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Top 5 Valentine’s Day love songs

Five iconic Top 40 love songs from the 1960s through the 1990s
Valentine main

“EVERLASTING LOVE” – ROBERT KNIGHT - 1967

Carl Carlton – 1974, Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet – 1981 and Gloria Estefan - 1995

Valentine Knight

“Everlasting Love” holds the record for being a Top 40 hit in the most consecutive decades by different performers. In 1967, Nashville singer Robert Knight achieved his sole Top 40 hit with “Everlasting Love,” which reached No. 13. In 1972, Carl Carlton’s cover reached No. 6. In 1981, in a decade filled with Top 40 duets, “Everlasting Love” was given that treatment by Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet, and it reached No. 32. In 1995, Gloria Estefan brought the song to No. 27, with a light Latin dance feel. “Everlasting Love” was written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden who were listening to the successful Motown sound coming from Detroit and wanted to create something similar in Nashville. Robert Knight’s recording of “Everlasting Love,” on Cason and Gayden’s Rising Sons label, peaked at No. 13 and stayed there for two weeks, beating Motown’s Temptations in the No. 14 slot for both of those weeks with their recording of “(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It’s You That I Need.” For thirteen weeks in the Top 40, going into early 1968, radio listeners heard Robert Knight’s plea, “Need you by my side, girl, to be my bride. You’ll never be denied everlasting love.” In 2017, Cason told Goldmine, “Robert was a kind, loving and gentle man and these characteristics were displayed in his smooth but forceful style of singing. He was a pleasure for Mac and I to work with and a dynamic performer in live performances.”

Valentine Carl

Detroit teenager Carl Carlton debuted in the Top 100 in 1968 with the soulful “Competition Ain’t Nothin’.” In 1974, Carlton had his Top 40 debut with his version of “Everlasting Love.” Cason said, “The song was recorded at my Creative Workshop studio in Berry Hill, Tennessee. Bergen White orchestrated the strings, and I sang background vocals with Bergen.” The single reached No. 6 in 1974 and would be the first of two Top 40 hits for Carlton, with the second being the dance hit “She’s a Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked)” in 1981.

Valentine Rex

In 1979, Rex Smith had his Top 40 debut with the love song “You Take My Breath Away” from the television film Sooner or Later which included Smith as one of the actors. This No. 10 gold single was followed by the title song from the film, but did not fare as well, charting below the Top 100. In 1981, Smith returned to the Top 40 with the Akron, Ohio singer and actress Rachel Sweet for their version of “Everlasting Love” on Columbia. The label also released a promotional video of the song with the singers portraying a groom and bride singing the song at their wedding ceremony. Cason shared, “For the 1980s version, I was in New York when they mixed that duet. What was nice is the that it also was on two different albums, both Rex’s and Rachel’s.” For the flip side of the single there was a pair of songs, one from each of the singers’ albums, a similar approach that Columbia took in the prior decade with Simon and Garfunkel’s “My Little Town” single with a Paul Simon song and an Art Garfunkel song on the flip side.

Valentine Gloria

In 1994, Gloria Estefan released the album Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me comprised of a dozen cover songs. The first single, “Turn the Beat Around,” reached No. 13, went gold and was featured in the film The Specialist starring Sylvester Stallone. The second single was the Florida singer’s version of “Everlasting Love,” which reached No. 27 in 1995. Cason concluded, “What a break we got in the 1990s when Gloria recorded it, as it went international in the Latin market too. The record had different dance remixes. There was Emilio’s mix and more. In the Estefans’ Broadway musical, On Your Feet, there is a young girl who sings it, as part of the show’s finale. I’d sign her in a minute if I still had a record company.” In addition to the cassette single, which included a remix, Epic also released a vinyl 45 version of “Everlasting Love” with “Turn the Beat Around” on its flip side, which labels occasionally did in the 1990s for jukeboxes and vinyl collectors.

Valentine Gloria 45

On September 25, 2003, Robert Knight came out of retirement, at the invitation of Vanderbilt University, to perform “Everlasting Love” with Vanderbilt’s Spirit of Gold Marching Band at their half-time show, with Buzz Cason proudly smiling in the stands.

Top photo: rehearsal, Robert Knight center, bottom photo, half-time, Robert Knight bottom left.

Top photo: rehearsal, Robert Knight center, bottom photo, half-time, Robert Knight bottom left.

Badfinger's Straight Up album cover 1971

Badfinger's Straight Up album cover 1971

Valentine Badfinger

“DAY AFTER DAY” – BADFINGER – 1971

Badfinger debuted in the Top 40 in early 1970 on The Beatles’ Apple label with Paul McCartney’s composition “Come and Get It,” which reached No. 7. Later that year after The Beatles disbanded, Badfinger returned to the Top 10 with a catchy love song that the U.K. quartet’s Pete Ham composed, “No Matter What” from their second most successful album No Dice. The group’s most successful album Straight Up arrived the following year and contained two Top 40 singles, “Baby Blue” and its predecessor “Day After Day,” their sole gold single which reached No. 4 in early 1972. Ham’s lyrics celebrated the early days of a relationship, “I remember finding out about you. Every day my mind is all around you.” The quartet was joined by George Harrison on electric guitar and Leon Russell on piano.

