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BARRY LEVINE: Love songs put romance in the air

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Lionel Richie and Diana Ross (Special photo)

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Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams (Special photo)

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Percy Sledge (Special photo)

With Valentine’s Day a scant two days away, here’s the alphabetical list of our favorite vocal love songs since 1965. Hope one of your favorites is on the list.

“Always and Forever,” by Heatwave, 1978. The multinational group, which formed in Germany, had three Top 20 hits in 1978. “Always and Forever,” a pledge of eternal love, has developed into a favorite at weddings.

“Cherish,” by The Association, 1966. Written in 30 minutes by Terry Kirkman, one of the six members of The Association, the song reached No. 1 in the fall of 1966 and remained there for three weeks.

“Endless Love,” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, 1981. One of the greatest love songs of all time, this tune by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie remained No. 1 for nine weeks, one of the longest runs at the top in history. This was the most successful Motown song in its history and also was the most successful song by a duo.

“Hey Jude,” The Beatles, 1968. “Hey Jude” was the Beatles most successful single remaining in the top spot for nine weeks. No. 1 for nine weeks, the song also established two other records. It is the longest song (7 minutes, 11 seconds) to reach No. 1. It also entered the Top 100 at No. 10, the highest of any single at that juncture.

“I Just Called to Say I Love You,” Stevie Wonder, 1984. The producers of the film “Woman in Red” asked Wonder to compose the soundtrack for the movie. Written for the movie, the song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

“I Will Always Love You,” by Whitney Houston, 1992. This originally was a No. 1 hit for Dolly Parton who wrote the song. Houston, who performed this song in the movie “The Bodyguard,” had her most successful tune with “I will Always Love You” as it was No. 1 for a staggering 14 weeks.

“Mandy,” by Barry Manilow, 1975. This was the first of Manilow’s 26 chart singles and the first of his three No.1 hits. Manilow is one of the best at “selling” a love song.

“Michelle,” by the Beatles, 1966. Co-written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, “Michelle” is featured in their “Rubber Soul” album. “Michelle” won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1967 and has become one of the best-known and often-recorded of all of the Fab Four’s songs.

“My Love,” Paul McCartney and Wings, 1973. The ex-Beatle’s inspiration for the sentimental ballad was Linda Louise Eastman, a professional photographer before she married McCartney on March 12, 1969.

“My Heart Will Go On” (Love theme from “Titanic”) by Celine Dion, 1998. The fourth of her five No. 1 hits, Dion’s song became a favorite because the film’s fans never will forget the classic love song and its role in the movie.

“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” by Roberta Flack, 1972. This was Flack’s first commercial success and what a success it was, remaining in the No. 1 spot for six weeks. This was the longest-running chart-topper by a solo female performer since “The Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant in 1956.

“The Power of Love,” Celine Dion, 1994. The song had moderate success when recorded by Jennifer Rush, Air Supply and Laura Branigan. When Dion recorded the song, it became a No. 1 hit for four weeks.

“The Way We Were,” by Barbra Streisand, 1974. Streisand first charted in 1964 when “People” rose to No. 5. It then took 10 years for her to get her first No. 1 hit when “The Way We Were” hit the top of the charts. The theme from the tear-jerker movie starring Streisand and Robert Redford remained No. 1 for three weeks.

“Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” by Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams, 1978. This was one of the best love songs by a duo and Mathis’ first chart single since “What Will My Mary Say?” in 1963. This also marked the first time in his long career that Mathis’ sung a duet.

“Vision of Love,” by Mariah Carey, 1990. She described this as not so much of a love song as a celebration of her life at that time. It was No. 1 for four weeks.

“When a Man Loves a Woman,” by Percy Sledge, 1966. This love song became an instant standard and has been covered countless numbers of times. The No. 1 hit remained at the top spot for two weeks.

“You are the Sunshine of My Life,” Stevie Wonder, 1973.This was the third of Wonder’s 10 No. 1 hits. With Wonder evolving as a singer, this song concentrated on pure love and adoration.

“You’re My Soul and Inspiration,” by the Righteous Brothers, 1966. This was the second No. 1 hit for the duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield and certainly one of their best love songs.

“You’re the First, My Last, My Everything,” Barry White, 1974. White’s soulful sound made this a classic, especially considering it was written as a country song.

To one and all: Have a happy Valentine’s Day.

Barry Levine writes entertainment stories for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at dot0001@yahoo.com.