five undeniable classics about the unrelenting anguish of unrequited love

five undeniable classics about the unrelenting anguish of unrequited love

Whether you’re currently enjoying a summer of love, or enduring the winter of your discontent, who among us hasn’t felt the sting of unrequited affection before?

Some, more than others 😉

Almost from the start......Lil' Bam Bam had grand plans...she usually had other ideas.

Almost from the start......Lil' Bam Bam had grand plans...she usually had other ideas.

Sometimes unrequited love can feel like a musical instrument you never master.

Many artists have made a multiplicity of masterpieces, based upon objects of affection whose hearts they never manage to capture.

The theme of this TGIF edition of The Five Spot is Unrequited Love.

As the 50th anniversary of the so-called Summer of Love concludes, we'd like to salute the legendary comic strip/cartoon we always loved, created by the late, great Charles M. Schulz, which had an incredible fifty-year run, from 1950, all the way to the year 2000.

Peanuts, like pretzels, can make you thirsty.

In each of these classic cuts, you can almost taste and hear the salt-soaked tears...

Passing Me By-The Pharcyde

In A Nutshell: One of the greatest odes to unacknowledged admiration ever laid to wax, undoubtedly #1 on the hip-hop end. We won’t go all old-man back in my day on you, because we still absolutely love a lot of the newer rap artists coming up today. However, we can say cuts like this one, amazingly now a quarter of a century ago, do make us long for the heyday of “rap groups” which are virtually an endangered species in the current climate. And no rap group did self-deprecation better than L.A.'s The Pharcyde.

Key Sweetly Soul-Crushing Couplets:
Wait, no, I did not really pursue my little princess with persistence
And I was so low-key that she was unaware of my existence
From a distance I desired, secretly admired her
Wired her a letter to get her, and it went
”My dear, my dear, my dear, you do not know me but I know you very well
Now let me tell you about the feelings I have for you”
When I try, or make some sort of attempt, I simp
Damn I wish I wasn't such a wimp

Peanuts Pining Equivalency: Pig Pen for Violet

Alternative Tracks: The “Fly As Pie Remix”. Another trademark of the early 90’s rap-group era were remixes that were as strong as the original hit, if not stronger. This also resulted in the added bonus of having a whole ‘nother version of a great song for you to circle back to once the original was overplayed. See A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario (Remix)” or Public Enemy’s Pete Rock Remix of “Shut ‘Em Down” for further examples.

The Chi-Lites-Go Away Dream

In A Nutshell: This isn’t the first song most think about when it comes to unrequited love songs by The Chi-Lites, if they think about such subjects at all. It wasn't even a single. But it's the dreamiest ditty in this Chicago R&B/Soul vocal quartet’s catalog.

Key Sweetly Soul-Crushing Couplets:
Go away, dream, 'cause I know you ain't real
You let me see her, but you won't let me feel...

I run to kiss her, and the broken heart she sees
I wake up, hugging my pillow, hating reality

Peanuts Pining Equivalent: Peppermint Patty For Charlie Brown

Alternative Tracks:
It could be the song we alluded to above in the nutshell section, “Have You Seen Her”, but we’ve heard that one countless times. Plus, due to when we grew up, it reminds us of the MC Hammer cover version, with its now-awkward Bill Cosby shout-out, so we’ll leave that alone. Instead we'll pick the hit reggae cover of “Go Away Dream”, recorded by Derrick Harriott, which dropped the following year after the Chi-Lites original, in 1974.

You’re a Song (That I Can’t Sing)-Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

In A Nutshell: Frankie Valli had Motown Years? Who Knew?!? Not us. They must have skipped that scene in the stage production of Jersey Boys. And even though Clint Eastwood made a longer screen version we haven’t seen, we're guessing he did too.

Shout-out to Aziz Ansari’s fantastic second season of his NetFlix show Master of None, current leader in the clubhouse in the comedy category of our annual Best & Worst Pop-Culture Clash wrap-up, for bringing it to our attention a few months back. We’ve been playing it ever since. Also, Bad Company is now a strong candidate for an encore edition of Five Rarely Mentioned Rock Rip-Offs, for the guitar lick it nicked here and put in the verse intros of ‘Feel Like Makin Love’. Paul Rodgers is lucky Valli & Company didn't send him a message for that transgression.

