Everyone loves a great love song. Passionate hyperbole about the glowing light of romance's grand glory that can uplift and soothe an aching heart or nurture love's first embrace. Really, love just wouldn't be the same without great song to accompany it. There's just nothing better than hearing hit those high notes in or letting loose on
But songs such as Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" or Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" are classics -- and it's high time for them to be retired. In their place a new crop of love songs has grown -- a more realistic, less idealistic, more sarcastic, and a little less ecstatic breed of musical paeans that tell the story of love from a more down-to-earth perspective.
Unsurprisingly, many bands and artists in the Valley's music scene have penned their own odes to love -- some are breakup songs, while others are tumultuous tales of love affairs, and a few are even about love of a substance.
"Lay Me Down, Let Me Down" by D.G. Scherrer
Marc Oxborrow of The Haymarket Squares has called Daryl "D.G." Scherrer "the greatest songwriter to ever come out of Phoenix," and perhaps it was after giving the song "Lay Me Down, Let Me Down," a good listen. On the recording, which features a solo performance by Scherrer, the song is a haunting ballad to love lost. When it's performed live with Haymarket Squares backing it up, it is one of the saddest things you will ever hear (in the good way, if that makes sense).
The song is just a beautifully composed old school country love song. "Try try try not to die alone / But love was always such a disappointment," sings Scherrer in his one-of-a-kind baritone of a man who was never fortunate enough to meet someone who really loved him.
"Cotton, Jane Doe" by decker.
This is a song about that melancholy kind of love where you and the S.O. may be at an impasse and don't know what to do. Maybe because they're not what you expected. As Brandon Decker sings, "Give me one moment that is real / Give me back all those moments which you steal / Well, I'll show you inner strength / When you show me you're not a fake." As the song progresses, the singer seems to find his way: "Pretend we never said what we said / Or meant what we did / If I could get a sincere word out of you I think I'd take a shit cause you did do what you did." By the end, he seemingly resolves himself to sort out his love problems. No one ever said that matters of the heart were easy.
"Can't Take Me" by The Freaks of Nature
Daniel Shircliff (or Buford Wigglebottom, depending on how well you know him) is one of Phoenix's most-renowned lead singers. He is a high-energy proto-punk performer who never slows down during a show, and interestingly enough many of his band's songs are about love. Wild, crazy, insane, intense, cannot-take-it-no-more love. "Can't Take Me" is one of those tracks. "I know you love me but you can't take me" is about the kind of love in which the partners cannot handle each other, and honestly judging by his high level of energy and enthusiasm, I'd bet Shircliff is a hard lover to take. The song is a fast-paced garage rock tune that's tons of fun. Weird, too.
"Weights on the Scales of my Heart," by Matt Braman
Matt Braman is definitely not the most famous songwriter in Phoenix -- in fact, very few people have really heard of him at all. But that does not change the fact that his song "Weights on the Scale of My Heart," off his 2006 debut album, Headshots for the Undead, is one of the best love songs ever written by a Phoenician. Its satirical lyrics feature sentiments everyone can understand, if they've ever endured any sort of frustration with a paramour: "I love your Dr. Jekyll / But I hate your Mrs. Hyde / I'm not sure if I should murder you / Or keep you by my side." For one minute and 41 seconds, Braman walks the listener through a tumultuous relationship, weighing the pros and cons of being with his partner. The acoustic guitar track is simple enough, and the lyrics are fairly straightforward. It's just an easy song to relate too for just about anyone who has ever been in a relationship.
"Sense" by The Hourglass Cats
Love cannot be forced, and it is something that has to be grown organically. And it was with this very notion in mind that Cori Rios wrote "Sense" at age 16. Nearly a decade later, Rios and his band The Hourglass Cats put the song on their debut EP, 432. It's a three-minute ode to Rios' one true love, which just happens to be named Mary Jane, and how "it ain't her fault that she grows straight from the ground," according to the lyrics.
In case you're not picking up on his particularly skunky-smelling drift, it's a song about a love affair with cannabis, which is a fitting track for a band whose initials are THC. Naturally, a love song about pot undoubtedly will be a popular one, but the Cats did a great job of making a sweet-sounding reggae love song that -- besides the lyrical allusions to weed -- could easily be about a relationship.
"Breakup Anthem" by Wolvves
"Go to Fifth Street, talk shit / Put up a flier with your picture saying 'lost bitch.'" Really romantic stuff, right? Well, that's just how Wolvves frontman Aydin Immortal and his pack of Will Smith Spartans are. Not every love song needs to be about longing or want; sometimes it can be about being over it. And here's one way of letting a lover know that even in love, when it's over it's over via the song: "I love my life too much to think about you." Ouch. Wolvves was one of the hottest bands locally, and, like all great love songs, "Breakup Anthem" will endure as one of the best in Phoenix.
"Forbidden Love" by The Haymarket Squares
The Haymarket Squares are one of the only bands on this list that is actually going to be in action on Valentine's Day (as they're performing at Tempe's The Sail Inn tonight) and they will almost assuredly be playing their waltz "Forbidden Love." Their infectious tune about a torrid love affair between an "old washed up punk" and a rich Republican is not only hilarious, but it's also -- like all Haymarket Squares tunes -- tremendously witty and well put together. "I fell in love with a Republican and as long as the money lasts/We're gonna have some fun/Viagra and coke makes me feel 21." Who can't relate to lyrics like that?
"I Wish You Wasn't My Cousin" by Ray Reeves
"Baby, I wish you wuzzin my cousin" sings Reeves in a far more subdued voice than just about any other song he's ever sung. The usually out-of-control frontman is rather tame when singing this "political, science-fiction, country, anti-Western love song about 'Merica." But just because the song is an obvious satire doesn't mean it isn't a great song. The lyrics are funny if you don't look too deep, and they are as poignant as Reeves's own personal anti-incest message. But either as a silly satirical love song or strong message against keeping it in the family, it's a song that's pretty easy to slow dance to.
"I Don't Fucking Think So" by Fathers Day
This is obviously one of the most heartfelt songs that Fathers Day frontman Douglas Patton (a.k.a. Ryan Avery) ever wrote. It's a classic ballad -- and by "ballad" we mean "scream-filled noise punk song" -- from a divorcee to his estranged wife asking her to bring her love back into his life. He just happens to put it out there with a few preambles such as, "I swear to baby Jesus if you make me sit down when I pee / I'll say I don't fucking think so." Douglas really bares his soul in this track telling his ex Darla that, "If you come back to me / I'll welcome you with open arms / But if Margaret shows her ugly face / I'll say I don't fucking think so." Gotta set boundaries, yo. The track is really about how he's willing to sacrifice anything except his individuality for his ex, and if you hear the album version of the track, it continues into a rendition of "I Will Survive," by Gloria Gaynor.
"Love Is Like a Stabbing Pain in the Dick," by Andy Warpigs
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Andy Warpigs tells an all-too-familiar kind of story with his song "Love Is Like a Stabbing Pain in the Dick," specifically, the story of love that wasn't meant to be. It's about a boy telling the girl of his dreams that he loves her and finding out that it's unrequited. For some, those moments can hurt their pride, while for others, such a thing can feel like someone pulled out your heart and stomped on it. For Andy Warpigs, said moments feel as though someone "stuck it in (his penis), and broke it off on both ends." Yikes. But as with many lovesick songwriters, in the end he was still in love.