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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Romanticism and Popular Songs

Everyone claims to know the meaning of the word romantic. The word conveys sentiment and sentimentality, a visionary or idealistic lack of reality. It connotes fantasy and fiction. It has been associated with different times and with distant places: the island of Bali, the world of the Arabian Nights, the age of the troubadours.  Steven Kreis,"The Romantic Era,", 2000)

Romanticism (or the Romantic Era) was a complex artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution. It represented thought that opposed the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. The visual arts, music, and literature embodied the movement as it validated strong emotion.

Lord Byron identified the romantic ideals of a gifted, perhaps misunderstood loner, creatively following the dictates of his inspiration rather than the mores of contemporary society. To quote Byron: "Admire, exult, despise, laugh, weep -- for here there is such matter for all feelings: Man! Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and a tear."

She Walks in Beauty
by Lord Byron (George Gordon) 

She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!

How about the most romantic popular songs? Many, many songs fit the category.Yet "love song"
and"romantic love song" can be cupids of an entirely different color. The strong emotion of romantic love is
vastly different from the emotion evoked by love ballads that may stress longing for love and even the sadness
of lost love. The songs listed in this entry represent popular romantic songs. No good mobile DJ would dare
play wedding reception without having them at hand. This list is in no particular order.

1. "At Last"

Written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film Orchestra Wives and recorded
by people like Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole, the definitive version of "At Last" was done by blues singer Etta James in 1960.

"I found a dream, that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known

Ohh yeah yeah?
You smiled, you smiled

Oh and then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
for you are mine....

At Last"

2. "Moonlight Serenade"

"Moonlight Serenade" was written by Glenn Miller and subsequent lyrics were composed by Mitchell Parish. When Miller recorded "Sunrise Serenade" in 1939, he placed this song on the back. The song, recorded on April 4, 1939 on RCA Bluebird, was a Top Ten hit on the U.S. pop charts in 1939, reaching number three on the Billboard charts, where it stayed for fifteen weeks.The most striking part of the piece was its use of a clarinet-led saxophone section, which is widely considered the classic Glenn Miller style.

"The stars are aglow and tonight how their light sets me dreaming.
My love, do you know that your eyes are like stars brightly beaming?
I bring you and sing you a Moonlight Serenade.

Let us stray till break of day
in love's valley of dreams.
Just you and I, a summer sky,
a heavenly breeze kissing the trees."

3. "God Only Knows"

"God Only Knows" was composed and produced by Brian Wilson with lyrics by Tony Asher and lead vocal by Carl Wilson. The Beach Boys released this song in 1966 on the Pet Sounds album. The song features a complicated melodic structure and vocal harmonies. As producer, Brian Wilson also used many unorthodox instruments, including the harpsichord and French horns that are heard in the song's famous introduction.

"I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I’d be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me"

4. "Unchained Melody"

"Unchained Melody," released in 1955, featured music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret.  It was written as a theme for the prison film Unchained, and Todd Duncan sang the vocals for the film soundtrack. It has become one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, by some counts having spawned over 500 versions in hundreds of different languages. The July 1965 version by The Righteous Brothers became a jukebox standard for the late 20th century, regaining massive popularity when used in the 1990 blockbuster film Ghost.

"Lonely rivers flow to the sea, to the sea,
To the open arms of the sea.
Lonely rivers sigh, wait for me, wait for me,
I'll be coming home, wait for me."

5. "Can't Help Falling In Love"

"Can't Help Falling In Love was written by George David Weiss, Hugo Peretti, and Luigi Creatore, and originally recorded by Elvis Presley. The song was based on "Plaisir d'Amour," a classical French love song written in 1780 by Jean Paul Egide Martini (1741-1816) and it was featured in Presley's album Blue Hawaii, which was adapted for inclusion in the 1961 film Blue Hawaii. It was not sung to his love interest in Blue Hawaii but rather it was sung to his grandmother on the occasion of her birthday. Elvis presented her with a music box, which she opened -- it played the song, and Elvis sang along with it. During Presley's late sixties and 1970s live performances, the song was performed as the finale of the show.

