With an impressive list of Grammy-award winning creations, selling more than 25 million albums, for many, Luther Vandross embodies the perfect R&B crooner. The soothing, rather recognizable voice of Vandross has earned him the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance four times, as well as the Grammy for Song of the Year for his memorable and touching song, “Dance With My Father,” which was co-written with adult contemporary singer, Richard Marx.
During his lifetime, Vandross’ body of work includes a little more than 20 different albums, presenting an array of R&B, dance, pop and soul tracks. He was a great singer-songwriter, as well as record producer, who could play the piano and violin. In chronological order, I have listed the top ten Luther Vandross songs that I play over and over again when I feel like “getting in the mood” or reminiscing on good times.
#1 Never Too Much (1981)
How could you not shake your head or the rest of your body when you hear this song? Vandross made his first solo record with this title track. The song reached the #1 position on the R&B charts. A music video accompanied the song, showcasing Vandross while he sung and worked in the recording studio. Since the release of the song, it has been sampled by various artists, as well as appears in the 2002 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City video game.
“I can’t fool myself, I don’t want nobody else to ever love me
You are my shinin’ star, my guiding light, my love fantasy
There’s not a minute, hour, day or night that I don’t love you
You’re at the top of my list ’cause I’m always thinkin’ of you
I still remember in the days when I scared to touch you
How I spent my day dreamin’ plannin’ how to say I love you
You must have known that I had feelings deep enough to swim in
That’s when you opened up your heart and you told me to come in
Oh, my love
A thousand kisses from you is never too much
I just don’t wanna stop
Oh, my love
A million days in your arms is never too much
I just don’t wanna stop”
#2 A House Is Not A Home (1981)
If you watch the old Showtime at the Apollo shows, you are sure to see a handful of participants attempting this song. This track comes from the “Never Too Much” album, which eventually earned double platinum status.
“A chair is still a chair, even when there’s no one sittin’ there
But a chair is not a house and a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight”
#3 Superstar (1984)
Yes, it is longÃ¢Â?Â¦9 minutes and 18 seconds to be exact and if you don’t mind fairly lengthy stretches of piano, the words will truly inspire you. The vocals are beautiful and depending on what mood you’re in, his singing of this particular song almost beings a tear to your eye.
“Don’t you remember you told me you loved me, baby
You said you’d be comin’ back this way again, baby
Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh, baby
I love you
Yeah…I really do
And oh, so far away
I fell in love with you
Before the second show
And your guitar
And you sound so sweet and clear
But you’re not really here
It’s just the radio”
#4 Give Me the Reason (1986)
This upbeat song was featured in the 1986 movie, “Ruthless People,” which starred Danny Devito and Bette Midler. The accompanying guitar and drum is quite reflective of the 80s.
“Give me the reason to want you back
Why should I love you again
Do you know, tell me how
How to forgive and forget”
#5 Amazing Love (1987)
The tickling of the ivories coupled with his hypnotic voice, this song was destined to become a wedding or anniversary classic.
“And it’s so amazing, amazing
I could stay forever, forever
Here in love and no, leave you never
‘Cause we’ve got amazing love
Truly it’s so amazing, amazing
Love brought us together, together
I will leave you never and never
I guess we’ve got amazing love”
At the end of the song:
“I’d follow you to the moon and the sky above”
#6 Here and Now (1989)
Many a wedding DJ has this song tucked into their repertoire. This song can be found in The Best of Luther VandrossÃ¢Â?Â¦The Best of Love (an appropriate title). This was the first single that landed on the Billboard Top Ten pop chart. In 1991, he also won a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. This also marked a growing following in the smooth jazz crowd. To me, the track sounds like wedding vows in lyric formÃ¢Â?Â¦.
“Here and now
I promise to love faithfully (Faithfully)
You’re all I need
Here and now
I vow to be one with thee (You and me), hey
Your love is all (I need) I need”
#7 Your Secret Love (1996)
Although the song was released in 1996, ten years later, it could still grab the attention of mainstream R&B listeners. Catchy lyrics and accompanying music tells the story of those who cannot share their relationship with the public for whatever reasons (which is rather common today). Vandross sings of how it is tearing him up inside and how he wishes he could share his romance with others.
“Your secret love
Why can’t we tell somebody
‘Cause secret loves
Never last as long
Your secret love
Will never be your true love
I can’t be no secret baby
It’s breakin’ my heart
(You’re breaking my heart)”
#8 Take You Out (2001)
The track dealt with an individual abandoning fear of rejection to ask a woman out for the first time. I remember the video that was made for this song, including Vandross and Garcelle Beauvais, who also appeared as the love interest in R. Kelly’s “Down Low” video.
“Excuse me miss
But what’s your name?
Where are you from and can I come?
And possibly can I take you out tonight?”
#9 I’d Rather (2002)
Vandross knew how to convey the thoughts of those deeply in love. In this song, he explores how lovers wish to be with one another through all of the good and bad that comes with a relationship.
“I’d rather have bad times with you, than good times with someone else
I’d rather be beside you in a storm, than safe and warm by myself
I’d rather have hard times together, than to have it easy apart
I’d rather have the one who holds my heart”
#10 Dance with My Father (2003)
This title track from his 2003 album was dedicated to the memory of his father, which went on to win a Grammy in 2004 for Song of the Year. The album would also mark the last time Vandross would ever receive an award from the Grammies, due to his passing away the following year. This was the first time Vandross reached the #1 position on the Billboard charts in the album category.
The video for the song showcased celebrities with their fathers and children, including Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder and Beyonce. Various home videos and photos were pieced together, creating a powerful tribute to fathers. I personally don’t like to listen to this song that much because it is very sad, but nonetheless it is very moving.
“Back when I was a child, before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high and dance with my mother and me and then
Spin me around ’til I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved
If I could get another chance, another walk, another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
How I’d love, love, love
To dance with my father again”