What is the best love song you've ever heard?
September 10, 2009 12:58 PM   Subscribe

What is the best love song you've ever heard? Not sticky-sweet or sappy, but genuinely romantic. Any genre will do.
posted by jjg to Media & Arts (191 answers total) 186 users marked this as a favorite
 
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
posted by Damn That Television at 12:59 PM on September 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


True Love Will Find You In the End by Daniel Johnston.

Simple chords, heartbreaking vocal melody, great advice.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:01 PM on September 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


I've always thought that Robert Plant's cover of "Sea of Love" was a perfect expression of romance.
Also Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways"
And Etta James' "At Last"
posted by Reverend John at 1:04 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the reasons I've always loved Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" is because -- to my mind -- it's a far more realistic idea of what love actually is:

"I get so tired working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive."

So many other songs are the sticky-sweet, "oh, life will be wonderful and everything will be happy and we'll never cry again and I'll love you forever and blahblahblah". But that never happens -- life is tough. Life gets you down sometimes, and even the most wonderful partner won't ever stop life from trampling on you.

But that's not supposed to be the way it works anyway. A real partner can't protect you from life kicking you in the teeth -- but a real partner CAN encourage you to get back out in the ring when it does. And that's what I'm looking for, and this is one of the few songs I've heard that depicts love that way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:05 PM on September 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


I love "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds.
posted by inturnaround at 1:06 PM on September 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


You Rule, by Jim's Big Ego
posted by bondcliff at 1:07 PM on September 10, 2009


Falling in Love by NOFX

Really.
posted by Seamus at 1:09 PM on September 10, 2009


D'oh. Forgot to link to the song itself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:10 PM on September 10, 2009


First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes
posted by Sara Anne at 1:11 PM on September 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


Seconding Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." Here's a live version.
posted by amyms at 1:14 PM on September 10, 2009


"Come Rain or Come Shine" by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer.

The definitive Ray Charles performance was used to memorable effect at the beginning of The King of Comedy and at the end of the thirtysomething episode where Ellyn gets married.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:14 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Probably I've Got You and You've Got Me by New Buffalo.

But also very possibly Pure by the Lightning Seeds.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:15 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, Paul McCartney & Wings "Maybe I'm Amazed."
posted by amyms at 1:17 PM on September 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


In Spite of Ourselves, John Prine and Iris Dement
posted by amarynth at 1:17 PM on September 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


will johnson - just to know

lenka - knock knock
posted by nadawi at 1:17 PM on September 10, 2009


Loose by Therapy
posted by runincircles at 1:19 PM on September 10, 2009


My first thought when seeing this on the front page was to suggest Buddy Holly's True Love Ways, but then saw it had already been suggested almost immediately.

Others:

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows

The Beatles - Something

Stevie Wonder - You Are the Sunshine of my Life
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:20 PM on September 10, 2009


God Only Knows, by the Beach Boys. Obvous, yes, and quite possibly sappy to some, but it gets me every time.
posted by bmarkey at 1:21 PM on September 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


Eva Cassidy's version of Fields of Gold
posted by jquinby at 1:22 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


At Last - Etta James

For something a little Indie, consider Red Right Ankle - The Decemberists
posted by baltimoretim at 1:22 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ooh, seconding "God Only Knows" and "Maybe I'm Amazed."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:22 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, "This Must Be The Place" is probably tied for me with Iron and Wine's "Resurrection Fern," which you might find morbid or sad but I just love. We walked down the aisle to this song, with my dad playing it and my friend singing. It makes me think of lives well-lived, of the many, many, many "ordinary" moments that make up a life with someone.

And we'll undress beside the ashes of the fire/Both our tender bellies wound in baling wire/All the more a pair of underwater pearls/Than the oak tree and its resurrection fern.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:22 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm partial to the acoustic version of "Time After Time" that appears on Cyndi Lauper's "The Body Acoustic".

Though I would be remiss if I did not mention Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter". Oh, and Jewel's "You Were Meant For Me" as well.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:26 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


A part of me is really, really curious what precipitated this -- but I'm also gathering fodder for a great mix tape, so thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on September 10, 2009


I Will - the Beatles. It's short and sweet and just lovely.
posted by fresh-rn at 1:28 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nthing God Only Knows. Not the biggest Beach Boy fan, but that song is pretty astounding.

