New and true and gay: The best of Luther Vandross

Eleven years ago, I wrote a consideration of Luther Vandross for Stylus. Many of my points now embarrass me, but I’ll post it anyway. To call Luther Vandross the greatest R&B singer of the era reminds me of what my French teacher said about Victor Hugo: greatest isn’t “necessarily” the best. Yet listening to the songs on the list below as I’ve aged has been an education in comprehending how we worship love as a substitute for love itself — the coppery taste of desire, ungratified and persistent. Votive candles lit for unseen presences are comforts.

1. Give Me the Reason
2. Glow of Love
3. Stop to Love
4. The Other Side of the World
5. It’s Over Now
6. Never Too Much
7. Sugar and Spice
8. If Only For One Night
9. So Amazing
10. Power of Love/Love Power
11. I’ll Let You Slide
12. Any Love
13. The Night I Fell in Love
14. Searching
15. A House is Not a Home
16. I’ve Been Working
17. She Loves Me Back
18. Dance with My Father
19. The Rush
20. The Best Things in Life Are Free

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