Song of the Day, July 5: Love Song by Lesley Duncan
July 5, 2016 Leave a comment
Today we celebrate a famous song by a largely unknown musician. Lesley Duncan intended to be a songwriter, but the label she offered her demos to decided to make her a singles star. While that career struggled, she became well-known as a versatile backing vocalist, working with a wide variety of performers. By 1970, one of her regular session colleagues had begun a successful career in his own right. Elton John asked Duncan to pitch in on his third LP, Tumbleweed Connection. She provided more than vocals, offering John one of her original songs.
He was so impressed with Love Song that he recorded it for the album, with Duncan providing harmonies. While he has worked with many songwriting partners — most famously lyricist Bernie Taupin — Elton John almost never records songs written entirely by others. That makes this inclusion all the more remarkable. As a thank you, he sat in on the sessions for Duncan’s solo debut, the charming Sing Children Sing. This included John’s distinctive piano work on her own version of what would become her most famous song.
Love Song is deceptively simple, a quiet, moving ode to the power of love in all its forms. The centerpiece of Duncan’s album, it captures the fragmenting optimism of the late 60s, reflecting the effort it takes to help love heal the world. Duncan’s smoky vocal is perfect, and Elton and the band provide just the right accompaniment.
Love is the opening door
Love is what we came here for
No-one could offer you more
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen
In the decades since, over 100 artists — as diverse as David Bowie and Olivia Newton-John — have offered their versions of the song. Nobody matches the calm majesty of Elton’s first cover of it or the quiet assurance of its writer’s definitive rendition.