40. "I'll Be Around", the Spinners--So much about this song is just "around", from the strings and bongos that loiter around watching the traffic to the hero of the tale, who is taking defeat like a man while still keeping hope alive. I've always rooted for dude.
39. "With Or Without You", U2--This was back when Bono had a soul, and the good sense to rip off Michael Hutchence's "Need You Tonight" whisper. The Edge uses sustain to genius effect here.
38. "Have To Say I Love You In a Song", Jim Croce--Per Behind the Music (which taught me more than kindergarten ever did), Ingrid Croce was in bed after an argument with her husband when she awoken by the sound of him playing this song. Like the best of the late troubadours oeuvre, "Have To Say" is heartrending for being simple and sweet, with tasteful chords and plaintive sentiment. Who can't relate to being a blubbering ass?
37. "Dream a Little Dream", Mama Cass--A standard recorded by a woman who was anything but. Love is frequently most beautiful in reverie, and Cass gives the lyrics the sweet caress they deserve.
36. "Give Me Back My Man", the B-52s--A patented Cindy Wilson solo number, and arguably the best song on the B's woefully overlooked second album. Cindy sounds like a woman on the verge, with her big brothers guitar pushing her ever closer, whispering sour everythings into her ear. "I'll give you fish/I'll give you candy/I'll give you/Everything I have in my hand!" That's desperate, soul-stinging love.
35. "Supernova", Liz Phair--Liz gives her all in the alterna-hit that dominated my best friends tape deck in '94. Something 'bout the fuzzy-wuzzy riffage matched with iffy lyrics: "And your lips are sweet and slippery like a cherubs bare wet ass." But that's what happens when you're in love and searching for just the right way to express yourself; she compares her love also to an ethereal being, an automatic weapon, and of course outerspace phenomena, but nothing--as in, not a thing--surpasses: "And you fuck like a volcano/And you're everything to me." If I were a man, and on the receiving end of that line, I'd have papers drawn up and sign my dick over to the woman. Get it notarized.
34. "Right Back Where We Started From", Maxine Nightingale--All chorus. All stomp, clap and cheer. All belief. Gains crazed points for frequent use in Slap Shot, the best hockey movie of all time. Now there's a short list.
33. "More Than a Feeling", Boston--This one has it all. Acoustic guitars for the verse, electric for the chorus, a solo, soaring harmony vocals, and a masterful fade. You'd probably like to think that you have a Leonard Cohen song in your head to keep you company after a dire breakup, but you actually hear this. It's okay to admit it.
32. "Just the Two of Us", Bill Withers and Grover Washington Jr.--The best efforts of Mike Myers and Will Smith aside, this song can't be diluted of its pure emotion. One of the greatest, most arresting intros in music, and the unwavering croon of one Mr. Withers make for a damn near perfect song. I say "damn near" because those female voices chiming in on the chorus are lightweight and superfluous.
31. "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", the Monkees--The acoustic guitar with slight electric flourishes, the clap-happy rhythm, the beach-ready chorus, the sensible lyrics that address the inherent personal responsibilities of a healthy relationship--of course Neil Diamond wrote it. A pretty slice of pro-perspective pop.