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C Margery Kempe’s Love Songs

“Hi, C. Margery Kempe here: I write erotic romance which disapproving people like to call smut, but it’s really about love and romance — well, yes, and the hot and heavy sex that it leads to in gloriously sensuous detail. Okay, you might still call that smut, but I think it’s very sweet.”





You can click on the song titles to play them in Spotify, or click here to listen to the whole list.


Because the Night – Patti Smith

This list would be different every day (it’s changed since I started it!) but this is likely to always be there. “Desire and hunger is the fire we breathe.” The genesis of the song sounds like many a love story, too. The coincidence of Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen recording in adjacent studios led to a collaboration. Patti tinkered with the lyrics to make them her own, but they both do incredible versions. Because the night does belong to lovers.


Into My Arms – Nick Cave

The lovely thing about this song is the transformation of the narrator, who loves someone who has a faith he doesn’t, but it gives him hope and a belief in possibilities. “And I don’t believe in the existence of angels / But looking at you I wonder if that’s true / But if I did I would summon them together/ And ask them to watch over you.” The ache that love can create comes through both in the narrator’s longing to have her walk into his arms and in the quality of Cave’s voice.


Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash

“Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring.” So much fire imagery in love songs, but we do burn with desire. Over his long career, Cash managed to cover a lot of different styles but this rockabillly rouser works so well because it really is elemental. His duo with wife June Carter, “Jackson,” gives an example of how that fire can destroy, too. “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout” but that fire burns out (unlike their own real life story). How much is too much? Hard to tell when it burns, burns, burns.


Like Someone in Love – Björk

I almost used “Aeroplane” instead (“I’m taking an aeroplane across the world to follow my heart!”) but this classic song evokes that hazy feeling the drug that is love often gives you. Lerner and Loewe certainly had a way with the simply effective love song. It’s a mood-altering experience: “Lately I seem to walk as if I had wings, bump into things like someone in love…” Central is the idea that we all know what it’s like and recognise the symptoms. But we do, don’t we?


Rainy Night in Soho – The Pogues

For all his wild times, there’s nobody who can break your heart with a song like Shane MacGowan. He’s written so many masterpieces that will be sung in pubs for many years to come, it was hard to pick just one. I have a long history with London, and this song really captures the romance I have with that city as much as the magical serendipity of love: “I took shelter from a shower / And I stepped into your arms.” It might as well be an Astaire and Rodgers movie. What better way to say, “I love you” than to say, “You’re the measure of my dreams”?


At Last – Etta James

There’s such a sigh of relief to this song about being certain of love. There are always doubts and worries when it comes to love. The certainty and confidence of this song (however fleeting it may be, given the rest of Etta’s catalogue) give her voice such power and triumph. It’s impossible not to hear this and believe (even if you don’t find yourself in love at the moment).


The Sensual World – Kate Bush

Originally Kate wanted to record Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, setting it to music and simply using Joyce’s words. His heirs (who of course benefit from his work having done none of it) refused her and she captured Molly’s sensual reminiscence in tone though not direct words. And it was wonderful: “To where the water and the earth caress / And the down of a peach says mmh, yes…” This year she released remixes of old songs and a new version of this with Joyce’s prose and it turns out a much flatter song. Important lesson: overcoming hindrances helps creation (and should we say also, love?).


I’m Falling –  Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3

I have Robyn Hitchcock’s signature in my Moleskin. He’s one of those musicians I just adore. His lyrics often have to do with (as one DVD of his work succinctly summed it up) sex, death and insects, but he’s so delightfully odd and funny, it’s a lot more wonderful than that might sound. In songs like “Intricate Thing” he examines the fun and sensuality of love, even on “the small setee.” Here there’s the fear and doubt: “There’s a thin line between what you are and what you aren’t / I’m afraid of loving you and you’re afraid I can’t.” But there’s a sort of drunken joyfulness, too: “There’s a thin line between what you do and what you should / Every time I cross it I just feel insanely good.”


Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered –  Ella Fitzgerald

I’d almost give the nod to Sam Posner’s less confident version of this delivered in The History Boys as he worships Dominic Cooper, but Ella’s version is just so elegant. Classic lyrics from Rogers and Hart, but they’re plenty saucy, too. “I’ll sing to him / Each spring to him / And worship the trousers that cling to him…” The magic and delirium of love captured so well. Wonderful!


The Whole Wide World – The Proclaimers

I have long loved the original rendition of this from Wreckless Eric, but a special friend shared this version with me and I have become completely smitten. There’s such a heady mix of stubborness, despair and mordant humour, how can you not love it? The terrifying idea that there’s only one person in the world for you, but they might live on the other side of the globe can’t help but make one feel faint. But the grim determination of the singer to “search the whole wide world just to find her” makes you root for his success. All I can say is: I love you, internet! :-) Now the whole wide world won’t stand in the way of lovers for long!


