Happy Valentine’s Day from The Ed Sullivan Show! To set the mood this weekend we’ve curated a playlist of some of the best love songs that have been performed throughout the history of the show. We wish you all a safe and memorable weekend and hope you enjoy this Valentine’s Day gift from us to you.
Nat King Cole “Forgive My Heart”
Nat King Cole performed Forgive My Heart on October 23, 1955. Cole’s repertoire at the time was primarily love songs. He told a Swiss television reporter he was simply giving his fans what they wanted. Cole was one of Sullivan’s favorite artists and appeared 13 times on the show. After one of Cole’s performances, Ed Sullivan said “It’s always a great thrill to have him on our stage because I’ve never met a finer artist or a finer human being.”
Elvis Presley “Love Me Tender”
On September 9, 1956, Elvis Presley performed Love Me Tender on The Ed Sullivan Show shortly before the single’s release and about a month before the movie, Love Me Tender, was released (for which the reworded song had been written). After the appearance, RCA received more than a million advance orders, making it a gold record before it was even released. The studio, 20th Century Fox, originally wanted to call the movie The Reno Brothers, but instead re-titled it Love Me Tender to capitalize on the song’s popularity.
The Supremes “You Can’t Hurry Love”
On September 25, 1966, The Supremes performed their iconic record You Can’t Hurry Love on the show. The song is about a woman who wants a significant relationship and finds herself growing ever more impatient because it isn’t happening. She heeds her mom’s advice: “You can’t hurry love / You’ll just have to wait / Love don’t come easy / It’s a game of give and take.” This song is a lesson to those wanting to be in love – love comes and goes on its own time. You Can’t Hurry Love was The Supremes’ seventh #1 hit single on the Billboard Hot 100, claiming the top spot for two weeks in September 1966.
The Temptations “I’m Going To Make You Love Me”
On February 2, 1969, The Temptations performed a rare solo version of their joint record with Diana Ross and the Supremes, I’m Going To Make You Love Me. The song was never intended to be performed live, however, The Temptations went ahead with it making this one of the few live performances ever staged. The hit song reached #2 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and its R&B charts in January 1969.
The Turtles “Happy Together”
On May 14th, 1967, The Turtles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. That night, Ed introduced them by saying “And now for all the youngsters watching all over the country, here is a group of youngsters playing their hit Happy Together, here are The Turtles!” Ironically, the song is a fantasy about unrequited love. Everything the song talks about is how a man “imagines” things could be with his partner, not how they really are. Although 1967 proved to be The Turtles’ most prolific year on the music charts, the band continued to have many successful top hits.
The Jackson 5 “Who’s Loving You”
On December 14, 1969, The Jackson 5 debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show. The group performed Who’s Loving You for their second song where Michael really shined and showed off his amazing vocal range. The song is about an ex-lover, reminiscing how their relationship went sour and wondering who’s loving them now. Michael usually gave an intro about being really young but understanding about these things comparing it to how he met a girl in the sandbox and sharing cookies. The song was performed live at Michael Jackson’s public memorial service in July 2009.
Bee Gees “Words”
On March 17, 1968, the Bee Gees debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show. They performed their hits Words and To Love Somebody. Words is a love song about the inability to express words of love to a significant other. The Bee Gees are saying “look, words are all I have, they are everything to me.” In a 2013 interview, Bee Gees guitarist Vince Melouney explained how fast the group rose to fame. “Before we knew it, we were flying first class, doing The Ed Sullivan Show in New York, and staying in very expensive hotels. Coming from Australia only a few months earlier, which at that time, was at the end of the earth, we were like kids in a lolly shop.”
The Beach Boys “Wendy”
On September 27, 1964, The Beach Boys were the headliners on the season premiere of The Ed Sullivan Show. They performed their smash hits I Get Around and Wendy. Wendy was co-written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love and was released on their 1964 album All Summer Long. Sadly, this was one of Brian’s last performances with the group, and his first and only performance ever on Sullivan. Four years later on October 13, 1968, The Beach Boys returned to the show with new members, songs, and style.
The Four Tops “Reach Out I’ll Be There”
On October 16, 1966, The Four Tops made their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The group sang their #1 hit single I’ll Be There, which was directed toward a depressed woman on the verge of suicide, promising everlasting love, support and guidance through this troubled time. All the woman has to do is ask, and her prayers will be answered. This version by The Four Tops was recently used by Joe Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign.
The Mamas & The Papas “I Call Your Name”
On September 24th, 1967, The Mamas & The Papas performed for the third time on The Ed Sullivan Show. At the beginning of their set they gave Sullivan love beads that Ed wore when he watched them perform. I Call Your Name was written by John Lennon before the formation of The Beatles. Paul McCartney has always wondered what the song meant and who it was directed towards. With Lennon’s passing on December 8, 1980, there can only be speculation regarding the true meaning of this love song.
Thank you for checking out our Valentine’s Day playlist. We hope you found some hidden gems to enjoy. Much like these songs, we hope they bring you together with your loved ones just as much as they have been bringing people together for generations. We wish you all the best and hope you have a great weekend.
You can check out the full playlist here.