If you’ve ever been asked to list your six favourite love songs, you’ll know how hard that is!
I love music and I have a bunch of Spotify playlists that help me block out the world while I write. I’m a massive lyric geek. A sub-standard lyric can ruin a song for me (and don’t get me started on ungrammatical lyrics!). Music is a special version of poetry and I was raised on poetry, so listening to lyrics that speak passion and complicated emotion is an incredibly powerful creativity prompt. For Love Song, I listened to a lot of Dan Sultan, especially the song Hold It Together. The character of Charlie owes a lot to Dan Sultan!
Here are six love songs that I absolutely adore. I tried to choose one for each decade, but I discovered that I’d skipped the 70s in favour of a second 80s song. Forgive me – I know there are some gorgeous 70s love songs but I couldn’t think of one that spoke to me. And let’s face it, the 80s was a renaissance of love songs!
1960s: Brown-Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)
What brown-eyed girl doesn’t love this song?
Apart from being a great song to dance to, it’s got a wonderful, dreamy nostalgic quality. The guy is remembering an old teen romance – sneaking around, hiding behind the stadium. Lines like 'standing in the sunlight, laughing' hold all that beautiful youthful adventure we remember from old romances. I’ve always loved this song and it has a magical way of evoking the 17-year-old Charlie and Beth’s secret love affair.
1980s: Head Over Heels (Tears for Fears)
I’m such a Tears for Fears fan! I love this song because it reminds me of my first sweet romance at eleven years old. It speaks about that overwhelming quality of early love – the sensation when you first meet someone special and you can’t stop thinking about them; when you get a little thrill of excitement and terror every time you remember that you’re going to see them again. In Love Song, Beth had a singular plan when she was in year twelve: ace the year and get into medicine at university. She’d never experienced or anticipated anything like what Charlie made her feel and suddenly all she cared about was that she didn’t lose him.
1980s: All I Want Is You (U2)
This was Tom’s choice for the dance he won with Willow and it’s pretty obvious why: it’s about the stupid complications we impose on ourselves when sometimes things are quite simple. That lyric about ‘the promises we made’ just hits you in the heart. This song also applies to Charlie and Beth, who thought they would be together forever but found themselves far more easily broken than either had dreamed. This song asks, can we get past the old promises, fears and rules and simply trust in love?
1990s: I Love You, Always Forever (Donna Lewis)
This is the song I imagine as the teaser soundtrack for the Dear Banjo film! Every time I hear the line 'You’ve got the most unbelievable blue eyes I’ve ever seen' I think about Willow seeing Tom for the first time after 10 years apart. This song is just magical with its utter certainty – that feeling that your love with the one who is ‘meant to be’ is unbreakable.
2000s: A Thousand Miles (Vanessa Carlton)
Apart from the wonderful piano and Vanessa’s sweet voice in this song, we all know exactly why this is a top love song: it expresses that feeling of missing someone, longing for them, and the sense that if there was any way at all to be with them, we would. Definitely a Charlie and Beth song.
2010s: Is This How You Feel? (The Preatures)
I love the way this song captures the uncertainty of a new relationship, when you’re having big, scary feelings and you don’t know if the other person is, too. It takes a vast amount of courage to admit your feelings when you could get hurt. A lot of the time you have to rely on instinct and cues that are easy to misread, so I think we are constantly asking ourselves 'is this how you feel?' of the other person. For Beth, who had her trust broken years ago, this uncertainty is something that consumes her when Charlie comes back into her world.
My list of favourite love songs is a Spotify playlist that you can listen to here. I hope you enjoy it.