it on the radio.
So I suppose there is some DNA-related connection I have with this song, but it is also indisputably (for me) one of the loveliest songs ever written. It's full of florid, sweeping statements of desire (any time a love song has the word "linger" in it, I'm there). "My prayer, is a rapture in blue/in a world far away/and your lips close to mine..." Oh my. Those are some lyrics written with an agenda, as all good love songs are.
But the power of both of these versions of this song, particularly the one by The Platters, is the way the lyrics are merged with the vocal prowress. You could be completely non-English speaking, and hear this tune and know exactly what the singer is saying. And the way both songs end, with impossible notes that can only be fueled by the very passion the song invites... amazing.
I learned this song, by the way, as a tribute to my mom and dad. But I had to quit smoking to pull off the vocal fireworks. I also (and I really hate admitting this) had to drop the song by a half-step. I hope they don't mind, but I know they don't. They're dancing to The Platters version in that space where lovers live on eternally, where even death can't reach.
I have many, many other favorite love songs (if you don't know, my other life is as a musician and songwriter, so songs are kind of important to me). Here is a very brief list of some other love songs I cannot live without:
"In My Life" - The Beatles (but really John Lennon);
"A Case Of You" - Joni Mitchell
"Reconsider Baby" - Lowell Fulsom
"Take This Longing" - Leonard Cohen
"The Way You Look Tonight" - Tony Bennet's version
"You Don't Know Me" - Ray Charles
"Kathy's Song" - Paul Simon
Those are some, there are probably others that I'll slap myself later for not including on this list. But my list is of very limited interest to this conversation. What's interesting is: what is your list? Send us the list of love songs that fill your heart and your eyes with mist and desire and longing and various stirrings of the eternal.
It's almost Valentine's Day, so we should give in to a little of the mushy stuff.