Top 10 Indie-Rock Love Songs!

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Is it just me, or do you guys also wish you could find the kind of relationship that certain musicians sing about?

Case in point: the other day, I was in my car, when that classic Danny's Song by Loggins & Messina came on the radio. (You've heard this song, trust me.) The chorus goes like this:

And even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with ya honey,

And everything will bring a chain of love.

And in the morning when I rise, you bring a tear of joy to my eyes,

And tell me everything is gonna be alright.

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When is someone gonna write a song about me?

Well, admittedly, once, a guy I was dating DID pen a few lyrics inspired by moi. The one line I remember: She's something of a nutter, and she loves peanut butter.

Anyway, my moment of car-radio longing reminded me of a quote from Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity:

What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands--literally thousands--of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss.

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Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

He took the words right out of my mouth. Or, to be more specific, what I've wondered is: Do I long for love because there is a genuine void in my heart or because indie-rock music makes true romance sound so beautiful?

All of this got me thinking about the best indie-rock love songs OF ALL TIME. But, since I didn't quite feel like I was an authority on the subject, I asked Canadian writer Sean Michaels--the man behind one of my favorite music blogs, SAID THE GRAMOPHONE--to pick his top ten.

Here's what he had to say:

Having been asked for the "all-time greatest indie songs", I am being rough with these darlings, dispensing with everything save the most


The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Maps"

You do not have to be a fan of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs to appreciate this song as one of the finest love-songs ever written, a song of yearning & wanting & trusting & knowing ... and yet it is also thunderous, mighty, canyon-leaping! A rock song!*

Arthur Russell - "That's Us/Wild Combination"

Thank goodness for love songs we can dance to - even in tiny little steps, even in the garden, drawing little circles in the dust with our


Joanna Newsom - "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie"

This song is full of longing--longing that is certain it will be answered. The sky is a road, Newsom sings, and "your skin is something that I stir into my tea". She yowls, yes--and beautifully. "I am watching you. / And you are starry starry starry."

The Knife - "Heartbeats"

The electric heartbeat, the synth sizzle, the trilling bloom of the steel drums: It's like the weird & technicolour conversation between two hearts.**

Bright Eyes - "June On The West Coast"

This one's from the days when Conor Oberst was just a precocious, unhappy teenager, writing songs of accidental grace, about an immature love, a wonderful love, with his fingers on acoustic guitar-strings, wishing to be with you.***

Yo La Tengo - "Our Way To Fall"

And here we have just the opposite: a mature love, a deep and knowing love. The re-telling of a moment when it's decades later, a thousand velvet nights between you, a thousand moons and a hundred thousand stars. From perhaps my favorite album of love-songs and close-to-love-songs; a record in shades of twilight.

Wolf Parade - "I'll Believe in Anything"****

I have a thing for love-songs with vaulting drums (see also: "Maps"), and I have a thing for lyrics like these, of fire in wire, olive trees, shaky knees. And I have a thing for songs that open up like fruit, like oranges torn open, jagged and tender.

Arcade Fire - "My Heart Is An Apple"

When I fell in love with this band in 2001, this song was at the centre of every concert. They would play it slow; so gentle, so gentle; so quiet, so quiet. Win would come striding with his lousy guitar into the audience, the acoustic affixed with an apple, strumming & strumming. And in time, at last, at last, its glimmering time-has-stopped bridge... The band would snap fingers, would make hardly a sound at all, (between the click of the light and the start of the dream)... and Régine would arrange her heart in her chest, would wait a hundred impossible moments, and then she would sing.

Silver Jews - "Room Games and Diamond Rain"

Just a country rock song, plainly sung, and yet its lyrics ... *****


*MK NOTE: This is indeed a killer song--and Arcade Fire's cover kicks tushy too.

**MK NOTE #2: I prefer Jose Gonzalez's version of this song.

***MK NOTE #3: My favorite Bright Eyes love song--probably my favorite of all his songs--is "First Day of My Life."

****MK NOTE #4: These guys help to keep the ROCK in rock 'n' roll. They are SOOO good. And one of my big indie-rock crushes, Spencer Krug, is their co-singer and keyboardist!

*****MK NOTE #5: Sadly, no viddy for this puppy exists, and I can't link to mp3's, or Marie Claire might get sued. Sorry, loves.



My girl from Canada: A dude who doesn't speak except to say "I love you": who among us would be able to resist that? Wow. It's out of a movie! (How long have you guys been together?) ... Also, there was some dude on a bike sporting a green rain poncho yesterday in Brooklyn, in the midst of a monsoon, and no one looked cooler ... so ...

Rae: Ah! Long-distance. That changes so much. Why don't you put your dude on the back-burner for now, and happily accept his texts when he writes to tell you how much he misses you, but be more pro-active on finding people in your neck-of-the-woods? Unless you're ready to spend the rest of your life with someone, and he with you (which doesn't sound like the case), I wonder if long-distance is such a healthy idea.


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