A little overplayed at the moment, but Signed Sealed Delivered is also high on the list. Me and a girl I used to date decided that You Really Got a Hold On Me, by Smokey Robinson was our song. I think it would shock people, but I never thought of it as anything but loving. Maybe the Nina Simone version of To Love Somebody.
posted by hue at 1:30 PM on September 10, 2009


Wild is the Wind, both the Nina Simone and the David Bowie versions.
posted by kimdog at 1:32 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, it may be a weird pick, but I've also been partial to "She's an Angel" by They Might Be Giants.
posted by inturnaround at 1:32 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wonderful, by Eric Clapton
posted by stray at 1:32 PM on September 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sick of Myself- Matthew Sweet
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 1:34 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kentucky Avenue - Tom Waits

It's probably an acquired taste, but it is one of the most achingly romantic songs I've ever heard. The singer runs through a litany of all these highly meaningful [to him] things in his life he's going to share with his partner.
posted by chazlarson at 1:35 PM on September 10, 2009


Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields is my personal fave.
posted by jessamyn at 1:38 PM on September 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


I like "I Want To Grown Old With You" from the Wedding Singer.

It was the song my husband and I chose for our first dance at our wedding. Yeah, it's a little silly, but it's a pretty realistic view on marriage - it talks about the ordinary things like washing dishes, the furnace breaking, and drinking too much.
posted by tryniti at 1:38 PM on September 10, 2009


The Postal Service have two on the same album:

"Such Great Heights" and "Brand New Colony."
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:38 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I'm Walking Behind" Sinatra in a bit of the stalker mode. I'm a Sucker for the idea of undying love.
posted by pianomover at 1:39 PM on September 10, 2009


actually, I think the answer is "If I Needed You" by Townes van Zandt.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:40 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It has to be a perfect lovesong.
posted by dogsbody at 1:41 PM on September 10, 2009


Perfect Day by Lou Reed.
posted by jedicus at 1:42 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry because it is kind of sickly sweet, but I am quite partial to Art Garfunkel's Finally Found a Reason. (lyrics)
posted by Meatbomb at 1:43 PM on September 10, 2009


Seconding Bright Eyes 'First day of my life' (and a sweet little anecdote about Conor Oberst and this song - I was dating an employee of his for a while when the record came out. A couple mailed Conor telling him they wanted to use the song as their first dance at their wedding, but wondered if they could have a slower version. So Conor went the next morning and re-recorded it for them, slower. I thought that was really incredibly nice. I don't think a lot of moderately famous musicians would do that...).

Seconding also the Beatles 'Something.'

Michael Jackson - I Just Can't Stop Loving You

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps

In a slightly twisted way, Stephen Sondheim's - 'I am unworthy of your love' from Assassins.

Wilco - I'm the Man Who Loves You

And probably my all-time favorite - If I Could by Storyhill.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:43 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ooh and a huge second for Book of Love by the MF's
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:44 PM on September 10, 2009


This one makes me tear up everytime I hear it. More about infatuation instead of love. A true classic
posted by bravowhiskey at 1:47 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sawdust and Diamonds
posted by bricoleur at 1:47 PM on September 10, 2009


"I Like You" - Morrissey
posted by useyourmachinegunarm at 1:49 PM on September 10, 2009


As Long As by Johnny Cash
Love is Like a Bottle of Gin by Magnetic Fields
Hotter Than Mojave in my Heart by Iris Dement
The Book of Love by Magnetic Fields
Oh! by Sleater Kinney
That's Us/Wild Combination by Arthur Russell
I'll Come Running (to Tie Your Shoe) by Brian Eno
Might Tell You Tonight by Scissor Sisters
Papa was a Rodeo by The Magnetic Fields
Brand New Colony by Postal Service
I've Got a Crush on You, Frank Sinatra
Your Love (is More than I Ever Hoped For) by Al Green
posted by amarynth at 1:51 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I really like "For Emily Wherever I May Find Her" by Simon and Garfunkel. The live versions always sound better than the studio one as well, the definitive recording being the one on Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits.
posted by brighton at 1:55 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Little Moments by Brad Paisley is pretty sappy, but I also think it's one of the most romantic country songs out there.