C. Margery Kempe writes erotica and erotic romance with wit and humour, including the sexy spy novel CHASTITY FLAME. Coffee Time Romance gave the novel five cups and said, “CHASTITY FLAME is one thrill ride after another.” UnBound writes that “Kempe is a delightful writer.” Rumours that Kempe is simply K. A. Laity in a hat have not been fully investigated at present, and Laity argues that she in fact looks a lot more like Kit Marlowe (albeit in a different hat).


Love Songs strand in which people share the ten tracks that sum up their love life. Would you like to share your list? Click here for more details.

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Katy’s Love Songs

“Music was incredibly important to me in my teenage years. Obviously, I listened to it before then, and I listened to it after, but it was those teenage angst years where everything seemed so difficult and heart breaking that showed me how music could really sum up an emotion or a time.  It really opened my ears and my heart to what music could mean to people. 

I no longer have time to listen to it in the same enveloping way, three children will do that to a woman, but these are ten of the tracks that have meant a great deal to me over the course of my life.”

You can find Katy on Twitter or at her excellent blog.


You can click on the song titles to play them in Spotify, or click here to listen to the whole list.


Oh L’amour – Erasure

My first serious boyfriend and I were huge Erasure fans.  We got together at about the time ‘A Little Respect’ came out. We bought the record and played it to death.  It was the soundtrack of our summer, but it is this, earlier song that epitomises the feelings I had for him at the time.  It came as no surprise however, a few years later when he announced that he was gay.


China Doll – Julian Cope

This song sums up for me the relationship I had with my first love (not the same as my first serious boyfriend).  Our relationship was intense and full of drama. I was going away to university. He was going into the navy. He wanted me to be a navy wife. I said no. Our relationship lasted until the end of my first term at university and then imploded over the New Year when we met up again for the first time in four months. I realised I loved him but I could not live with him the way he wanted me to. We split up at my instigation. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It took me years to get over him.  I still can’t listen to this without getting a catch in the back of my throat.


Hymn to Her – The Pretenders

This song is all about an unrequited love I had in my third year at university.  I thought I would die of a broken heart when he confessed that he didn’t feel about me the way I felt about him.  We remained friends until after graduation when our lives took us different ways. I hoped he would change his mind about me. He didn’t.


Fallen – One Dove

After a disastrous engagement and nearly marriage to a man I allowed to drain me of all self confidence and hope, I found myself again and fell into a relationship with the man who would become my first husband. The hedonism and excitement of the mad year we spent together before getting married is summed up in this song, which we had played at our wedding.


Praise You – Fat Boy Slim

After a series of miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy that nearly killed me, I finally succeeded in having my daughter Matilda.  We were so thankful for her being in our lives we had a huge party and naming ceremony, and at the end of the service we danced and sang to Praise You by Fat Boy Slim.  A friend also sang ‘Moving on Up’ by Primal Scream, which was amazing, but it is Praise You that always fills me with love for her when I hear it.


Crazy in Love – Beyonce

My second daughter, Tallulah, was born shortly before I split up with her father. Her first year on the planet was a deeply traumatic time in my life, but Tallulah was and is a fierce and tenacious little soul who rode the storm beautifully. When she was about 18 months old her favourite song was Crazy in Love by Beyonce.  Tallulah insisted it was called Crazy Rhino and these are the words she would sing to it. This song sums up everything I love most about Tallulah.  The world bends to her will, not the other way around.


Electrical Storm – U2

When I was divorcing my first husband I met a man who would go on to be my second (and hopefully last) husband. When things were very bad and I needed to escape he took me on holiday to Colorado so that I could clear my head. We were driving through the Rockies one night and this song came on the radio. It always reminds me of our first, tentative months together.


Talizman – Only You

During the dark days of my divorce I had to go for a meeting with my ex husband. It was a soul grindingly awful experience, and I came away feeling like I was the worst person in the universe and why would anyone ever bother to love me or want me? My partner, who is now my husband, came and picked me up.  He sat me in his car, stuck this song on and said: ‘I want you to listen to this song because it is how I feel about you.’  It was one of the best gifts I have ever been given.


Peaceful – Georgie Fame

By the time I met the man I am now married to, I already had two children. He had none of his own, but took my two on without any hesitation and has been the perfect father to them ever since.  He did not want any more children with me. We talked about it and agreed I would have my tubes tied. The night before I was going in to have the surgery he turned to me in bed and said: ‘Please don’t have it done. I’ve changed my mind, and I want you to have our baby.’  About nine months later our son, Oscar was born. It was one of the happiest days of my life.  This song always used to soothe him when he was fractious and it sums up how I felt about him when he was born.


