Song Spotlight: “The Glory of Love”

Valentine’s Day is coming up next week, so that means it’s time a for a spotlight on one of my favorite love songs: “The Glory of Love.” This song was written by Billy Hill in the 1930s and made famous by Benny Goodman. It has since been covered by many singers, including Dean Martin, Otis Redding, Eddy Arnold and Bette Midler, and was also the theme song to the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Here is a recording by Peggy Lee

This song has a lovely, light, jazzy feel to it. which is a sound preferred by many of my older adult clients, and many of them recognize the song and can sing parts of it. What I love about this song, though, is the lyrics. Here are the first few lines:

You’ve got to give a little, take a little

And let your poor heart break a little

That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love

You’ve got to laugh a little, cry a little

Before the clouds roll by a little

That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love

This song is different from many love songs in that it acknowledges the give and take inherent in any successful relationship. It leaves room to talk about the hard times in a relationship, and it gives people a chance to talk about their relationships in a more honest, authentic way: Of course people who have been married 50+ years had some hard times. Of course parents and children have had some arguments! The joy (the glory?) of that kind of relationship comes from seeing the hard times through and still being together.

This song could be great for starting a discussion among family members about those special relationships. It also works well for a group setting because it allows a lot of room for people who have been though and are currently experiencing various stages of relationships. People who are happily married, people whose spouses have died, people who were divorced, people who have distant relationships with their children – all of them can participate in a discussion surrounding this song.

What kind of questions might you ask to start a discussion? Here are a few ideas:

When did you give a little? When did you take a little?

When did your poor heart break a little?

Tell me about times when you laughed and when you cried together.

Questions like these could lead to personal stories (Remember that time when you were going to let me drive the car and I wrecked it pulling out of the driveway? Yup, you still loved me anyway!) or sensitive topics (When did your heart break a little? When your father died), so do be ready for whatever might come up in the conversation. Again, the great thing about this song is that by acknowledging the more difficult times in a relationship, it can help validate and contain those difficult feelings at the same time. Simply being with your loved one as you experience this song will help them to feel your love and support.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this song and on any other great love songs that you know. Please leave your comment below!

This post is part of an occasional series on special songs to share with your loved ones. For more song spotlights, click here.


  1. musicsparks on February 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    You are correct in saying the discussion of song lyrics can bring topics of all types. Often that is what allows us to hear the stories of the person – a song that sparks a memory. Thanks for brining this song popular in so many decades back to my “playlist”.

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