What are you going to do for Valentine's Day? Take your honey out for dinner? Mail her a card if she's far away? Enjoy a day or a night together if she's near? Or – if you've only seen her from afar and want to open the door to closing that distance – send her (or better yet, bring her) some flowers or a box of chocolates?
The dinner will be finished; the card may be treasured, and even tied together in a ribbon with others as a memory, but eventually it'll fade; flowers wilt; and chocolates are fattening (and, GAKK! With light, dark, and white chocolate to choose from, what happens if you pick the wrong one?).
Another thing you might try is to forget the conventional way of doing it entirely, and express your feelings through something that will not only last, but that may do so more clearly and even more emotionally than you might without its help.
Obviously, the "something" I'm talking about is music. Think of all the great love songs ever written. Think of what they say and how they say it. Now truthfully, isn't at least one of those better, more articulate, and more deeply revealing of what you want to say than what you're likely to pick up at the local drugstore in a Hallmark card? Or even in the note you might hastily pen to go along with that box of candies or bouquet of roses?
Perhaps more revealing of our deepest emotions than any other art form, music is the way to say "I love you" in the language we're most likely to understand and be moved by. Or to stir the emotions of our loved one to respond in kind.
Regardless of the kind of music your loved one may prefer, there's more than plenty of it to choose from in voicing your Valentine's Day sentiments. Even a (corny or classic, depending on your point of view), song like – "I love You Truly" has bunches of recordings available from lots of artists in many styles. (With recordings by Pat Boone and others, the one you really need to hear to believe is by Peter Stampfel.
And other "popular music" love songs abound, describing just about every aspect of human love, from "I want to know what love is" (by Foreigner, 1999 ), to love's inception, ("Can't Help Falling in Love", Elvis Presley 1961), to deepest devotion ("Deep Devotion" by Mark Frith, 2020) ,to the misery of loss ("I've Got Tears in My Ears from Lying on My Back in My Bed While I Cry Over You" by Homer and Jethro, 1952).
Or, for what, to me, is the greatest musical insight ever into the human condition, you must hear Leonard Cohen's 2009 Live in London album, featuring such rich and compelling works as "I'm Your Man" and "Dance me to the End of Love".
There's beauty, love, and pleasure in the music of other countries, too. For sheer emotion and musical melodrama, try Mexican or Russian music. Even if neither you nor your special person understand the words, you'll understand that the singers are crying bitter tears and tearing their hearts out over love unrequited, fading, or long gone, and loving every minute of it.
It's the same in classical music, too. Consider King Arthur pledging his love to Guinevere ("I'll be constant, you be kind") in Henry Purcell's 1691 opera, King Arthur. Or any of the great love arias in more modern opera. Whether you understand the language or not, the meaning is obvious, universal, and fully communicated.
And, with classical music, words may not even be necessary. Liebestraum("Love's Dream") by Franz Liszt is only one of a great many love-themed or romantic classical pieces that can be used to convey your own feelings and for a truly fabulous, in every sense of the word, tale of love and marriage from an other than ordinary perspective, Karl Orff's 1943 opera Die Kluge (The story of the King and the Wise Woman) is wonderfully entertaining, philosophically enlightening, and sonically spectacular. My favorite performance is the Schwarzkopf / Sawallisch version of 1956.
For more conventional tales of love, what could be better than Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? Both Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev have glorious musical retellings of it. Many fine performances are available of both of these, including, if you can find it, a both musically and sonically marvelous performance of the Prokofiev on Sheffield Labs by Erich Leinsdorf. Whatever the genre and whatever the sentiment you want to convey, music is a fine gift for Valentine's Day and, even better than just giving the music, why not give the means to play it?
If your loved one doesn't yet have a high-performance music system, why not give one? That way, not just a single tune or album would remind your Valentine of you, but so would every song or every hour of music played. If your special person doesn't have a system, check it out; there are some amazing values in the new equipment being offered today. Something just right might be right in your price range.
If he or she already has a system, try a new component or even something as simple as (if they have a streamer) a subscription to a streaming service. And if they don't have a streamer, there's your answer, right there! Or, especially for some of the classics I've just mentioned, if they don't have a record player (turntable, arm, and cartridge) that might be the thing to do. Vinyl is making a huge comeback, and even young people are falling in love with it. If you give one, who knows what – or who – they might fall in love with, too.
Valentine's Day, love songs, and great music in great sound all go together. If you give it as a gift, think of what your loved one might be thinking the next time they sit down, dim the lights, and...