Elton John – Your Song

My husband proposed to me on the threshold of the first house we owned together, getting down on bended knee and asking me to share the rest of my life with him. It was totally traditional and totally unexpected and I melted like butter in the sun.  Three months later we got married in Las Vegas, bling stylie, with our children surrounding us.  It was perfect.  This was one of the songs they played in the chapel as we were getting married. It always makes me cry, in a good way.


Love Songs strand in which people share the ten tracks that sum up their love life. Would you like to share your list? Click here for more details.

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Henri’s Love Songs

Sadly music that is special to me is more often an individual choice rather than tangled with the start (or end) of a relationship, so I only have a few that give that resonance. Perhaps it’s a good thing, otherwise I’d spend too much of my time in a sobbing, snotty pool.


You can click on the song titles to play them in Spotify, or click here to listen to the whole list.


1. Harry Nilsson – Without You

In 1970 something when this came out I hadn’t even had a boyfriend, but gosh this was what I thought it should be about.


2. Adam Ant – Prince Charming

All I can say is you can fool some of the people some of the time.


3. Theme tune to Hill Street Blues

This was on the television when I told my first partner that I was leaving him after 5 years. I couldn’t hear it for years after without feeling cold and scared.


4. Jon Anderson – Song of Seven

The sound track to falling in love with my husband.


5. Elgar  – Nimrod from Enigma Variations

I walked up the aisle to this, my husband’s surname is Hunter.


6. Neil Young – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
7. Gluck – J’ai Perdu mon Euridice
Both are about regret for something lost, that you are afraid you may never find again


8. Philip Glass Soundtrack to The Illusionist

A marvellous film, a fairytale ending and a bit of eyecandy thrown in. May not be “real” love, but it’s a wonderful dream.


9. Fratellis – Henrietta

Nothing wrong with a bit of self love, it makes me laugh and bearing in mind the subject matter, fantasise wistfully.


10. Evanescence – Bring Me to Life

After a long time of feeling invisible and unfulfilled this track, cheesy though it is, sums up my realisation there are still choices and opportunities in my life


Love Songs is a new strand for this blog, in which people share the ten tracks that sum up their love life. Would you like to share your list? Click here for more details.

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Love Songs – Tara Yonder’s List

I’m a pianist (and piano teacher), and music has always been very significant to me. The fragment of a melody, the line of a song, the opening bars of a favourite piece can all trigger a memory. Now in my mid-40s, I’ve been married, mostly extremely happily, for over 20 years. True love, to me, is about companionship, familiarity, comfort. Infatuation: now, that just skews the antenna, nudges the stylus off the record…..ultimately, it’s not very good for you!

You can click on the song titles to play them in Spotify, or click here to listen to the whole list.


Track 1. Hello, I Love You – The Doors

My first boyfriend, Richard, was really into The Doors, and by default, I had to be into them too. I was still at school, while he was in his first year at Oxford. We both wore skin-tight black corduroy trousers and black polo necks, like French intellectuals in the 1960s. We went to the cinema in the afternoon to see films like ‘Reds’ and ‘The Year of Living Dangerously’ and we went to the Botanic Gardens in Oxford for romantic trysts, when we were not enjoying heavy petting in the narrow bed in his room at Lincoln College. A friend of mine has just given me a collection of the Doors complete output – listening to it is a real nostalgic trip!


Track 2. Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

This song is the No. 1 of the soundtrack of my university life (mid-190s) and reminds me of Ceri, my then boyfriend, to whom I clung, desperate to always have an escort at a party, for two years until I met the man who became my husband.


Track 3. Valley Girls – Frank Zappa

My boyfriend at uni really liked Frank Zappa. This song is a mickey-take of Californian girls from “the Valley” (like Sloane Rangers, I’m told!).

Note from Betty: Sadly the Frank Zappa version of this track isn’t on Spotify, so I’ve gone for a version by The Rock Heroes. Sorry!


Track 4. Club Tropicana – Wham!

I never liked Wham!, but in the 1980s, you couldn’t avoid them. This is, rather crassly, the song that was playing at the party (in my student house) where I met my husband. I later learnt that as he was smooching with me, he was making thumbs up signs behind my back to one of his other friends!


Track 5. Ivo – Cocteau Twins

This is THE seduction song of my life: Tom (my husband) played it to me whilst trying to persuade me to undress and go to bed with him. I didn’t take all my clothes off, but I did get into bed with him….. Whenever I hear this song, I am transported back to his room in the flat he shared with another bloke above the Realistic Fireplaces of Wimbledon showroom….