Key Sweetly Soul-Crushing Couplets:
You only givin’ me a flower,
I wish I had the whole bouquet/
If I should ask you for an hour,
is there a chance that you would stay,
and maybe spend the day?

Peanuts Pining Equivalent: Lucy for Schroeder

Alternative Tracks:
Tune into Master of None to see how it’s tastefully deployed in the context of Aziz’s love for an Italian engaged woman. If you don’t feel like doing all that, just watch this classic Goodfellas scene of Karen Hill citing Valli while snapping on Henry in the street.

Brandy-Sittin’ Up In My Room

In A Nutshell: People have recently been crediting, or more accurately, blaming the Kardashian ascent on OJ Simpson. WRONG! WRONG! That ignominious distinction belongs to Brandy Norwood. This through no major fault of her own, but due to the little brother (Ray J) she sponsored into pseudo-stardom making a sex tape with Kim. It probably says something about our society that the past decade since then has seen ‘Brandy’s Brother’ get multiple dating reality shows, the Kim Kardashian Klan build a billion-dollar empire without any discernible talent, all while Brandy-a superstar for real reasons like singing and acting in the mid-nineties into the early 2000's-has ended up tossed in the pop-culture bargain-bin much like our girl Debbie Gibson. For shame. This video also makes us nostalgic for the days when Donald was downstairs, rather than…everywhere. Apologies Big Sis, no good deed goes unpunished.

Key Sweetly Soul-Crushing Couplets:
How can one be down?
Tell me where to start
Cause every time you smile
I feel tremors in my heart

Peanuts Pining Equivalent: Sally for Linus

Alternative Tracks: Our favorite Brandy joint, her 1994 debut single “I Wanna Be Down”, released a year earlier, was like the precursor to “Sittin’ Up in My Room” which arrived on the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack. It's the song that she’s singing while psyching herself up to make the pitch to a crush, before she lost the nerve to make a move. It’s also anchored by an absolutely timeless groove.

Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)-The Temptations

In a Nutshell: The Grand Champion of All Unrequited Love Songcraft. This song features not one, not two, but three classic renditions by Hall of Fame/short-list-for-GOAT level acts. We went with The Temptations up top here mostly because they, along with the mighty Motown machine, got to it first. Respect due to the architects.

Key Sweetly Soul-Crushing Couplets:
Every night on my knees I pray, dear Lord, hear my plea
Don't ever let another take her love from me or I would surely die
Her love is heavenly, when her arms enfold me
I hear a tender rhapsody, but in reality she doesn't even know me

Peanuts Pining Equivalency: Charlie Brown for the Little Red-Haired Girl

Alternative Tracks: Released a decade after the classic original, The Rolling Stones cut easily their best rendition of a Motown song in their career here, as an album cut on 1978’s Some Girls. Sure, they had a bigger hit with “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” a few years earlier, but this is far superior. Rather than merely trace the Temps’ template, they lovingly recast this as a guitar-weaving harmony between Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, while Charlie directs traffic on the drums. Mick Jagger switches the lyrics up a bit to suit his Lothario libido as well. The results end up sounding like a great Rolling Stones song, rather than a pale imitation.

The Prince version is taken from perhaps his most lauded bootleg ever, a legendary set from an after-show while on the Lovesexy tour: Small Club, recorded at The Hague, Netherlands 8/19/88. Vocally, it’s somewhat muted early. Once you first hear that impeccable guitar tone at 2:34, it's on. By the time he and Sheila E (on drums) really start locking in with each other, this thing goes into some kind of crazy interstellar orbit that has the ability to make our eyes wudder every time we hear it. He gives the audience a "thank you" at the end, but allow me to instead, once again, say “Thank You, Prince”.

Lastly, a thank you to all of those out there in #WudderWorld who made this July's #HappyWudderversary our most-clicked month of 2017.

That's the type of reciprocated love that we truly appreciate.

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