When thinking about the best love songs of all time, one’s mind leaps first to the obvious; songs with “love” in the title, or a televised version of “All You Need is Love”, but probe slightly deeper and you will find a murky swamp of music that is all, in a little way, about the idea of love.
Out of this huge pool, one occasionally discovers a special gem, a song that touches you in a way you some how remember, and you find yourself playing it on repeat, for 7 days, thinking about someone so hard you’re sure they can feel it… then you know it was love.
Best love songs of all time #1
You’re My Best Friend
Sung by the late, great Freddie Mercury, this is one of the best love songs, if only for the sheer amount of relationships it could relate to. Sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, friends, friends with benefits; this one includes them all without weirding anyone out.
Freddie was writing about a boy, I bet, but, as with most gay anthems from the ’70s… you’d never guess it. If you are a boy and you put this on a mixed tape for a girl (or boy), s/he will cry.
Best lyric: Whenever this world is cruel to me, ooh, you make me live, and I really love you, you’re my best friend.
Best love songs of all time #2
I’ve Been Waiting for You
With only 7 or so lines of lyrics, 10 tons of gravelly voice, and 3.5 rippin’ guitar solos, this quintessential Canadian cowboy manages to get across exactly what love could be like after going through heaven and probably bits of hell.
What his lyrics lack in bulk his passionate solos make up for in content. The way he cradles the guitar like the nape of a woman’s neck and plays with all his words cannot say…well, let’s just say it’s good.
Best lyric: I’ve been looking for a woman, to save my life, not to beg or to borrow, a woman with the feeling of losing once or twice.
Best love songs of all time #3
My Moon My Man
Feist is yet another superstar Canadian who manages to make music simple in the most addictive sense. The jangly instruments perfectly echo her excitement in girl-talkin’ about her man, and her apparent desire to stretch out their ritualistic mating as long as possible by writing songs about one another and bouncing around in the moonlight.
Best love songs lyric: How honestly my beggar should be, the song’s out of key again, my fools, my things, we’re digging the things, if the candlelit page again.
Best love songs of all time #4
Case of You
This legend of song and twisted lyric is pivotal to the love parade for so many reasons. First, she dated everyone (see above video) and they were all folk singers; second, because when she sings about the “anima rising in her”, you believe her. This song is particularly good for young love and is best on a mixed tape.
Best love songs lyric: Oh I could drink a case of you darling, still I’d be on my feet, oh I would still be on my feet.
Best love songs of all time #5
For Once in My Life
Written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden in 1967, for Motown records, and recorded almost immediately by Stevie Wonder, this song is an upbeat rendition that rocketed to #2 in the US.
The thing about this song is you have a blind, 18-year-old, fledgling star singing about how he can’t believe someone needs him, and how he wants to take care of them and you totally believe him. He is actually way better than a saint because there is no saint alive that wrote a song more prophetic than “MasterBlaster”.
Best love songs lyric: For once, I can say, this is mine, you can’t take it, as long as I know I have love, I can make it, for once in my life, I have someone who needs me.
Best love songs of all time #6
If you have only heard the White Stripes covering this, you need to hear the original as written and sung by the mascot of Dollywood herself. The plaintive strains of her gorgeous voice begging a woman not to “take her man, just because she can” is the only perfect song that deals with the dirty side of girl talk behind the doors of the bathrooms stalls.
A perfect song for wallowing in rejection if you’re of the female persuasion. The best, in fact.
Best love songs lyric: He talks about you in his sleep, and there’s nothin’ I can do to keep, from cryin’ when he calls your name, Jolene…
Best love songs of all time #7
Where is My Love?
I had to check a few sources to make sure this wasn’t a 1,000-year-old Irish folk-tune redone by Cat Power to fantastic, accidental effect. I’m 99% sure she wrote it, but if anyone out there can find me a Zamphir version from 1981, or knows of a 200-year-old woman in a bonnet who sang it at a bar once, let me know – I wouldn’t be surprised.
Best love songs lyric: So close to me, in my arms, finally, there is my love.
Best love songs of all time #8
Beast of Burden
The Rolling Stones
By far the best karaoke song for a man to sing in the general direction of a woman. This song sums up love at its purest. You don’t want to change the person; you just want to be the right one for them. You just want to love them as they are. That is love, in my books.
Best love songs lyric: I’ll never be your beast of burden, I’ve walked for miles my feet are hurting, all I want is for you to make love to me.
Best love songs of all time… and then some
So as you can see, even in this tiny sampling of all the songs about love there is a vast and varying array of the definition of love. There is no limit to the amount of ways this glorious emotion, union, concept, can be expressed.
As long as there are people to sing them, there will be songs about love. I mean, what else is there to sing about?
If you would like to share your own picks for the best love songs of all time, and there are a lot of them, feel free to comment.