Lazy Friday Playlist: The Arc of Eros


Most of these songs are live recordings, which, beyond providing great performances, convey the reality that sex is social, love is social – searched out, scratched out, played out, won and lost by people together in historical time, and shaped by that time.

This isn’t a good time for eros, crowded out as it is in the culture right now by shame, punishment and perennial exploitation to sell some shit. So here are songs to bring us back to first things, to the human wish for love, need for sex, and the moving, messy, sometimes embarrassing arc along which we find them, lose them and, if we’re lucky, find them again.

The last track here, by my Buffalo brother Rick James and Teena Marie goes only (!) 24 minutes, so the rest’s a bonus.

Rick James: The author’s Buffalo brother.

A Case of You / Joni Mitchell (1983, live)

Love’s Holiday / Earth Wind and Fire (1977)

For My Lover / Tracy Chapman (2003, live)

Natural Woman / Aretha Franklin and friends (live)

I’d Rather Go Blind / Miss Etta James (possibly 2009, live)

Tell It Like It Is / Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Greg Allman and Herbie Hancock (1989, live)

Why / Annie Lennox (2000, live)

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart / Al Green (1972, live)

A Song for You / Donnie Hathaway (1972, live)

Fire and Desire / Rick James and Teena Marie (1981, live, with bonus tracks)

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