Flyby Investigates: Love Songs of Harvard
Since my freshman year, I have found my true love in a New York Times podcast called “Modern Love.” Hosted by Anna Martin, the series follows the stories of love-lost, parental bonds, and delicate first loves as they are written in the NYT’s column of the same name. Of the episodes I listened to, ranging from old family secrets to redefined definitions of companionship, I found myself pressing play again and again on an episode called “First Love Mixtape.” Readers wrote about lyrics that evoked youth, love, and partnership, all while jazzy classics and 80’s pop hits played gently in the background. As Valentine’s Day approaches on our campus, I wanted to explore how a first love mix-tape for crimson hearts would play out. Here is what I found:
“Everybody Loves Somebody” - Dean Martin
Alexandra P. Oikonomou ‘26, a Crimson editor, found that her first memory of Dean Martin traces back to her sixth year around the sun. As she sat in her grandmother’s living room going through photo albums, she landed on a picture of people she “barely recognized.”
When she asked her grandmother who they were, “she just covered her face in embarrassment, which is something she typically never does…She was like, oh, that's me and your grandfather on one of our first dates. It was taken by your great grandmother.”
Oikonomou’s grandfather went behind the counter and picked up an old record player.
“The song started playing and my grandma blushed even more, if that's even possible.”
As Oikonomou watched on, her more-than-50-year-old grandparents joked back and forth before beginning to slow dance in the living room.
“I just looked at them and I was hoping that one day I would be lucky enough to experience a love that withstands more than three decades of marriage,” Oikonomou said.
“Put Your Records On” - Corinne Bailey Rae
For Jack R. Trapanick ‘26, a Crimson News editor, love and music reminded him of his sister.
“The song reminds me of my childhood, of when we were very little and still shared a bedroom, and life was very simple,” Trapanick said.
Now that they’re adults, the song is more than a simple reminder of the past.
“We're twins, so we've always been very close… it’s a song that not only reminds me of my childhood but reminds me of love because it's something we both have the same association with.”
“Can I Call You Rose?” - Thee Sacred Souls
Nahla C. Owens ‘25 drew a connection between love and the summer.
“When I think about love, I think about feeling joyful and happy, like I would feel in the summer on a vacation or ‘looking at a flower in June,’” Owens said, quoting a lyric from the song.
Nahla’s love of the summer also comes from her personal experience.
“When I think of love, I think of the beach because I met my current boyfriend in Mallorca. We were studying abroad together and just so happened to stumble upon this terrace that overlooked the coast of Mallorca and the mountains, and it was really gorgeous… That view reminds me of how I think about love,” Owens said.
“Silly Love Songs” - Paul McCartney
When asked about love and music, Emily R. Willrich ‘25, a Crimson editor, immediately thought of the Beatles.
“[Silly Love Songs is] one that my mom liked when I was little, and I just always really enjoyed it… I also really enjoyed the Glee version of it that Blaine sang on the Valentine's Day episode.”
Willrich remembered listening to the song with her mom in the car, saying, “She was annoyed that I like the Glee version better than the Paul McCartney version, but it’s ok!”
“1000” - Vank
Daria T. Harabor ‘26’s song-association was a throwback to a song her father used to sing to her and her brother when they were younger.
“I kept it close and whenever I hear it, like, it fills my heart with love,” Harabor said.
There you have it, five stories of Harvard love captured by love songs, ranging from the 60’s to Romanian pop rock. As you trudge on with Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) day plans of your own this year, I hope you take a second to think about the music that reminds you of a love in your own life.