What are the elements that make an evening magical? The setting, the people, the vibe. Music is a powerful tool that affects the energy and tone of any scenario. I pulled together a list of some of the greatest romantic songs ever created to set the mood for all you romantics. Whether you have a partner or lover to enjoy this playlist with or not, I am sure you will enjoy these classic, timeless songs.
And if you want to hear the songs first, including some fun and insightful discussion about the songs, we've included the links to the I've Heard That Song Before episodes for each title, our podcast show on the best classic jazz songs from the Great American Songbook.
1. "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered" performed by Ella Fitzgerald (1956)
This song, also referred to as “Bewitched,” was written by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart. The song was performed by Vivienne Segal in the original 1940 Broadway show, Pal Joey. In 1998, a popular television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, named their sixteenth episode “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.”
2. "Angel Eyes" performed by Shirley Bassey (1961)
A 1946 song composed by Matt Dennis with lyrics by Earl Brent. It was featured in a 1953 film, Jennifer. Many artists have performed this song, including Shirley Bassey, a Welsh (ethnic group associated with Wales) singer. She is best known for recording theme songs in James Bond films, Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker.
3. "My Funny Valentine" performed by Chet Baker (1959)
This song comes from the musical, Babes in Arms. The song became very popular, appearing in over 1300 albums and performed by over 600 artists. Chet Baker’s version was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry because of its “cultural, artistic, and historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy.”
4. "The Nearness of You" performed by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong (1956)
If you are looking for a more modern version of this song, Norah Jones version is stunningly beautiful. The melody of this song was produced by Carmichael for an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was hired to produce a song for a movie to be called Romance in the Rough. He took the melody, added words, and the song was named. The song did not become a hit until it was performed by Glen Miller.
5. "What's New?" performed by Dinah Washington (1961) or Bing Crosby's version (1939)
This was an instrumental tune created in 1939 by Bob Haggart, originally titled “I’m Free.” A year later, the lyrics were added by Johnny Burke. The new titled was inspired by the first line of the song, a conversation between lovers.
6. "Georgia On My Mind" performed by Toots Thielemans (1979) (instrumental, harmonica)
This song was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in 1930. It is often associated with Ray Charles from Georgia. He recorded it on his 1960 album, "The Genius Hits the Road."
7. "I Remember You" performed by Doris Day (1956)
This song was originally released in 1941 by Victor Schertizinger and Johnny Mercer. In 1942, it appeared in the film, The Fleet’s In, which Schertizinger directed.
8. "September Song" performed by Nat King Cole (1962)
This song was composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. It was originally introduced in the 1938 Broadway production, Knickerbocker Holiday. The song was also used in the 1950s film, September Affair, and during the screen credits of British television series, May to December.
9. "Come Rain or Come Shine" performed by Ray Charles (1959)
This song was written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer for the musical, St. Louis Woman. Ray Charles recorded this song on his album, "The Genius of Ray Charles," which charted in 1960 and 1968.
10. "I've Got You Under My Skin" performed by Frank Sinatra (1966)
This song was written in 1936 by Cole Porter and performed by Virginia Bruce in the musical, Born to Dance. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best song of the year. Sinatra sang the song on his radio show in 1946. He recorded it for several of his albums years after, including the album, Sinatra’s Sinatra.
"I’ll Be Seeing You" performed by Billie Holiday (1944)
"Unforgettable" performed by Nat King Cole (1951)
"Bye, Bye, Blackbird" performed by Peggy Lee (1955)
"Lazy Afternoon" performed by Lucy Reed (1955)
"East of the Sun, West of the Moon" performed by Tony Bennett (1992)
I really hope you enjoy these romantic songs and that they set you up for creating a magical evening.