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Songs That Touch My Soul – Valentine’s Day Edition Part One

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We all have them, songs that seem to touch a secret place in your soul – sometimes secret even from you. They can grow and occasionally fester like an open wound, or they can fill you up, inspire you and occasionally even heal you. Sometimes they don't even reflect your musical tastes. They can be shameful secrets that you keep from family and friends. You feel like a drug addict craving your next fix. At times like those you thank the powers that be for MP3 players – the syringe of those suffering with this affliction. This is a special two-part Valentine’s Day instalment of Songs that Touch My Soul.

Valentine’s Day probably originated with the 14th century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (author of the very first work of fiction in English The Canterbury Tales) who romanticised in poetry the legend surrounding several early (Roman times) Christian martyrs, all named Valentine, to fit in with the Medieval court’s fashion for romantic love.

So romantic love is certainly the basis and the reason for Valentine’s Day – well, that and the card and chocolate industry need the yearly boost – but I can’t help but think that romantic love is only part of the story. So in this, edition of Songs that Touch My Soul we will celebrate ALL kinds of love and even heartbreak, because where one goes the other always follows. Just a warning, this may be more than just gently dirty, I frequently fall directly into smut.

Nils Lofgren“Little On Up” – Nils Lofgren

Let’s begin with the purest, most incorruptible form of love; the love of a parent and child. In this song, guitar virtuoso Nils Lofgren (now with the E Street Band) sings a beautiful tale about a father raising his daughter alone. The honestly expressed love, pride, and respect of the lyrics touch a place in my soul that also seems to trigger my tear ducts. But who wouldn’t have a tear in their eye when hearing lyrics like: “I remember your birthday/ your first breath out of the womb/ we were all crying, you were screaming/ it was the most beautiful tune/ God needed mother in heaven/ suddenly it was just you and I/ I felt so shattered and useless/ if not for you, I'd have surely died”. Lofgren’s raw, natural vocals lend themselves beautifully to this sweetly nostalgic tale of one daddy’s love for his perfect little girl.

“Kind and Generous” – Natalie Merchant

It’s not just parents that love their children, sometimes children love them back. Now that I am the mother of a 14-year old daughter I know I understand my parents a lot better, and that understanding has led to a, sometimes heart-swelling feeling of love, respect and pride that I’m their child. This song by the former 10,000 Maniacs frontwoman is exactly what I want to say to my parents. So mum, dad “You've been so kind and generous, I don't know how you keep on giving/ For your kindness I'm in debt to you/ For your selflessness, my admiration/ For everything you've done, you know I'm bound, I'm bound to/ thank you for it….”

“These Words” – Natasha Bedingfield

Imagine your brother is a number one selling pop-star, you get signed to his label and many think it’s because of your older brother’s chart success. The label is piling on the pressure to write a hit pop song. Then your brother goes and writes yet another chart topper. You might hate them, unless you’re the Natasha Bedingfield, then you’ll just write something like: “Now you've gone & raised the bar right up/ Nothing I write is ever good enough/ These words are my own/ From my heart flow/ I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you/ There's no other way/ To better say/ I love you, I love you…” I guess you can love your siblings even when they are more successful. You have to put that rivalry away someday.

“Ugly” – SugababesMutya Buena

Loving your family is important, but more important than that, and more difficult, is learning to love yourself. And for some of us it’s not just our own self-doubt we have to battle. In 2005 the British satellite TV station Sky One aired the programme Celebrity Mingers (the definition for a minger in the Urban Dictionary is “British slang term for someone so appallingly ugly, their appearance can cause gastro-intestinal distress, erectile dysfunction and/or vaginal dryness”) included in the list was Sugababes’ songstress Mutya Buena. The hit song “Ugly”, followed on their next album Tall in More Ways and tells you all you need about her reaction. “Everybody talks bad about somebody/ And never realises how it affects somebody/ And you bet it won't be forgotten/ Envy is the only thing it could be/ People are all the same/ And we only get judged by what we do/ Personality reflects name/ And if I'm ugly then/ So are you…” For the record, I don’t think she’s a minger.

“Bubbly” – Colbie Caillat

This perfect, gladsome, engaging love song captures perfectly the feeling a woman gets when she starts down that road to being truly in-love. The key to this elegant little song’s success is that the simple backing music of acoustic and electric guitar, some synth and drum, accomplices the light-hearted lyrics: “You've got me feelin' like a child now/ 'Cause every time I see your bubbly face/ I get the tingles in a silly place”. And the chorus of “They start in my toes/ And I crinkle my nose/ Wherever it goes/ I always know/ That you make me smile/ Please stay for a while now”…

“Like the Way She Moves” – Chris Isaak

“I was laying in bed trying to catch my breath. Half ashamed half smiling at the things we did. She made it clear from the start it was a one night stand. But I was thinking of ways to make her change her plan.” Ok this isn’t love, but it sure feels like it when it’s you lying in bed sweaty, sated and sleepy, you’ve just had the best sex of your life with a person who also made you laugh. It’s not love now, but why couldn’t it become love? Chris Isaak’s throaty, earthy vocals and the bluesy roots-rock guitar, accent the libidinous lyrics that express just that very feeling. This song is a delightfully lustful, sensuously naughty song that touches me in the centre of my carnal soul.

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