I'm also a big fan of So Close from Enchanted. Used in the movie as a sad song, I still think the lyrics are VERY romantic.
posted by specialagentwebb at 1:56 PM on September 10, 2009


Love is Strong, for the one way creepy stalker love situation.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:57 PM on September 10, 2009


"Melt" by Phil Roy.

http://www.myspace.com/philroyband
posted by lpsguy at 1:57 PM on September 10, 2009


Incubus' acoustic recording of I Miss You has some serious singing chops
posted by chalbe at 1:59 PM on September 10, 2009


"I Believe" by Stevie Wonder...
posted by bunny hugger at 2:01 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


'Muskrat Love.' For me, at least. YMMV.
posted by spamguy at 2:02 PM on September 10, 2009


Lets Stay Together by Al Green
posted by shmurley at 2:06 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know if this will work for anyone other than my wife and I, but I'll throw it out there anyway: I Love You So by Les Thugs.
posted by bmarkey at 2:09 PM on September 10, 2009


I love a lot of the ones already mentioned. A couple of others on my list would be Wilco's "Reservations" and The Pixies' "Letter to Memphis" (something about the way he sings "trying to get to you" gets me every time - although it's much better on the album than on the clip I've linked to here).
posted by katie at 2:10 PM on September 10, 2009


oops. . . "Reservations" is here!
posted by katie at 2:11 PM on September 10, 2009


13 Months in 6 minutes - The Wrens
posted by axiom at 2:11 PM on September 10, 2009


I absolutely cannot find a non-live recording of this, but I'm shocked that Nick Cave's "Into My Arms" has not yet been mentioned.

Here's a live version.

posted by WidgetAlley at 2:14 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


No question...

"45 Years" by Stan Rogers... listen and weep!
posted by newfers at 2:16 PM on September 10, 2009


25 Days by Hello Saferide
You Will Love This Song by Amber Rubarth
When U Were Mine by Prince
posted by 23skidoo at 2:19 PM on September 10, 2009


Für Elise always got to me.
posted by not_on_display at 2:21 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would agree with Damn That Television: Hands down, without a doubt, This Must Be The Place by the Talking Heads is the best love song ever.

Honorables go to "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys, "Eight Days a Week" by the Beatles, and if you feel gross and desperate, "To Bring You My Love" by PJ Harvey.
posted by kensington314 at 2:22 PM on September 10, 2009


And WidgetAlley mentions Nick Cave: What about "Straight to You"? That is another really good one.
posted by kensington314 at 2:23 PM on September 10, 2009


White Flag . . . Dido

Follow Me . . . Uncle Kracker

Anymore . . . Travis Tritt

Hurt . . . Johnny Cash
posted by Sassyfras at 2:26 PM on September 10, 2009


Nthing "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel, and "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper

Also, "Mysteries of Love" by Julee Cruise from the "Blue Velvet" soundtrack. (Sounds like a strange source for a great love song, but really, it's so gorgeous and ethereal...)

Though really, probably above even all of those I'd put the Liebestod from Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde." (link is to YouTube of Jessye Norman performing it - and she would be my favorite singer for it.)
posted by dnash at 2:26 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Summertime Rolls- Jane's Addiction
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 2:27 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


oh, and what about Lilac Wine by Jeff Buckley?
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:27 PM on September 10, 2009


One more, which I can't believe I forgot: This Is Love by PJ Harvey. Bonus points awarded for bitchin' video.
posted by bmarkey at 2:30 PM on September 10, 2009


Let it Grow, EC
Chances Are, Johnny Mathis
Scarlet Begonias, Hunter/Garcia
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:31 PM on September 10, 2009


I've got two: I'll Never Find Another You but The Seekers (channeling Judith Durham):

If they gave me a fortune my pleasure would be small
I could lose it all tomorrow and never mind at all,
But if I should lose your love, dear, I don't know what I'd do,
For I know I'll never find another you.

Then there's 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me', notably by Mel Carter:

They told me "Be sensible with your new love,
Don't be fooled thinking this is the last you'll find".
But they never stood in the dark with you, love,
When you take me in your arms and drive me slowly out of my mind.

