First up is a Nils Lofgren piece from the 1991 album, Silver Lining. Featuring Bruce Springsteen on backing vocals, Nils presents the song, "Valentine." The track starts with soft, atmospheric keyboards that lead up to Nils' snarling lead guitar. That's where the song''s true power is, in Lofgren's talent for channeling emotion through his distinct guitar tone.
Lyrically the song is a bit on the nose; Lofgren isn't much of a poet, but there's genuine sentiment in his words that are magnified by the way he plays guitar. Springsteen's vocals during the chorus are a welcome addition considering how talented a backing vocalist The Boss is when he takes up that role. When Nils goes into his solos though, the supremely serene sound is something to behold.
The other track I have for you is from a movie called Not Fade Away directed by David Chase. The soundtrack had a great deal of input from Steven Van Zandt of The E-Street Band who also wrote this song that Chase ended up using. The movie involves a fictional band called The Twylight Zones, with "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre" being their signature song.
The track has Van Zandt's style all over it, complete with jangling guitars, straightforward, powerful lyrics, and Gary Tallant and Max Weinburg from the E-Street Band on bass and drums respectively. The band's vocalist sounds a bit like Bob Dylan but with a harder edge and not as coarse or gruff. The lyric takes glimpses at a relationship over the course of several holidays, seeing if it will last until Valentine's Day. It's a wonderfully written song and a nice little tribute to relationships.
So there you have it; one soft and tender rocker and another brisk, harder one; good for listening on Valentine's Day, or after the day has come and gone for the year. The fact that they share a Springsteen connection is just a coincidence. ...Or is it.......?