Driving home on Father's Day, I had the pleasure of catching on the adult contemporary station one of the very best ballads of the nineties. Although it led to the inevitable saccharine Disney ballad, and remains the peak of Vanessa L. Willams' career in the era before Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, and Brandy effected a version of the R&B ballad toughened and inflected by hip-hop, "Save The Best For Last" is also a kind of peak for this kind of deliberately classic songwriting: the metaphors are rote but rounded neatly, and for once the piano and strings don't smother the singer -- who, by the way, sounds like a real human being; this song wouldn't be as memorable in the hands of a self-appointed Classy Dame like Anita Baker or gimlet-eyed up-and-comer like Mariah Carey. "Save The Best For Last" conveys a modesty without banality: living within your means, learning without ostentation, loving and being loved not an iota more than you deserve ("Love Is," her other Top Fiver from the era and a duet with Brian McKnight, is almost as memorable).
ADDENDUM: Wow. I had no idea this even existed. Greil Marcus always surprises you.