Greetings from the gutter.
That’s where my mind is at the moment, and in honor of Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, I’m going to spend the weekend splashing around down here, paying musical tribute to the next best thing two people can do together after falling in love (which, if you’re lucky, will lead to even more of this).
For those who prefer some music on the side, I’ve curated the perfect V-Day soundtrack. I didn’t realize until I was halfway through that it’s dominated by male performers. Female singers may move me more overall, but I suppose it’s the guys who put me in the mood.
“Heaven Hooked Us Up” Love is so much more than just a four-letter word. It’s also Ronald Isley’s velvety tenor melting like butter over a smoking red-hot Isley Brothers groove.
“Don’t Stop the Dance” Bryan Ferry Not quite better than sex but close. Am I the only one who thinks Ferry spends most of his waking hours making love, pausing occasionally to crank out another great song to do it to?
“Sanctified Lady” Marvin Gaye Sexual healing at its most potent.
“Your Love Is Like the Morning Sun” Al Green The seminal soul of the 1973 Call Me album, which serves up this gem of a love song halfway through, is Green at his seductive peak, the perfect score for the perfect love that closes with an ode to the god of love himself called “Jesus Is Waiting.”
“Cruisin'” D’Angelo Like sex on a stick — and I’m not just talking about the guy who’s singing it.
“A Bit Old-Fashioned” Babyface A bracing musical testament to the power of heterosexual love (from For the Cool in You, one of the best R&B albums of the ’90s).
“Sara Smile” Daryl Hall and John Oates Before the duo became ’80s icons, Daryl Hall was one of the earliest — and best — purveyors of blue-eyed soul. Along with the first 20 seconds of “One on One” (a Top 10 hit from 1983 that deserves to be more widely, and fondly, remembered today) this might be the best thing Hall and Oates ever did — at least that’s what I’m thinking today, down here in the gutter.
“Sho’ You Right” Barry White Let’s raise the tempo and get this party for two started! When I interviewed White years ago, he commended me for having the good taste to love this song. I, in turn, applaud UK music buyers, who once again showed their superior (to their Yankee counterparts) musical sophistication by sending this to No. 14, which is three notches higher than it went on the U.S. R&B chart. Fo’ real.
“Love It” Bilal Another one of life’s great mysteries: Why do so few people know Bilal’s name — and even fewer this song, one of the greatest things to come out of late-’90s/early ’00s neo-soul movement?
“Lovers Rock” Sade What would any musical celebration of love be without her?