One of my first memories is sitting at the bar in my family’s kitchen facing the golden pine cabinets, eating Cap’n Crunch cereal and listening to Jim Croce sing his songs on a small transistor radio we kept on the countertop. In 1972, Croce had a string of hits including “Operator,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” and a love song titled, “Time in a Bottle.”
I was seven, and I wasn’t interested in boys yet, but I loved the concept of keeping time in a bottle — saving every day in a small vial — then spending each one with the person you fall in love with. One line in particular really resonated with me:
I’ve looked around, enough to know, that you’re the one I want to go through time with.
Croce died the following year in a plane crash. There’s no telling how many other love songs he would have written and shared in his lifetime had he lived. Revisiting “Time in a Bottle” this week made me ponder some of my favorite lines from love songs. In “Wichita Lineman,” Glen Campbell delivered the best of the best. His vocals are as smooth as butter, as he describes the yearning of a lineman in love — riding the backroads and thinking about his significant other.
And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.
We had an eight-track tape player in our car and two or three Glen Campbell tapes — one featuring the hauntingly beautiful “Wichita Lineman.” We also listened to John Denver’s “Annie’s Song,” featuring the lines:
Come let me love you, let me give my life to you, Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms, Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you, Come let me love you, come love me again.
There’s no denying that Denver was head-over-heels in love when he wrote that tune. Elton John didn’t write the lyrics to his famous works. He relied on Bernie Taupin to pen the words while the flamboyant piano man crafted the melodies and performed them. In the 1970s, I fell in love with the lyrics of “Your Song.”
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, That I put down in words, How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world.
I loved it in the 1970s and it stayed with me. In 1990, when I married my sweetheart in Victorian Village in historic downtown Macon, my mother’s piano teacher, Emily, played “Your Song” during our wedding ceremony. Fast forward 32 years later, and I still love those words. Elvis Presley had a few love songs in his portfolio, too. He couldn’t grind his hips to the slower music, but still, he delivered powerful performances of the slower songs. In 1961, he gave us a song about the advice of wise men — don’t rush in and fall in love too quickly. In “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” he sang:
Take my hand, take my whole life,
For I can’t help falling in love with
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Roberta Flack sang about love at first sight.
The first time ever I saw your face, I thought the sun rose in your eyes, And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave, To the dark and the endless skies, my love.
I’m not saying I fell instantly in love with my husband when we met over three decades ago, but I definitely felt a spark — something different that I noticed immediately. Marriage wasn’t really on my radar. Still, I clearly remember sitting in a restaurant, looking across the table at him, getting lost in his eyes for a moment, and thinking, “Oh my goodness, is this the one?” And then I understood the words to one of Peter Gabriel’s songs.
In your eyes, the light, the heat, I am complete, I see the doorway to a thousand churches. In your eyes, the resolution of all the fruitless searches.
Though a little on the hokey side, love songs are both romantic and fun to sing. The songs and the performers who sing them successfully describe the indescribable. They put feelings and emotions into words so we know love when we feel it. Most of all, love songs are memorable. What’s your favorite line from a love song? I know you have one.