Ah - finest kind...
posted by DandyRandy at 2:32 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The sun can't compare by Larry Head presents Mr. White. Simplistic, but soo sweet.
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:32 PM on September 10, 2009


Also, for Stevie Wonder I always preferred "I Was Made To Love Her."
posted by kensington314 at 2:33 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Love Song" by the Cure. But the 311 version is better.
posted by SheIsMighty at 2:34 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beautiful Freak, Eels
Say Yes, Elliott Smith

pssst, axiom, want to come over and listen to records?
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:43 PM on September 10, 2009


"book of love" by magnetic fields, definitely.

if my sweetie and i ever get married, i strongly suspect that will be the song for our first dance.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:53 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've Found a Reason by The Velvet Underground
Underwater (You and Me) by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie
Fools Rush In by Bow Wow Wow (or their version of it, anyway)
Ambulance by TV On the Radio
posted by scarykarrey at 2:54 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


These are all standards so I won't link to any particular version:

Body & Soul
My Funny Valentine
The Nearness of You
Time After Time (the Sammy Cahn / Jule Styne song)
The Way You Look Tonight
posted by timeistight at 2:55 PM on September 10, 2009


When My Baby's Beside Me - Big Star
Rosalita - Bruce Springsteen
Do You Realize? - The Flaming Lips

And too many Magnetic Fields songs to name. A few highlights:
Strange Powers (probably my personal fave on this list, but I'll change my mind if I keep thinking about it)
100,000 Fireflies
I Don't Really Love You Anymore
The Book of Love (mentioned by at least 2 others so far; I they're not wrong)
Washington, DC
Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side
Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin (also mentioned upthread)
posted by willpie at 3:02 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Have A Little Faith In Me, John Hiatt
posted by nicwolff at 3:03 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The kd lang version of Cole Porter's So In Love always gets me.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:09 PM on September 10, 2009


You hear people talk about how honest "God Only Knows" is, what with the "I may not always love you" bit. But for my money, the real gut-punch honest love song has got to be Tom Waits's Take It With Me.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:11 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"That's How Strong (My Love Is)" by Otis Redding
Already mentioned, but I love Cat Power's version of "Sea of Love" from the Juno soundtrack.
"All I Want Is You" Barry Polisar (also from the Juno soundtrack)
"Ice Cream" Sarah Maclachlan
"Let My Love Open the Door" Pete Townshend (yes, he is singing about religion, but a thousand movies can't be wrong)
"Love You Madly" Cake

nthing "Book of Love" and "This Must Be the Place".
posted by lemonwheel at 3:16 PM on September 10, 2009


Not Given Lightly - Chris Knox
posted by gaspode at 3:20 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aww man, Cat Power did that cover wayyy before Juno was a twinkle in Diablo Cody's eye. Her Covers Record also features a cover of the Velvet Underground tune I mentioned upthread, and it's haunting.
posted by scarykarrey at 3:21 PM on September 10, 2009


I'd go with "Thank You" by Led Zeppelin (from II). Plus, bonus points for a sweet (but not horribly sappy) love song sandwiched between "The Lemon Song" and "Heartbreaker" on the album.
posted by JMOZ at 3:22 PM on September 10, 2009


"Desire", Ryan Adams. Times a million billion jillion.
posted by GuffProof at 3:26 PM on September 10, 2009


I'm a fan of Maxwell - "...Til The Cops Come Knockin" or "Whenever, Wherever, Whatever".

Then there is Patti LaBelle's "Love, Need and Want You" along with "If Only You Knew" standout as well. I prefer Patti's recorded versions though as her live work is just off the chart insane.
posted by mikeinclifton at 3:29 PM on September 10, 2009


Its not a straight up love song, more about missing someone and being separated from them, but I love Lily Allen's Chinese for how it perfectly captures how great even life's little mundane activities can be when you're with someone you love.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 3:43 PM on September 10, 2009


Doc Pomus crippled from Polio as a child wrote this song for his wife.
posted by pianomover at 3:58 PM on September 10, 2009


More votes for:

The Luckiest - Ben Folds
I Will Follow You Into the Dark - Death Cab for Cutie

New suggestions:

The Light and Come Close - Common
Whenever You Call - Mariah Carey & Brian McKnight
posted by LouMac at 4:04 PM on September 10, 2009


"I Will Wait For You" as sung by Connie Francis at the end of the Futurama episode "Jurrasic Bark"
posted by Cogito at 4:09 PM on September 10, 2009


Me Gustas Tu, Manu Chao.
posted by joeyo at 4:11 PM on September 10, 2009


I think the most ROMANTIC song ever is about lost love.

Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt.

But I'd gladly cast my vote for "In Your Eyes" or "Time After Time"
posted by Spyder's Game at 4:25 PM on September 10, 2009


Paul McCartney's Calico Skies
posted by bluestocking at 4:28 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've always loved "Let's stay together" by Al Green. It makes me think of how much I love my wife.
posted by Draccy at 4:35 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Oh Yoko" by John Lennon
posted by oh really at 4:38 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I Won't Spend Another Night Alone by The Ataris.
posted by ish__ at 4:38 PM on September 10, 2009


"God Only Knows" has got to be #1. But here's a couple that haven't been mentioned yet:

Bonnie Tyler - "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (written by Jim Steinman): very over-the-top, but if you can get past the 80s production cheesiness, it's got a strong hint of the same ambivalence that everyone loves in "God Only Knows".

Guided By Voices - "Smothered in Hugs": this is surely the #1 star-crossed lovers, just-the-two-of-us-against-the-world song of all time.
posted by equalpants at 4:55 PM on September 10, 2009


Material Issue "Very First Lie"

Also, "Within Your Reach" by the Replacements just utterly kills me every time.
posted by padraigin at 5:10 PM on September 10, 2009


Lucky by Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat.
posted by chiababe at 5:12 PM on September 10, 2009


XTC, Yacht Dance. Heartbreakingly optimistic and elegiac all at once.
posted by ROTFL at 5:14 PM on September 10, 2009


Just about any song off Sinatra's 'In the Wee Small Hours' or 'Only the Lonely'.

The lack of Sinatra in this thread is astonishingly. Guess I'm old.
posted by justgary at 5:16 PM on September 10, 2009


Second Language, by Disco Inferno
posted by Rinku at 5:27 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Will you still love me tomorrow?" - The Shirelles

Crux of the matter taken head on.
posted by fire&wings at 5:30 PM on September 10, 2009


Nick Cave - The Ship Song
The Pogues - Rainy Night In Soho
and no-one will know this song, but Dieselhed - Cloud of Diesel (here's a bad quality live Youtube link)
posted by Kafkaesque at 5:34 PM on September 10, 2009


I'll Be Your Mirror
posted by anagrama at 5:39 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Zombies-This Will Be Our Year.
posted by redsparkler at 5:39 PM on September 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ceremony, by Joy Division/New Order. At least I think it's a love song.
posted by stargell at 5:40 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm Not In Love - 10cc
You Were Meant For Me - Jewel
posted by torquemaniac at 5:48 PM on September 10, 2009


"True Companion," Marc Cohn
"If I should fall behind," Bruce Springsteen
"Ribbon in the Sky," Stevie Wonder
"For You," John Denver
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:59 PM on September 10, 2009


Billy Bragg's "Ontario, Quebec and Me" is a little tiny piece of perfection. Your standards for sappy may vary.

Connectedly, Woody Guthrie/Wilco's "Remember the Mountain Bed"

Seconding Etta James's "At Last."

Dave Van Ronk, "Another Time and Place" (clips, lyrics)
posted by hippugeek at 6:03 PM on September 10, 2009


Indigo Girls - Love's Recovery
posted by pearlybob at 6:04 PM on September 10, 2009


Neil Finn's "Turn and Run." To me, that song is what love is.

I also find Sparklehorse's "Hundreds of Sparrows" romantic, but possibly that's just me.
posted by darksong at 6:07 PM on September 10, 2009


Power of Two, the Indigo Girls.

"i'm stronger than the monster beneath your bed/ smarter than the tricks played on your heart/ we'll look at them together then we'll take them apart/ adding up the total of a love that's true/ multiply life by the power of two"

The second thing that came to mind was k.d. lang's entire oeuvre, particularly her albums "Invincible Summer" and "Ingenue."