Track 6. Chopin – Impromptu in G Flat, Op 51

Five year’s ago I was infatuated with a professional musician, and involved in a very intense, spiritual, intellectual and ultimately unrequited affair with him. He played this piece as an encore at one of his concerts: I was convinced he’d played it especially for me. If I hear this piece on the radio now, I have to turn it off. Still very painful.


Track 7. Schubert – Impromptu Op 90 No. 4 in A flat

Another piece which reminds me very poignantly and painfully of that interlude in my life (see above). The piece opens with the most beautiful and ethereal fluttering descending semiquavers, and has a passionate trio, full of longing.


Track 8. Why? – Annie Lennox

My husband, Tom, was incredibly understanding and kind about my “wobble”, and we managed to repair our marriage without seeking specialist help or therapy. As a result, we’re happier, stronger, and closer. But if I hear this song, the guilt can still rear up and grab me by the throat. It always brings tears to my eyes. I think it’s important to be reminded of painful events in one’s love life, as well as the ecstatic ones.


Track 9. Ooh La La – Goldfrapp

I discovered Goldfrapp by accident – ‘Utopia’ was a track on a freebie CD stuck to the cover of a magazine. I loved it. And so does my husband. Sexy, sensuous music, Ooh La La always makes me want to don high heels, stockings and a corset, and then do a burlesque-type striptease while Tom lounges on our big bed or sofa.


Track 10. Fou de Fa Fa – Flight of the Conchords

One of the many things Tom and I share is a quirky sense of humour, and we both love the clever-yet-silly songs Flight of the Conchords produce. This is a joint favourite, one we sing in the car, at the top of our voices. Very liberating!

Sadly not on Spotify, but here’s a video instead:


Love Songs is a new strand for this blog, in which people share the ten tracks that sum up their love life. Would you like to share your list? Click here for more details.


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NEW! Love Songs – Betty & Herbert’s List

Love Songs is a new strand for this blog, in which people share the ten tracks that sum up their love life. Would you like to share your list? Click here for more details.


This is our list. You can click on the song titles to play them in Spotify.

Track 1: Underwater Love by Smoke City

Herbert and I met in a gay bar on Christmas Eve 1995, but I’d already spotted him before then because I used to go to the club night he ran. He hadn’t noticed me at all, but we’ll gloss over that. When we finally got together, he was playing this on heavy rotation, and it’s now tangled up with everything I remember about being 18 and in love: drowsy, sexy and compulsive.


Track 2: Sunshine of Your Love by Ella Fitzgerald

We’ve never been very good at romantic records (see Track 3) but this got played a lot in our early days together. When I left for university, Herbert put this on a mix tape for me. I love the way Ella finds the smoky, expansive joy in this track.


Track 3: Too Much, Too Young (Live) by The Specials

We got married in secret, inviting just a couple of close friends and my cousin. We’d forgotten to really plan what to do with ourselves after the ceremony, so we switched on the record player when we got home and danced in our kitchen. This is the first record we reached for – with a heavy sense of irony, I should add. Has to be the live version.


Track 4: Sunday Shining by Finley Quaye

Our first holiday together. Cheap Spanish rosado, watching the stars from the roof terrace, adopting a cat for the week and this played over and over again.


Track 5: Chance for Romance by Hector Rivera

I hate dancing unless I’m really drunk, when I suddenly think it’s a good idea. However, when one is the wife of a hobbyist DJ, one is occasionally required to be the first one on the floor to start the dancing. Herbert used to play this track to signal that it was time to do my duty. It makes me want to dance the tango.


Track 6: I Was Made to Love Her by Stevie Wonder

H bought me a 45 of this for Valentine’s Day a few years ago. Nuff said.


Track 7: Fell In Love with a Girl by The White Stripes

For years, I felt engulfed in H’s musical taste because, quite honestly, he had a far better record collection than I did. I only came across most of the tracks on this list because of him. But this one’s mine. And I like to think that I have influenced in his taste in a small way. I think he’s slowly learned to appreciate shouty vocals and ragged guitar.


Track 8: The Wichita Lineman by Sammy Davis Jr

I am not immune to the charms of the Glen Campbell original, but this is the one we know better. In either version, it’s a forgotten classic – full of unfulfilled yearning. When we renewed our vows on our 10th wedding anniversary, we sang this instead of a hymn.


Track 9: Jaan Pehechaan Ho by Mohammed Rafi

Bonkers surf Bollywood rock’n’roll is a genre that could just about sum us up. We are possibly the only two people in the Western world that know all the words to this. We have no idea what they mean, but that doesn’t deter us.


Track 10: Love Loves to Love Love by Lulu

Herbert loves this song. And sometimes I put it on in the car just to sing along. Don’t tell him I like it too. I prefer to remain lofty on such matters.


You can play the whole list in Spotify here.

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