With Luther Vandross, the first and last word was almost always “Love”

(April 21, 2020).  Yesterday, fans around the world commemorated what would have been Luther Vandross’ 70th birthday had the late soul icon lived.  He died on July 1, 2005 at the young age of 54.

Luther Vandross (1951-2005)

As many of us already knew, few could sing about love the way Luther could.  He could turn simple love songs into sonic bouquets.  He could reinvent the plainest of pop gems and turn them into his signature masterpieces, creating landscapes that were both structurally complex and chill-inducing as only his tenor/baritone vocal delivery could accomplish.

What he did to the Carpenters’ “Superstar” or to Dionne Warwick’s “A House Is Not A Home” was downright unforgiving.  Nothing this side of Whitney Houston’s redo of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” has even come close on the scale of reinvention to what Luther did to those and many other classics.

Yes, it goes without saying Luther knew a thing or two about how to sing a song with feeling, and singing about love likely came as naturally to him as walking or talking.

In fact, in researching his catalogue, I discovered that – with Luther – it was almost always about love…so much so that the first and/or last word was often just that: “love.”  

Beginning with “The Glow of Love” by Change – the group for which he provided lead vocals on two of their début album’s tracks – Luther likely had more songs than anyone else whose titles either began or ended with the word “love.”

I found 35 of ‘em.  Check out this amazing list below.

First, a baker’s two-dozen of songs whose titles ended with everyone’s favorite four-letter word: 

  1. “The Glow Of Love” – Change (1980)
  2. “Forever, For Always, For Love” (1982)
  3. “Better Love” (1982)
  4. “I Wanted Your Love” (1983)
  5. “For the Sweetness of Your Love” (1983)
  6. “The Night I Fell In Love” (1985)
  7. “Wait For Love” (1985)
  8. “Stop to Love” (1986)
  9. “I Gave It Up (When I Fell in Love)” (1986)
  10. “There’s Nothing Better Than Love” (1986, with Gregory Hines)
  11. “Because It’s Really Love” (1986)
  12. “Any Love” (1988)
  13. “For You to Love” (1988)
  14. “Power of Love” (1991)
  15. “Sometimes It’s Only Love” (1991)
  16. “Emotional Love” (1991)
  17. “Love Is On the Way (Real Love)” (1993)
  18. “How Deep Is Your Love” (1993)
  19. “Endless Love” (1994, with Mariah Carey)
  20. “What the World Needs Now Is Love” (1994)
  21. “Your Secret Love” (1996)
  22. “Crazy Love” (1996)
  23. “Nobody to Love” (1996)
  24. “Dream Lover” (1998)
  25. “Once Were Lovers” (2003)

In other words, it almost always ended with “love” or some variation of it when it came to Luther Vandross.  Other times it even began with “love.”

These were his titles that began with the word no one should ever take for granted:

  1. “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” (1988)
  2. “Love Power” (1991)
  3. “Love Me Again” (1993)
  4. “Love Is On the Way (Real Love)” (1993)
  5. “Love Don’t Love Nobody” (1993)
  6. “Love the One You’re With” (1994)
  7. “Love Don’t Love You Anymore” (1996)
  8. “Love Forgot” (2001)
  9. “Lovely Day” (2003, w/ Busta Rhymes)
  10. “Lovely Day (Part II) (2003, w/ Busta Rhymes and Next)

Here is a special Spotify playlist containing the songs listed above.

Luther is all about “love” in this special Spotify playlist.

And then there are all those Luther studio album titles and compilations bearing the word “love,” clearly a reflection of the late legend’s mastery of the topic:

Album cover for ‘Forever, For Always, For Love’
  1. Forever, For Always For Love (1982)
  2. The Night I Fell In Love (1985)
  3. Any Love (1988)
  4. The Best of Luther…The Best of Love (1989)
  5. Power of Love (1991)
  6. Your Secret Love (1996)
  7. One Night With You: The Best of Love (Vol. 2) (1997)
  8. Love Is on the Way (1998)
  9. Smooth Love (2000)
  10. Stop to Love (2002)
  11. The Very Best of Love (2002)
  12. Love, Luther (2007)
  13. Lovesongs (2009)

Note: Numbers 4, and 8-13 are all compilations.  Nos. 12 and 13 were released posthumously.

So what does this all mean? Only that fans need no further evidence to show who the real “king of love” was when it came to R&B crooners.  Clearly, Luther had a much larger catalogue than the mere dozens of titles represented in this article. The remainder show that a song doesn’t have to have “love” in its title (or even its lyrics) to prove one’s mastery of the subject.

Still, no one could be so bold as to stamp so large a portion of his catalogue with “love” without the confidence he must have had in his knowledge on the topic.

And even if you grant that he might not have been so experienced in it himself, he knew that his many millions of fans would have preferred no one else soundtracking our own love stories more so than Luther.

Continue resting well in peace, Luther Vandross!

DJRob

DJRob is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.

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