We’re never more vulnerable than when we express our love for another person, and I think properly expressing that vulnerability is one of the hardest things a pop songwriter can try to do. Too often, we’re willing to settle for sentimentality, irony, or cute humor — unnecessary layers built up around a simple, powerful emotion. And it’s understandable, really; when you’re talking about something that boils down to three simple words, you have to find some way of filling up your three minutes.

For a song that most people have never heard — recorded for the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s Clockers, a movie most people have never seen — I think Bruce Hornsby and Chaka Khan’s “Love Me Still” does a pretty tremendous job of expressing the hope and vulnerability of that emotion. It’s a simple song, but it’s honest, and it’s one of the lovelier, more unappreciated entries in a catalog filled with them.

Starting with the quiet bravery of the first line, “Here is my hand for you to hold,” the song echoes places we’ve all been: the declaration of love, the line drawn between “us” and “them,” the bittersweet rush of coming home to another person, the all-important question — do you love me still? One of the things I like best about Hornsby is his need to keep moving musically; few artists have the talent, or the cojones, to wander so far from the sounds and styles that have brought them the most success. But I think his best quality might be his gift for expressing pure emotional openness and honesty, and this song is a case in point. Here are three versions: an instrumental, the soundtrack cut featuring Khan’s vocals, and a live solo performance taken from Hornsby’s box set, Intersections: 1985-2005.

Love Me Still (instrumental)
Love Me Still (Chaka Khan)
Love Me Still (live)

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  • Jake R

     I Googled “Love Me Still” because I “lost” the burned disc I had with the BH solo version of this great song. I enjoy the “Clockers” soundtrack one with Chaka Khan’s vocals, the spareness of the piano-only one is what moves me.

    Thank you for having all three versions of the song available on your blog, and for the nice introductory piece you wrote about the lyrics.