10 songs of unrequited love for Taylor Swift's discarded fan mail
Photo by Steve Cohen
It's all too easy to make Taylor Swift play the part of the bitch. From her latest row with America's Sweethearts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, to the string of heartbreak she's left in her wake, the bottom line is this: when it comes to popular girls, she is officially the most popular girl in the world, epitomizing all that is popular girl in that for every one girl who idolizes her, there are 19 more scratching Xs into her eyes in the yearbook. And now? We hear that News 2 Nashville is reporting that HUNDREDS of fan letters addressed to Swift have been found in a dumpster, much of it unopened! Uh oh!
But we come neither to bury this story -- and is it a story at all? Really? To thousands of her fans, sure, a super newsworthy one -- nor to praise Taylor. Nor to rip her to shreds. We'd hate to end up in that special place in Hell Katie Couric taught her about. Instead, we come bearing songs of unrequited love, intended to soothe the aching hearts of so many obsessive fangirls, whose letters have gone unanswered.
10. Ray Charles - "You Don't Know Me" (1962)
Everyone from Elvis, Willie and Dylan to Meryl Streep have sung this Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold-penned love song, but it's Ray Charles' version from his #1 Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music that took it to the top of the charts, and remains one of Charles' signature tunes. Notable Lyric: You give your hand to me, and then you say, "Goodbye." I watched you walk away, beside the lucky guy. Oh, you'll never ever know the one who loved you so. Well, you don't know me.
9. Conway Twitty - "It's Only Make Believe" (1958)
This song about fantasy love comes courtesy of Conway Twitty's early career as a rockabilly star, before his transition into fluffy-haired country balladeer. It's said Twitty wrote this tune while sitting on a fire escape outside his Ontario hotel room, after rockabilly star Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins instructed him to come to the country, a supposed promised land for artists like him. Not so sure about Hawkins' judgement on that one, but it's to be noted that he did play a hand not only in the formation of The Band, having recruited several of its members to his backing band years before they ever bumped into Dylan, but also in recruiting future members of Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band. Notable Lyric: My one and only prayer is that some day you'll care. My hopes, my dreams come true. My one and only you. No one will ever know how much I love you so. My only prayer will be some day you'll care for me. But it's only make believe.
8. Everly Brothers - "All I Have to Do Is Dream" (1958)
This song always seemed fairly benign. Until it was featured in that creepy Rodney Dangerfield flick, Ladybugs. Game over! Notable Lyric: I need you so that I could die. I love you so, and that is why whenever I want you, all I have to do is drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream dream dream.
7. Hal Ketchum - "Past the Point of Rescue" (1991)
Ketchum's one of the unsung heroes of 90s pop country, and his 1991 album -- this is its title song - kicks all kinds of ass. Notable Lyric: Gotta let your love invite me, baby do you think it might be, no you don't. But I do. But I do, and I wonder if I'm past the point of rescue. Is no word from you at all the best that you can do. I never meant to push or shove you. Do you know how much I love you? No you don't, but I do.
6. Bonnie Raitt - "I Can't Make You Love Me" (1991)
According to Toby Cresell's book 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time and the Artists, Stories and Secrets Behind Them, the idea for this song came to co-writer Mike Reid while reading an article about a man arrested after drunkenly shooting at his girlfriend's car. When the judge asked him if he'd learned anything, he replied, "I learned, Your Honor, that you can't make a woman love you if she don't." Notable Lyric: Lay down with me, tell me no lies. Just hold me close, don't patronize - don't patronize me. 'Cause I can't make you love me, if you don't. You can't make your heart feel something it won't.
5. Tanya Tucker - "Jamestown Ferry" (1972)
As with so many of Tanya Tucker's old songs, the melody seems upbeat as anything, 'til you listen to the lyrics and feel that gut punch. Notable Lyric: He just caught the Jamestown ferry, it's not a hot day in January like he said it'd be if he ever left me.
4. Linda Ronstadt - "Long, Long Time" (1970)
Ronstadt was herself once one of the highest paid female musicians in the biz, made successful crossovers from country to pop and rock, and lived a highly publicized private life, with romantic connections to California Governor Jerry Brown and director George Lucas. A lot of people hated her too, Taylor. Notable Lyric: Caught in my fears, blinking back the tears. I can't say you hurt me when you never let me near. And I never drew one response from you, all the while you fell over girls you never knew. 'Cause I've done everything I know to try and make you mine. And I think it's gonna hurt me for a long, long time.
3. George Strait - "You Can't Make a Heart Love Somebody" (1994)
Strait's protagonist pops the question over dinner, and here's how she responds. Moral of the story: "You can lead a heart to water, but you can't make it fall." Ouch. Notable Lyric: She reached for his hand and said, "I want you to know, I've done everything that I know of to make the feeling grow. I've begged and I've pleaded with my heart, but there's no gettin' through. My heart's the only part of me that's not in love with you."
2. David Allan Coe - "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" (1975)
For those who never heard Taylor call their own. "Dear Waylon Jennings, er, Charley Pride, er, Merle Haggard, er, whoever you are. Thanks for writing me. But we are never, ever, ever getting back together. I'll leave you to the cumstains on your pillow, or Linda Lovelace, or whatever it is you've been up to these days. Love, TayTay." This Steve Goodman/John Prine- penned song is the perfect country and western song, but not for the reasons Coe states. It's the perfect country and western song because IT HAS IMPRESSIONS IN IT. See also: Jerry Reed's "The Bird." Notable Lyric: I'll hang around as long as you will let me. And I never minded standin' in the rain. But you don't have to call me Darlin', Darlin'. You never even called me by my name.
1. Dolly Parton - "I Will Always Love You" (1974)
:( Notable Lyric: If I should stay, well, I would only be in your way. And so I'll go, and yet I know that I'll think of you each step of my way. And I will always love you. I will always love you.
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