The best songs are love songs, though songs about ogres and magic battles are a close second — and only when the genre is 70s prog-rock.
I call them love songs, but more often than not they're also songs about loss. The themes are simple and recurring: Not eating, not sleeping, the physical pain in your ches, wanting forgiveness, wanting to forgive, just wanting someone to love you back to you so badly. There may be no more perfect lyric in the lexicon of love songs from the past hundred years than "I need you."
The words are often trite and the language simple, but they get to the heart of the thing. Whether it's Otis Redding talking about the pain in his heart, imploring someone to love him:
Or Sam Cookie asking for forgiveness and another chance:
Or Janelle Monae — a newer entry but fast-growing favorite of mine — describing the emotional, hyperbolic devastation of losing someone you love:
These are love songs.
A step to the left outside the theme of the previous songs, but here's another beautiful love song tinged with melancholy that's showed up on my playlists lately.
It's by a group you've probably heard of:
"And these memories lose their meaning. When I think of love as something new."
Even when we're singing about loving someone in the present there's that touch of reminiscence for things in the past.
Happy Valentine's Day.