Today, 360°Sound pays homage to February 14th with 14 of our favorite Valentine’s Day songs. All that matters is that “valentine” is in the title. Some of these songs don’t have anything to do with the holiday… or love for that matter. Love is about so much more than love anyways. Hope you enjoy these VD tunes, and please let us know if we omitted some of your faves.
Chet Baker – “My Funny Valentine”
Songwriters: Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Genre: West Coast jazz
This lovely jazz standard written in the 1930s has been recorded by countless artists, but it became singer/trumpeter Chet Baker’s signature song. The lyrical brilliance of this song is that the singer is essentially dissing their lover (“your looks are laughable…unphotographable”) yet they accept them for their flaws (“you’re my favorite work of art”).
Dore Alpert – “Won’t You Be My Valentine”
Songwriters: Frank D’Amico and Herb Alpert
Before Herb Alpert churned out instrumental hits with the Tijuana Brass, he was a teenage crooner who recorded under the name “Dore” Alpert. “Won’t You Be My Valentine” is one of a handful of singles he cut for RCA Victor in the early ‘60s.
Norman Connors – “Valentine Love”
Songwriter: Michael Henderson
Norman Connors is a jazz drummer, composer, and arranger best known for his string of R&B hits in the ‘70s. “Valentine Love,” which features vocals by Michael Henderson and Jean Carne, peaked at #10 on the R&B charts.
ABC – “Valentine’s Day”
Songwriters: Martin Fry, Mark White, Stephen Singleton and David Palmer
Genre: New wave/pop
An album track from ABC’s stellar debut LP, The Lexicon of Love, “Valentine’s Day” showcases Trevor Horn’s ace production, Anne Dudley’s sweeping strings, and singer Martin Fry’s pristine vocals. The lyrics are packed with clever couplets, too. My favorite: When they find you beached on the barrier reef/When the only pleasure treasured is in map relief.
Bryan Ferry – “Valentine”
Songwriter: Bryan Ferry
“Valentine” is a deep cut from Boys and Girls, Bryan Ferry’s sixth solo album and first since Roxy Music’s swan song, Avalon. Boys and Girls largely fits the smooth and sensual mold set by the Avalon album. Check out our interview with the author of the 33 1/3 book on that classic Roxy record.
The Replacements – “Valentine”
Songwriters: Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars
Genre: Alternative rock
This catchy rocker from The Replacements’ excellent fifth album, Pleased To Meet Me, features some of Paul Westerberg’s sharpest writing: If you were a pill, I’d take a handful at my will/And I’d knock you back with something sweet and strong.
Willie Nelson – “Valentine”
Songwriter: Willie Nelson
The sweet and romantic “Valentine” is one of a handful of original compositions on Shotgun Willie’s fortieth album, Across the Borderline. Here’s a great 1990 performance of “Valentine” at Austin City Limits:
Steve Earle – “Valentine’s Day”
Songwriter: Steve Earle
Genre: Country rock
On “Valentine’s Day,” alt-country legend Steve Earle sings that he forgot about the holiday, doesn’t have a card, and flowers were hard to find. So, if you’ll take my IOU/I could make it up to you/Until then I hope my heart’ll do for Valentine’s Day.
Outkast – “Happy Valentine’s Day”
Songwriter: André Benjamin
On “Happy Valentine’s Day,” a highlight from The Love Below half of Outkast’s fifth album, Speakerboxx/The Love Below, Andre 3K takes on the alter ego Cupid Valentino, “the modern-day Cupid.” Check out our interview with Outkast scholar Regina N. Bradley, author of Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South.
Green Day – “Cigarettes and Valentines”
Songwriters: Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool
Genre: Punk rock
Cigarettes and Valentines was to be the title of Green Day’s follow-up album to 2000’s Warning but the master tapes were stolen. Green Day ended up releasing the megahit LP American Idiot in 2004 instead. In 2011, they put out the live album Awesome As Fuck, which featured that lost album’s rockin’ title track. For more on Green Day, check out our interview with Dan Ozzi, author of the fascinating new book, Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore (1994–2007).
Paul McCartney – “My Valentine”
Songwriter: Paul McCartney
Genre: Vocal jazz/traditional pop
“My Valentine” was one of two originals on Paul McCartney’s fifteenth solo album Kisses on the Bottom, which consisted mostly of jazz and pop standards. Macca wrote it for his third and current wife, Nancy Shevall, on Valentine’s Day.
Fiona Apple – “Valentine”
Songwriter: Fiona Apple
Genre: Art pop
A standout track from Fiona Apple’s fourth album, The Idler Wheel…, “Valentine” opens on a self-destructive note: While you were watching someone else/I stared at you and cut myself. Apple addressed the line in Interview magazine, saying “I was a little afraid of putting that line in because I didn’t want to make it sound cool…because I don’t cut myself…I used to be somebody that would cut themselves, and it is about wanting to feel something.”
David Bowie – “Valentine’s Day”
Songwriter: David Bowie
This late-career David Bowie single is not about the lovey-dovey holiday but rather a school shooting. “The subject matter is pretty scary,” Bowie’s longtime producer Tony Visconti told NME. “It’s related to people who go postal, about people who acquire a gun and do awful things with it.”
Snail Mail – “Valentine”
Songwriter: Lindsey Jordan
Genre: Indie rock
Snail Mail is the indie rock solo project of 22-year-old singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan. The title track from Snail Mail’s acclaimed second album, “Valentine,” has heavy ‘90s alternative rock vibes. “The song ‘Valentine’ used to be called ‘Adore You,’ but then I came up with that chorus – ‘Why’d you wanna erase me, darling valentine?’ – and I knew the record would be called Valentine,” Jordan told Pitchfork. “I was like… oh, that’s heartbreaking. That’s so Snail Mail.”
Chocolate, widely associated with Valentine’s Day, is also great for any occasion. Why not pick up some today, and read our rich and creamy list?