The sole surviving Badfinger classic lineup member Joey Molland told Goldmine in 2019, “In some of the concerts that I do, I perform the entire Straight Up album and do all the songs in order including ‘Day After Day.’ George Harrison produced half the songs on that album, including that one.”

Valentine Heat
Valentine Heart 45

“CRAZY ON YOU” – HEART – 1976

The mid-1970s was quite an era for rock bands’ debut albums. In the U.S., there was the self-titled album from Boston, which kicked off with Tom Scholz’s love song “More Than a Feeling.” In Canada, there was Heart, with their album Dreamboat Annie. The group’s first charting U.S. single “Crazy on You,” which reached No. 35, was written by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. Nancy’s melodic acoustic guitar opening erupted into rapid strumming, inspired by Justin Hayward’s playing on The Moody Blues’ “Question,” from the beginning of the decade. Ann channeled her frustration with the state of the world, the impact of the Vietnam War which resulted in the Seattle band’s exile in Vancouver, and missing home, by offsetting angst with a powerful love song. The first verse was filled with anger, fear and disappointment, “With bombs and the devil, and the kids keep comin’. No way to breathe easy. No time to be young.” The chorus presented her escape, “There’s nothin’ left to do at night but go crazy on you.” Romance unfolded at the beginning of the second verse, “My love is the evenin’ breeze touchin’ your skin” and later a confession, “You kept me alive with your sweet flowing love.”

Ann’s passionate relationship continued on the next single from the album, “Magic Man,” which became their first Top 10 hit. In 1977, Heart were able to legally return to the U.S. and transition from the small independent Mushroom label to CBS’ Portrait imprint. Heart then were able to tour the U.S., with “Barracuda” becoming their first hit on the American label, with Top 40 hits continuing through the early 1990s.

Valentine Foreigner

“I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS” – FOREIGNER – 1984

After a string of late 1970s rock hits including “Feels Like the First Time,” “Hot Blooded,” and 1981’s “Urgent,” Foreigner toned downed that urgency with the softer love song “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” which spent ten weeks in the No. 2 position, beaten most weeks by Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” in the No. 1 spot. Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You” single was followed immediately by the intense “Juke Box Hero.” A couple of years later, Foreigner was back in the love song mode with “I Want to Know What Love Is,” rounded out by the New Jersey Mass Choir and Jennifer Holliday on backing vocals. This dramatically powerful recording became Foreigner’s sole No. 1 single, spending two weeks in the top spot. Foreigner co-founder and guitarist Mick Jones’ lyrics declared, “I’ve traveled so far to change this lonely life. I want to know what love is. I want you to show me.”

In Goldmine’s 2011 interview article with the band, we learned that at each concert on their summer tour with Journey, Foreigner would work with local radio and other media to initiate a contest to find a high school choir to sing ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ live on stage with them, and each winning school would receive a grant of $1,000 from the GRAMMY Foundation. Mick Jones stated, “Anything we can do to provide our younger ones with the tools to express themselves through music is our goal in this partnership.”

Two decades later, in 2004, Wynonna Judd brought her rich version of “I Want to Know What Love Is” to the adult contemporary Top 20, featuring Jeff Beck on guitar.

Valentine Metallica

“NOTHING ELSE MATTERS” – METALLICA – 1992

Ten years after John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison made their first recording, The Beatles self-titled album, known as “the white album,” was released. Ten years after James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich formed Metallica, their self-titled album, known as “the black album,” was released, containing three Top 40 singles, more than any of their other albums, “Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven,” and the power ballad “Nothing Else Matters,” which reached No. 34. Hetfield wrote the song on the road while missing his girlfriend, with the key line, “Never opened myself this way,” showing vulnerability that one would not expect from Metallica. On its 20th anniversary, Hetfield told Goldmine, “I didn’t even want to play it for the guys. It was so heartfelt and personal to me. I thought that Metallica could only have songs about destroying things, headbanging and bleeding for the crowd. I certainly did not think it was a Metallica song. When the guys heard it, they were amazed at how much they related to it. It turned out to be a pretty big song and touched a lot of people.” The song celebrated a refreshing relationship of two different people blending in love, “Trust I seek, and I find in you. Every day for us, something new. Open mind for a different view and nothing else matters.”

“Nothing Else Matters” provided a softer break in the middle of Metallica’s Woodstock ’94 set and was dramatically delivered at the end of the decade on their S&M (Symphony & Metallica) live album with The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen.

Valentine Metallica S&M
Have a very happy Valentine's Day 2022 from Goldmine

Have a very happy Valentine's Day 2022 from Goldmine