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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Write Back Weekend "You Can't Always Get What You Want"

There are many great love songs out there that manage to capture the beauty of first love, the loss of a great love and even the wanting of a new love.

But I always felt there wasn't nearly enough attention given to the love songs about the love stories that have yet to be told. This is how I arrived at last week's semi-Valentine's Day TITMT question: What are, in your opinion, the best songs about pining or unrequited love?

I don't know what it is about love stories that involve loving someone from afar, but they've always been one of my favorite stories to watch unfold. Growing up, I was schooled on the romanticized ways of unrequited love courtesy of soap operas. No one knew how to drag out such longing better than a daily daytime serial. What would be resolved in under two hours in a movie theater could take up to eight months on the small screen. I relished these types of story lines because you started to feel the anguish of the one doing the pining. You sympathized with them and rooted for them. Most of the time it would work out in the end, but the getting there, well that was the fun part.

But in real life unrequited love isn't often equal parts bitter and sweet. In fact, love like this is often more bitter than sweet as many times unrequited love remains unrequited for one reason or another. Sometimes the person is too shy to reveal their true feelings, while other times they do, only to realize their desires are still to remain unreturned. This is the cruel part of love like this. Sure, love ultimately conquers all, but that doesn't mean it has to be mutually exclusive.

Since I have a soft spot for love that is unrequited it only makes sense that I have a long list of songs that have touched me on this very subject. What follows is a semi-complete list that honors such unfulfilled feelings:

1.You Don't Know Me- Jann Arden: There have been many renditions of this song along the way, but Jann Arden's take is my personal favorite. I remember them playing it during the movie My Best Friend's Wedding. More so than this though was the time they played this on Dawson's Creek. In its heyday, DC had one of the best unrequited love story lines in Joey Potter's "best friend who wanted more feelings" for Dawson Leery.

2. She Don't Know Me- Bon Jovi: Although Bon Jovi has had a successful career with a string of top ten hits, one of my absolute favorites hands, down is She Don't Know Me. It's all about a guy who loves a girl from afar who doesn't give him the time of day.

3. Jessie's Girl- Rick Springfield: It's fitting that one of my favorite songs EVER be about one of my favorite types of songs, ever. The set-up alone, of a guy who's in love with his best friend's girl, is priceless. Jessie is a friend. I know he's been a good friend of mine. But lately something's changed it ain't hard to define. Jessie's got himself a girl and I want to make her mine. If that's not one of the best pop hooks in history, I don't know what is. The fact that was sung by a former soap star is just icing on the cake.

4. If You Needed Somebody- Bad Company: This is probably one of the lesser known songs on my list but that doesn't mean it's any less great. If You Needed Somebody came out in the early nineties and boasts such lyrics as, "Should have told you by now, but I cant find the words. If I could show you somehow, but I don't have the nerve..."

5. Hello- Lionel Richie: Hello is one of my favorite songs because it's about the dreamer in all of us. In the song, the guy has been alone with the girl so many times "in his mind". Everything else about his feelings remain open-ended. "'Cause I wonder where you are and I wonder what you do. Are you somewhere feeling lonely, or is someone loving you? Tell me how to win your heart, for I haven't got a clue. But let me start by saying, I love you." Of course these lyrics could also be decoded as borderline stalker-like. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

6. Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad?- Def Leppard: It's hard to think that any Def Leppard song is on the best of anything list, ever, but this song has always stuck with me. The chorus alone says it all, "Have you ever needed someone so bad? Have you ever wanted someone you just couldn't have? Did you ever try so hard, that your world just fell apart. Have you ever needed someone so bad?"

7. My Heart Can't Tell You No- Rod Stewart: This song is a bit of a twist on the unrequited love theme. Here the guy is torn up because the girl has another boyfriend, but strings him along anyway. He can't turn her away though, because his heart, can't tell him no, see? "When the one you loves in love with someone else, don't you know its torture, I mean it's a living hell. No matter how I try to convince myself, this time I won't lose control. One look in your sad eyes and suddenly, my heart can't tell you no."

8. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend- The Party: Back in the early nineties, one of my favorite bands was the underrated The Party. They were written off, because they were manufactured, teenagers, and born out of the Mickey Mouse Club, no less. Despite all of this, they had a great few albums with some songs that remain my favorites till this day. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend was a song about unrequited love for the teen set. Simplistic in nature, and entertaining, too.

9. When You Walk In The Room- Paul Carrack: Another lesser known gem, in both the song, and the artist. When I had a crush on a boy back in high school I used to play this song. It's a remake but I love this version the best. It's all about the other person and how they don't know you are alive. It also describes how someone in this position feels that everyone else must know how they are feeling, even though it's rarely true.

10.Have You Ever?- Brandy: This is a song I would have easily overlooked had I not seen someone else write about it not too long ago. Have You Ever? is another song about the belief you've found the right person for you, but how the other person just doesn't feel the same.

11. I Want You To Want Me- Cheap Trick: How could you not include a classic unrequited love song like I Want You To Want Me on a list like this? I Want You To Want Me because it takes a serious topic and actually makes it fun, completely forgetting how a person with true feelings might really feel.

12. I Can't Make You Love Me- Bonnie Raitt: There's something haunting about the song I Can't Make You Love Me. In this song, the two people are together, but they are either not in love or no longer in love. It's unclear where they stand really. I prefer to look at it from the perspective of the one person is hoping the other one starts to have the same feelings but in the meantime, they'll take what they can get.

13. Oh No- The Commodores: Before Lionel Richie said Hello, he was keeping it real with The Commodores on Oh No. There aren't a lot of lyrics in this song, but that doesn't mean the message still isn't there. Oddly enough, I remember this song being used in the movie The Last American Virgin. It fit perfectly for the teen who wasn't getting the girl and stayed with me all these years.

14. Crazy For This Girl- Evan and Jaron: When I listen to the lyrics of Crazy For This Girl I hear a story of a guy and a girl who have a relationship, but they are friends and nothing more. The girl cares about the guy, but she still doesn't like him in "that way". "Would you look at her she looks at me, she's got me thinking about her constantly, but she don't know how I feel. And as she carries on without a doubt, I wonder if she's figured out I'm crazy for this girl."

15. Dream- Everly Brothers: Dream is such a simple song, but it's also one of the first of its kind to capture such feelings. It's sweet-natured approach is also refreshing. "I can make you mine, taste your lips of wine, anytime night or day. Only trouble is, gee whiz, I'm dreamin' my life away."

16. At the Library- Greenday: Although Greenday has gone on to have major success with many, many hits, At The Library is one of my favorite songs of them from the "before they were famous" days. It's all about the high school angst, a whole other sub-category of pining. Staring at someone in chemistry or say, "at the library".

17. Just My Imagination- Babyface and Gwenyth Paltrow: First of all let me say that I'm fully aware of the fact that Just My Imagination was not originally done by Babyface and Gwenyth Paltrow. That doesn't mean though that this isn't my favorite rendition. I love the daydream aspect of this song. I also like the fact that they turned it into a duet. As an added bonus, I think Paltrow kicks ass here.

18. Brass In Pocket- The Pretenders: One day, in the not so distant future, I plan on doing a music video related post. You remember those, right? Anyway, when I do, be forewarned that Brass In Pocket will make the cut. It's a song all about a girl who's determined to pull out all the stops to get the guy of her dreams to notice her, but to no avail.

19. Alone- Heart: I can still remember how huge Alone was when I was growing up. I don't know if I picked up on it's pining significance back then, but I made up for it in time. It's all about how the girl really was fine being on her own, and then she met HIM. Now she's wondering, how can she manage to tell him, to get him alone?

20. Can't Get You Off Of My Mind- Lenny Kravitz: I always thought this song was a bit haunting. This is a guy who isn't sure he wants to be in a relationship, but his mind has other plans for him. So now he's wondering, could she feel the same?

21. Love and Affection- Nelson: Before we had Evan & Jaron, there was Nelson. Two guys who sang about the girl they couldn't have. That's why I consider Love and Affection the Crazy For This Girl, part one. Say what you will about Nelson, but they hit the nail on the head when it comes to wanting what they couldn't have.



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