I dig torch songs because they speak to the melancholy nostalgia of broken romance, which (let's face it) is the most common type of romance.
Most of you are too young or inclined differently in your music tastes to even know what torch songs are. I didn't pay much attention to this kind of music myself when I was young.
It seems to reflect brooding middle age when the past comes at you like a freight train of sorrow and regret for what might have been.
Torch songs are named after the phrase he or she is "carrying a torch" for somebody. Translation: remembering the one who got away. The one you were supposed to live happily ever after with before the relationship took a wrong turn, stumbled and fell flat on its face like a drunken sailor. In torch songs this was always the Other's fault. You were the innocent victim wearing your heart on your sleave.
The heyday of torch music was the 1930s, 40s and early 50s when it was used in a lot of film noir. But it retained a cult following during the classic era of rock music in the 1960s. Mel Torme, the so-called Velvet Fog, was quite popular then and Peggy Lee had one of her biggest hits with "Is That All There Is?"
Torch songs have a boozy, cigarette-voiced quality to them. You can picture the singer sitting alone in a smoke-filled bar, dredging up the face of a long-lost lover in their mind as they order yet another round. In the words of a tune I enjoy, it's one for my baby and one more for the road.
Listening to torch music has the remarkable ability to make you feel strangely mellow in recalling unhappy romances from the past. It's like a drug to soothe the memory. A cynic might call this wallowing in self-pity, but a good wallow can do wonders to restore the spirit.
Most torch songs were written by men to be sung by women. This is undoubtedly a form of male revenge against every woman who ever dumped a man. If we can't win in real life, we can turn the tables in song.
A modern example of a torch song is Roxy Music's "Slave To Love." That song sends a chill up my spine for all the wrong reasons. My favorite torch singer today is Diana Krall, a sexy big woman with a soft voice and deep blue eyes.