As a girl and a closet romantic, I think there could, in theory, be nothing more flattering than being serenaded with a song written specifically about you. To know that a person knows you well enough and adores you so much to compose a song in your honor must be a very overwhelming experience–for, you know, the girls who get songs written about them. It’s not a wild fantasy of mine or anything. (Side note: I went on a quest to find a song entitled “Ann” for a little pick me up. Found the Josh Ritter song “Anne”…apparently “conversations are slow” with myself in “dead parking lots.” Why am I “just wasting away?” He soooo gets me.)
The thing is, movies, TV, and pop culture have lied, and they are only just starting to fess up. Films used to be full of the whole “use music to win her heart” thing, giving the guy confidence with his grand gesture of affection. As a girl, I totally bought into it. But the gimmick is up. Now, there is no more cringe-worthy moment in a movie than when a guy turns around with a slick acoustic guitar in his arms, only to find his “muse” staring back at him, horrified about what’s about to ensue. I would point you to this and this for evidence. Singing a song about a person to that person now unfortunately just seems like an all-around awkward experience.
But what all that doesn’t change, thank goodness, is the music itself. Mary Ann, Lyla, Julia–these ladies have inspired some sweet tunes, whether or not the desperate admiration, the infatuating love was reciprocated in real life. Most of the songs below are of the I-love-you-you-beautiful-angelic-creature variety, but there are always the unrequited-love-you-don’t-know-I-exist’s, the someday-we’ll-be-together-you-just-don’t-know-it-yet-this-isn’t-creepy-though’s, and of course, the why-don’t-you-love-me-anymore’s. Every genre has its version of the serenade. No one does it better than The Beatles in many categories, but especially this one. Other rock legends like The Kinks, Oasis, and The Libertines have offered their iterations of the ode to [Insert Name Here], and so have jazz idols like Ray Charles, pop crooners like Dave Barnes, and folk geniuses Simon & Garfunkel, Fleet Foxes, and Bon Iver.
Here are some of the best odes to ladies, old and new…enjoy!
MP3: Ray Charles-Mary Ann
MP3: The Beatles-Julia
MP3: Fleet Foxes-Lorelai
MP3: Bon Iver-For Emma