OA: Samantha Stiles Column February 13, 2009

Love songs can pop up in unexpected places

Sometimes when my boyfriend and I are driving around town, a song will play on a CD and he’ll say, “this one’s for you.”

He has excellent taste in music, a quality I’ve always admired in him.

Most of the time the songs are silly and they’re not all love songs. I guess to him there’s just something about them that reminds him of me.

About a month ago I wrote a column about my constant quest for perfect love songs. It’s only fitting that with Valentine’s Day being tomorrow, I revisit the subject.

A recent, unexpected find was a cover of “Take on Me” by A.C. Newman. It appears on the “Sweetheart” compilation from Starbucks Entertainment available this month in Starbucks stores for $12.95.

A.C. Newman is an indie/alt-country singer from Brooklyn. He has a pretty intense multi-city tour coming up, but no Colorado dates are planned.

I first read about the love song compilation on Pitchfork and decided I had to have it based solely on the pop musicians featured: Death Cab for Cutie, She & Him, DeVotchKa (a Denver-based band), Department of Eagles, Katy Perry, Jessica Lea Mayfield and others.

All of the musicians cover one of their favorite love songs.

I’m really impressed with DeVotchKa, but any band with a violinist who also plays the accordion is awesome. The band describe itself as “a four piece multi-instrumental and vocal ensemble that fuses Romani, Greek, Slavic and Bolero music with American punk and folk roots.”

You may have already heard some of the band’s songs if you’ve seen “Little Miss Sunshine.”

The band plays a show tonight in Denver at the Paramount Theatre.

The “Sweetheart” compilation is outstanding, if you like all love songs all the time. There are a couple flops: “I’m on Fire” sung by Kate Tucker falls short of doing Bruce Springsteen justice, and Lila Downs singing “My One and Only Love” does not impress me. It’s kind of boring from the get-go.

But nothing says “I love you” or “I lust after you” or “I hate you, I love you, I hate you” better than a fine song, and Starbucks has made the ultimate Valentine’s Day mix tape for you.

In case you want to make your own, though, here are some suggestions from one my favorite music bloggers, Carrie Brownstein with Monitor Mix on NPR.org. She had this to say last Valentine’s Day:

“1 — Be prepared to back it up. If you feel self-conscious about intimacy anywhere but in a bedroom, with the shades drawn and the lights off, then don’t put ‘Love in an Elevator’ by Aerosmith on the CD.

“2 — Don’t put a song on the CD that you would be embarrassed to listen to in the same room or car as the person whom you made it for.

“3 — If the relationship is new, or you merely have a crush, go easy on the messages in the song.

“4 — Know the meaning behind the innuendo in songs.

“5 — Don’t be a cliché.

“6 — If you’ve already sealed the deal — two, five, 10 years ago — there’s not too much to worry about.”

I really don’t think you can go wrong with “My Funny Valentine” by Chet Baker or Etta James. I’d avoid the cover by Chaka Khan.

Lately, I’ve been in a Beach Boys mood (come on warm weather) and “God Only Knows” is very romantic and upbeat.



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