Local Rhythms – Post-Millennial Valentine’s music

For my money, the most romantic song ever is “Save the Last Dance For Me” – because of the story of how it came to be written.

Doc Pomus was stricken with polio as a child. So the songwriter, who penned classics like “This Magic Moment” and “Lonely Avenue,” stood at the altar on crutches as he married Willi Burke in 1957.  Later at their reception, he encouraged his new bride to dance, even though he couldn’t.  She did and he watched, admiring of her beauty and amazed at his good fortune.

A few years later, he found a wedding invitation in a hatbox. Remembering the way he felt that night, Pomus began to write on the back

“You can dance every dance with the guy who gives you the eye, let him hold you tight.

He ended with:

“Don’t forget who’s taking you home, and in whose arms you’re gonna be; darling, save the last dance for me.”

60 years later, those sentiments still resonate. But where are the similar songs by today’s artists?

Every year, I make a playlist for Valentine’s Day.  It’s invariably top heavy with old songs, and inevitably the exercise leaves me feeling fossilized.

So this time around, I challenged myself to focus on the modern, and choose ten songs released in 2000 or later.

Does this generation have a Van Morrison?  Has anyone written a song in the last 10 years to rival “Someone Like You”?

Soul music gave us Al Green and Teddy Pendergrass once upon a time, but the genre has surrendered to hip-hop’s baser instincts

Country, on the other hand, has put down the beer car and picked up the torch, and when it comes to songs about staying together, none can compare to crooners in cowboy hats.

A lot of singer-songwriters made the list, though admittedly a couple of choices might not mean anything to anyone but me.

There’s one dinosaur, too – but trust me, the Henley song’s a gem.

Here’s my list of the last decade’s best love songs:

1.     Alan Jackson, “Remember When”

2.     Norah Jones, “Come Away With Me”

3.     Peter Bradley Adams, “For You”

4.     Vienna Teng, “City Hall”

5.     Chris Smither, “Time Stood Still”

6.     Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly”

7.     Matt Nathanson, “Come On Get Higher”

8.     Brad Paisley, “Then”

9.     Don Henley, “For My Wedding”

10.   Michael Bublé, “Everything”

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, Feb 11: Proctor Academy Music Ensembles, Flying Goose Pub – Thursday nights in New London are back in a big way, with upcoming shows from Vance Gilbert (2/25), Catie Curtis (3/25) and Willy Porter (4/25). Tonight, however, is devoted to the stars of the future, with young musicians from the Andover prep school showing their stuff on trumpet, guitar, flute bass, drums and vocals.

Friday, Feb. 12: Haiti Benefit, Hanover High School – The Gully Boys, Daley Double, Cindy Geilich and Hanover High a capella groups perform a special “Valentine for Haiti” variety show to raise money for Partners in Health, an organization that’s been helping poor countries for over 50 years, that sprang into action soon after the earthquake struck Port-Au-Prince.  Tickets are $10/adults and $5 /students.

Saturday, Feb. 13: Mardi Gras & Valentine Ball, 33 Bridge Street in Bellows Falls – Two Vermont-based bands playing Louisiana inspired music are featured in a benefit for local independent radio station WOOL-FM.  Lil’ Orphans Cajun Express and the Black Sheep Brass Band’s appearances can only be heightened by the afterglow of the New Orleans Saints’ stunning victory in the Super Bowl. $15 tickets include a Cajun buffet and beads.

Sunday, Feb. 14: Pete Merrigan, Digby’s – Pete spent the week in Florida playing some of his old haunts, and returns to the Granite State for an après-ski party indoors at the bar/restaurant where he holds down Sundays during the summer months.  Hopefully, he’ll bring a warm weather glow to the Valentine’s Day revelry; I’m craving sunshine these days.

Tuesday, Feb. 16: Open Mic, Benning Street Bar & Grill – Hosted by Jim Ruffing and Mike Benoit, this is the latest open mic to start up in the area.  Most music at this West Lebanon complex happens in back at Electra, but this happens in the main room, where there’s plenty of good food and TV in case the talent wears thin, or if you’re nervous while waiting your turn to play.

Wednesday, Feb. 17: Rubblebucket Orchestra, Green Mountain College – A musical collective recently likened to a musical love child of Brooklyn and New Orleans, Rubblebucket specializes in hypnotic rhythms and has won many accolades in the short time they’ve been together, including the most recent Boston Music Awards live act of the year.  This show is a bit of a drive, but worth every mile.

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