More love songs! Whether silly, pure joy, heartfelt, deep, sappy, or even sad … a great love song will always elicit emotion. I’m back today with another dozen selections of classic, beloved songs about romance. In the previous two blogs (click links below) I briefly explain what constitutes a “love song” and give an overview of the chart statistics and RIAA Certifications.
Each of these 12 song selections (in no particular order) include a YouTube video, a tidbit of history, rankings and sales, and a snippet of the lyrics. Enjoy!
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper (1983)
Lauper co-wrote this song with Rob Hyman, both of them struggling through challenges in their respective romantic relationships. This is such a phenomenal song, lyrically as well as in the musical composition and Lauper’s vocals. Pure poetry conveying the devoted love between two people who have been through trials so severe it may tear them apart, yet they still love each other and will always be there for the other. Searching the various “best love songs” lists, this song is one of the handful found on all of them. It appeared on Lauper’s debut album and became her first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after time
“When You Love a Woman” by Journey (1996)
Written by Journey members Steve Perry, Neal Schon, and Jonathan Cain, this love song was on the group’s 10th album. Released as a single, it hit #1 on Billboard and stayed there for four weeks. It was also nominated for a Grammy. The album marked the reunion of the group after a nearly ten-year hiatus, this hit song providing a strong upward momentum. Sadly, lead singer Steve Perry was injured and required hip surgery before the planned tour commenced. Unable/unwilling to delay, the band members chose to hit the road without Perry (BIG mistake, IMO), effectively ending one of the greatest rock groups of all time.
When you love a woman
You see your world inside her eyes
When you love a woman
(Well) You know she’s standing by your side
A joy that lasts forever
There’s a band of gold that shines
Waiting somewhere, oh, yeah
“Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole (1951)
Written by Irving Gordon, Nat King Cole’s song about an indelible romance has earned a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1991 the song was reworked to create a duet with the late Nat King Cole and daughter Natalie Cole, reaching #3 on the Billboard chart. That video can be watched on YouTube.
Like a song of love that clings to me
How the thought of you
Does things to me
Never before has someone been more
In every way
“I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher (1965)
Written by Sonny Bono for wife Cher, the song was included on their debut album. As a single, it hit #1 on the Billboard chart for three weeks and was certified Gold for selling over one million copies. Of all their successful songs, “I Got You Babe” reigned as their signature song and as a defining recording of the early hippie countercultural movement.
I got flowers in the spring, I got you to wear my ring
And when I’m sad, you’re a clown
And if I get scared, you’re always around
So let them say your hair’s too long
Cause I don’t care, with you I can’t go wrong
Then put your little hand in mine
There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb
“Amazed” by Lonestar (1999)
The rare country song I am familiar with —I am not exactly sure why or how— is this lovely song recorded by Lonestar. Released as a single, the song shot to the top of the Billboard country chart, where it stayed at #1 for eight weeks. It also crossed genres, peaking at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100. While not a first, a country song crossing into the pop chart is rare with only one other song doing so in the 2000s decade, that being “Inside Your Heaven” by Carrie Underwood.
The smell of your skin
The taste of your kiss
The way you whisper in the dark
Your hair all around me
Baby, you surround me
You touch every place in my heart
“You Send Me” by Sam Cooke (1957)
Written by Sam Cooke, the single released in 1957 hit #1 on the Billboard R&B chart. It has been named amongst the “500 Most Important Recordings” by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Rolling Stone magazine voted it No. 115 of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
At first I thought it was infatuation
But, woo, it’s lasted so long
Now I find myself wanting
To marry you and take you home, whoa
“How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You)” by James Taylor (1975)
This song was written by a Motown team and first recorded by soul artist Marvin Gaye in 1964. Gaye’s version peaked at #3 on the US R&B chart and was his most successful song up to that time. Listen to Gaye’s version on YouTube. James Taylor’s relaxed rendition rose swiftly to #1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart and, of all the subsequent remakes, remains the most successful and popular.
I close my eyes at night
Wondering where would I be without you in my life
Everything I did was just a bore
Everywhere I went it seems I’d been there before
But you brighten up for me all of my days
With a love so sweet in so many ways
I wanna stop and thank you, baby
“Your Song” by Elton John (1970)
Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, the song was originally released by rock bank Three Dog Night in March 1970. At the time, Elton John was the opening act for Three Dog Night and he was thrilled to have them record it. The group, however, declined to release it as a single, believing the up-and-coming artist should record the song for his second studio album. John did, releasing it as a B-side single in late 1970. Radio stations gave both songs equal airplay, “Your Song” rising to #8 on Billboard. Despite the modest reception at the time, “Your Song” was eventually certified Gold and Platinum status, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and ranks high on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame‘s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll” list.
My gift is my song, and this one’s for you
And you can tell everybody
This is your song
It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in the words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world
“Without You” by Harry Nilsson (1971)
This one appears to fall in the lost love category, although when written in 1970 by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of the rock group Badfinger it was a melding of “warm, sweet, sentimental” and “intense, dramatic, heartbreaking” as they were each dealing with the rigors of maintaining relationships while touring. Badfinger recorded the song but it was not released as a single. Only a year later, Nilsson was given rights to the song, his hauntingly beautiful recording swiftly rising to #1 for a five-week run. It won Nilsson a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance and holds a spot on Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Harry Nilsson rarely performed live and there are no existing recordings of him singing the song, so the video below is audio with photos.
I can’t live, if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give any more
Can’t live, if living is without you
I can’t give, I can’t give any more
“Dream a Little Dream of Me” by The Mamas and The Papas (1968)
This adorable love song was written in 1931 and recorded several times by mostly big bands, orchestra groups, and classic crooners. Fast forward to the 1960s, Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas introduced the song to her band mates as a lighthearted ditty they would sing for fun. Phillips’ father was friends with one of the original writers, so it was a song she grew up hearing. It was Mama Cass Elliot, however, who suggested recording the song for their fourth album. The group agreed, Cass Elliot performing solo, and the song was released as a B-side single, reaching the #2 spot on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. Others have recorded the song since, but none came close to this version.
Stars fadin’ but I linger on, dear
Still cravin’ your kiss
I’m longin’ to linger ’til dawn, dear
Just saying this
Sweet dreams ’til sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams, whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me
“Lady” by Kenny Rogers (1980)
This gorgeous country love song was written by Rhythm & Blues artist Lionel Richie for country star Kenny Rogers, a rather odd pairing on face value. It worked, of course, the song a huge success for Richie and Rogers. For Richie, it was his first production away from the Commodores, setting the stage for his solo career. For Rogers, already a big star with dozens of hits on both country and contemporary charts, “Lady” became the first song of 1980 to chart on ALL four of the Billboard charts, three at the #1 spot! “Lady” is listed at #60 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100.
And in my eyes
I see no one else but you
There’s no other love like our love
And, oh, girl I’ll always want you near me
I’ve waited for you for so long
Speaking of Lionel Richie… a love song list cannot exist without including “Endless Love”. Written by Richie, the duet with Diana Ross of the Supremes was recorded for Motown and used as the theme for the film Endless Love. The movie was a modest success but the song became the second biggest-selling single of 1981. It topped the Billboard R&B and Contemporary charts and Billboard named it the greatest song duet of all-time. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, the duo performing together at the ceremony, which can be watched below.
You’ll be the only one
‘Cause no one can deny
This love I have inside
And I’ll give it all to you
My love, my love
My endless love
Thirty-six love songs shared so far with more to come!
Tell me which are your favorites from the list above.
What love songs top your personal favorite list?