. . . And my daddy said, ‘Stay away from Juliet.’”
I’m going to go out on a limb, and guess that most of you immediately recognized that quote from Taylor Swift’s hit song “Love Story,” about a girl who falls for someone her father doesn’t approve of. The song is infinitely catchy (seriously, I can’t even begin to tell you how frequently it gets stuck in my head), and the Romeo and Juliet theme of forbidden love is universal. So universal, in fact, that for decades (and centuries!) songwriters have been turning to Romeo and Juliet as inspiration. Here are five songs throughout the ages all about this famous pair:
1. Romeo and Juliet by Tchaikovsky
In the 1870s, Tchaikovsky (you know, the guy who wrote the ballet The Nutcracker) wrote an overture titled “Romeo and Juliet.” I don’t know if I’ve ever heard it or not — I didn’t know about the piece until I found it doing a Google search while writing this entry. But the love theme from it was in the TV shows The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Spongebob Squarepants and the video game The Sims, so chances are that I’ve heard it and just never knew!
2. “Love Story” by Taylor Swift
“You were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles / And my daddy said, ‘Stay away from Juliet.’”
3. “Fever” by Peggy Lee
“Romeo loved Juliet / Juliet, she felt the same / When he put his arms around her / He said, ‘Julie, baby, you’re my flame.’”
Going back to when your grandparents were your age (if they were your age in 1958), Peggy Lee’s song “Fever” was climbing up the US pop chart. This jazzy song uses Romeo + Juliet and Captain Smith + Pocahontas to characterize the great loves throughout history.
4. “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits
“A love-struck Romeo sings the streets a serenade / Laying everybody low with a love song that he made”
Jumping up to when your parents were young (I know it’s hard to imagine, but they weren’t always the old, boring people you know) there was a different hit Romeo and Juliet song, this one by Dire Straits. Dire Straits was one of the first bands to embrace music videos when they started to get popular in 1985. But this love song about a street musician from 1980 predates music videos.
5. “Check Yes Juliet” by We The Kings
“Check yes Juliet / Are you with me? / Rain is falling down on the sidewalk / I won’t go until you come outside”
Sorry, Taylor, this is my favorite current-day song about Romeo and Juliet. We The Kings are a power pop band from Florida, and “Check Yes Juliet” is bouncy, fun song in which Romeo sings up at Juliet in her window, asking her to run away with him.
Which Romeo and Juliet song is your favorite? Can you think of some I missed? Let me know in the comments! (Alternatively, you can just tell me all about how much you love Taylor Swift. That’s totally okay too.)
— Carly H., STACKS Staffer