NPR logo Embraceable You: Songs of Love

Embraceable You: Songs of Love

Sarah Vaughn (300)
Frank Driggs Collection / Getty Images

It's a fair bet that three-quarters of all songs have something to do with love, with maybe half of those coming out in its favor. Here are five lovesick tunes crafted by jazz legends, Broadway hitmakers, and new talents.

Embraceable You: Songs of Love

Cover for Sarah for Lovers

Embraceable You

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18920443/18880897" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sarah Vaughan

  • Song: Embraceable You
  • from Sarah for Lovers

This is one of the many great love songs written by George and Ira Gershwin. It was originally performed on Broadway by Ginger Rogers in 1930, but was quickly adopted by a generation of great jazz singers. Although this recording by Sarah Vaughan is our favorite, you might also want to check out Billie Holiday’s version from 1944, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2005.

Buy Featured Music

Song
Sarah for Lovers
Album
Sarah for Lovers
Artist
Sarah Vaughan
Label
Universal Japan
Released
2003

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Harry Connick Jr.
Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

You Go to My Head

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18920443/18880951" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Harry Connick, Jr.

  • Song: You Go to My Head
  • from Jubilation

What we have here is a very hard-to-find recording of “You Go to My Head.” It was released in 1989 on a limited-edition sampler from the Columbia label. This luscious version features the then-22-year-old Connick doing a great job of channeling Frank Sinatra (while still imprinting the song with his own personality), as well as beautiful saxophone accompaniment by none other than Branford Marsalis.

Cover for John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

You Are Too Beautiful

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18920443/18880930" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

  • Song: You Are Too Beautiful
  • from John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman [Bonus Tracks/SACD]
  • by John Coltrane with Johnny Hartman

It’s hard to pick just one love song from the John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman release. With Coltrane tapping into the romantic side of his monumental talent, combined with the warm voice of Johnny Hartman, this whole CD is a valentine. If a person had to give his or her sweetheart just one CD to commemorate a great love, this would be the one. Just listen to the Coltrane/Hartman treatment of Rodgers and Hart’s “You Are Too Beautiful,” and you’ll see what we mean.

Buy Featured Music

Song
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
Album
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
Artist
John Coltrane with Johnny Hartman
Label
Impulse
Released
2004

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Carmen McRae

When I Fall in Love

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18920443/18880917" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Carmen McRae

  • Song: When I Fall in Love
  • from Carmen McRae Sings Great American Songwriters

Carmen McRae never simply sang a song. She got inside the song and lived in it, giving every word, every phrase, and every note the attention it deserved. Nowhere is this quality more apparent than in her version of Edward Heyman and Victor Young’s enduring love song.

Buy Featured Music

Song
Carmen McRae Sings Great American Songwriters
Album
Carmen McRae Sings Great American Songwriters
Artist
Carmen McRae
Label
IMS
Released
1955

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Cullum

I'm Glad There Is You

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18920443/18880898" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jamie Cullum

  • Song: I'm Glad There Is You
  • from Catching Tales [Deluxe Edition Bonus DVD]

When singer/pianist Jamie Cullum burst onto the jazz scene, opinions about him varied. Some jazz lovers took a wait-and-see attitude to this brash young Brit, who wore sneakers onstage and brought more than a little rock 'n' roll attitude to his performances. If you count yourself among this group, listen to Cullum’s heart-wrenching version of I’m Glad There Is You. We think you’ll conclude that the wait is over. This guy is the real deal.

Buy Featured Music

Song
Catching Tales
Album
Catching Tales
Artist
Jamie Cullum
Label
Umvd Import
Released
2005

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.