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By Tom Cushing

For Your Valentine: Share Those Favorite Love Songs, Here

Uploaded: Feb 14, 2014

Love and pollen are in the air this day, and unless you're sneezing, you may be humming a romantic tune. After all, the Bard had it right, way back when:

If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it ?

Music is forever plucking heartstrings, and easing heartache ? everybody has a favorite few songs to arouse an emotion or memory, or soothe a hurt. At a particularly difficult turn in the road, I recall loading-up my hound and seeking solace -- tromping through the back country, belting out Billy Vera's famous lament. Whole species may have been endangered in the process, but it helped me, and old Trover the dog even joined-in on occasion. I can lump-up just finding that link on you-tube. Such is the power of song.

As a boomer, I've always felt that my parents' generation had a lock on romance. At least as I've been introduced to that songbook by the likes of Diana Krall, their anthems were lyrical and sentimental, verging sometimes on sensuous, but never particularly salacious. Stardust, Under My Skin, Let's Fall in Love ? great stuff. And the jazz of Ella, Billie or John Coltrane is perfect to set the fuzzy, languid late-on-a-Saturday-evening mood.

I'm also a blues lifer, but in that case for its more overt sexuality. The hard rock-n-roll that derives from that genre picked up its direction and message ? I love Albert Collins, Muddy, the Stones and Led Zeppelin in their place or at the gym, but that setting is not a candlelit seduction scene. When Robert Plant wails "Woman! You-ou Need me," red wine and the sweet scent of roses are not in my predominant mental image.

Motown comes a lot closer for me, and any conversation about Boomer-era love songs Must begin with America's Greatest Living Poet, one William Robinson, Jr. (Smokey). The stuff he wrote (remarkably ? how'd he know?) in his teens and twenties gave life to many a crush or hopeless devotion ("? so much honey, the bees envy me," or "?if you can want, you can need, if you can need, you can care, if you can care, you can love ? call if you want me, I'll be there.")

And his later work is Even better, as in Just to See Her, One Heartbeat and my all-time Number One Cruisin' Together. "Baby let's cruise, let's float, let's fly. And if you want it, you got it ? forever." Whew! The music is played for love ? indeed it is.

I am ridiculously blessed in that my love believes that Etta James' At Last My Love Has Come Along trumps even Smokey's best (it doesn't, but that in no way diminishes my good fortune). She'd also put in votes for Sinatra, Bobby Darin, the Beach Boys and the Everly and Righteous Brothers. I'd also find a place for later Marvin Gaye, and the Mamas/Papas Dedicated to the One I Love.

Okay, so that's my playlist ? on this, The Most Romantic Day of the year: what's yours?