"Wise men say only fools rush in 
But I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay 

Would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes 

Some things are meant to be 
Take my hand, take my whole life too 
For I can't help falling in love with you" 

6. "That's Amore"

"That's Amore" is a 1952 song by composer Harry Warren and lyricist Jack Brooks. It became a major hit, signature song for Dean Martin in 1953. Amore (pronounced somewhat as AA-MAW-REH) means "love" in Italian, giving a general translation in English "that's love." The song first appeared in the soundtrack of the Martin and Lewis comedy film The Caddy, released by Paramount Pictures on August 10, 1953. Filled with passion, the singer compares the feeling to his favorite Italian foods: pizza and pasta fagiole. It's a quirky romantic song poking a bit of fun at Italian stereotypes, something Martin - born Dino Crocetti - had every right to do.

"When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool
That's amore
When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet
You're in love
When you walk down in a dream but you know you're not
Dreaming signore
Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Napoli
That's amore"

7. "My Girl"

"My Girl" is a 1964 recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label which became a number one hit in 1965. Written and produced by The Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, the song became the Temptations' first U.S. number-one single, and is today their signature song. Robinson's inspiration for writing this song was his wife, Miracles member Claudette Rogers Robinson  The song was featured on the Temptations album The Temptations Sing Smokey.The recorded version of "My Girl" was the first Temptations single to feature David Ruffin on lead vocals. Instantly recognizable by its first notes -- "My Girl" used the six ascending guitar notes in the opening riff over the C chord -- a perfect example of a C major pentatonic scale.

"I've got sunshine on a cloudy day
When it's cold outside, I've got the month of May
I guess you'd say
What can make me feel this way?

My girl, my girl, my girl
Talkin' 'bout my girl
My girl

I've got so much honey, the bees envy me
I've got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees
Well, I guess you'd say
What can make me feel this way?

My girl, my girl, my girl
Talkin' 'bout my girl
My girl"

8. "True Love Ways"

"True Love Ways" is a song co-written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty and recorded with the Ray Ellis orchestra in October 1958, four months before the singer's death. It was first released on the posthumous The Buddy Holly Story, Volume 2." The song's haunting melody was inspired by one of Buddy's favorite black Gospel hymns, "I'll Be Alright," which was recorded by The Angelic Gospel Singers. This song was likely inspired by his wife Maria Elena.

"Just you know why - why you and I
Will by and by - know true love ways

Sometimes we’ll sigh - sometimes we’ll cry
And we’ll know why just you and I know true love ways

Throughout the days our true love ways
Will bring us joys to share with those who really care

Sometimes we’ll sigh - sometimes we’ll cry  

And we’ll know why just you and I know true love ways

Throughout the days our true love ways
Will bring us joys to share with those who really care" 

9. "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"

"Can't Take My Eyes Off You" was written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, It was a 1967 single by Frankie Valli. The song became one of Valli's biggest hits. Who can forget the song in The Deer Hunter, the 1978 American Vietnam War drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino? 

"Pardon the way that I stare. There's nothing else to compare.
The sight of you leaves me weak.
There are no words left to speak,
But if you feel like I feel,
Please let me know that it's real.
You're just too good to be true.
Can't take my eyes off you."

10. "I Only Have Eyes For You"

"I Only Have Eyes For You" is another popular song by composer Harry Warren. The lyricist was Al Dubin. The song was written in 1934for the film Dames where it was introduced by Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler.  According to Billboard  magazine, the song was a #2 hit for Ben Selvin in 1934. The orchestras of Peter Duchin and Anson Weeks also figured in the song's 1934 popularity. This song was recorded in 1950 by Peggy Lee, but the definitive version was issued by The Flamingos in 1959, becoming one of their most popular hits. This version peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; later, this version was included on the soundtrack for the 1973 film American Graffiti.

"My love must be a kind of blind love
I can't see anyone but you.

Are the stars out tonight?

I don't know if it's cloudy or bright
I Only Have Eyes For You, Dear.

The moon maybe high

but I can't see a thing in the sky,
'Cause I Only Have Eyes For You."


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