(...and that's how you know you're a dyke.)
posted by besonders at 6:12 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Billy Bragg, "Brickbat."
"Something Good" from the Sound of Music
Dixie Chicks, "Cowboy Take Me Away"
Stevie Wonder, "I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever"
The Beatles, "Something"

Like "God Only Knows," I think these songs reflect the fact that the uncertainty and pain of a relationship are really what make the other moments -- the small, quiet, indescribable ones -- so important.

Of course, the moment I knew my garage-rock boyfriend loved me was when he put something from the Ethel Merman Disco Album on a mix cd :)
posted by Madamina at 6:12 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


These arms of mine
Angel baby
Blue Moon
Let's stay together
Are you lonely tonight?
Crying
Oh Donna
Something
In my life
posted by xammerboy at 6:22 PM on September 10, 2009


Also, can I just lose any dignity I have left here and state, for the record, that "I Got You, Babe" is actually a pretty good one? I dunno; I woke up one morning and it was in my head (no, I was not in a little town in Pennsylvania) and thought, "You know, it's simple and it works."

Fine. Here, have the Beavis and Butthead version.
posted by Madamina at 6:24 PM on September 10, 2009


For me, it is hands down, Cocovado. The image of an older couple, having lived long and hard, made many mistakes, but found true happiness in one another in a cafe in Rio. You can't beat it!
posted by chicago2penn at 6:25 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


some will think it is too sweet..but I can't help but think that Annie's Song is the best love song I have ever heard
posted by naplesyellow at 6:25 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mirrorball by Elbow.
posted by natalinha at 6:29 PM on September 10, 2009


(It's raining schmoopy in this thread. I sort of like that. :)

The Adagio from the Concierto de Aranjuez, by Joaquín Rodrigo. (The elder couple featured in the clip are the composer and his wife, Victoria.)
posted by arachnid at 6:35 PM on September 10, 2009


Pete Townshend — "Let My Love Open The Door" (E. Cola mix) from the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack.

We played it for our first dance at our wedding reception and I still get teary every time I hear it. *snif*
posted by Lexica at 6:40 PM on September 10, 2009


Ben Harper — Not Fire, Not Ice
Jamiroquai — Spend A Lifetime
posted by thisjax at 6:47 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Poi Dog Pondering covering the Roky Erickson song I Had To Tell You. It's from the album Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson

I included the song on my MeFi summer swap mix.
posted by Sailormom at 7:00 PM on September 10, 2009


Tom Waits - Johnsburg Illinois
posted by Arch_Stanton at 7:07 PM on September 10, 2009


I came to this thread just to see if anyone would mention Take It With Me by Tom Waits. nebulawindphone has it spot on. The song is truly, wrenchingly beautiful. So beautiful it hurts.

From an interview with Waits:

"I tell Waits there's a piano ballad on his new album, "Take It With Me," that makes me cry, mostly because of the last verse.

In a land there's a town
And in that town there's a house
And in that house there's a woman
And in that woman there's a heart I love
I'm gonna take it with me when I go

He droops his head bashfully. "That's a very vulnerable song," he says. "We wrote that together, Kathleen and I, and that felt good. Two people who are in love writing a song about being in love." Then he puts two triangles of toast in front of his eyes, because I'm crying just thinking about it, and maybe behind the toast he's tearing up, too."

posted by dephlogisticated at 7:09 PM on September 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Oh god, dephlogisticated, I just read that quote, and I teared up. I loved Tom Waits before, but I love him even more, now.
posted by msali at 7:59 PM on September 10, 2009


+1 for The Luckiest by Ben Folds.
+1 for God Only Knows by the Beach Boys.

Forever - Ben Harper
Throw Your Arms Around Me - Eddie Vedder, Hunters & Collectors, Neil Finn... take your pick.
You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio - Joni Mitchell, but the link goes to a version by She & Him

Too many to even think of right now. :)
posted by speeb at 8:08 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The Book of Love" is the one for me too. I used to dream about singing it at my eventual wedding, then I married someone who hated the Magnetic Fields. Probably all for the best.

"Be Nice to Me" by Todd Rundgren always makes me tear up a little too. Todd is not really known for being the most sensitive guy, but that song is so sweet.

Robyn Hitchcock's "So You Think You're In Love" always makes me smile, reminding me what it's like to have a crush: "So you think you're in love / Well you probably are" - "Are you sure that it's wise / Well it probably ain't / But you shouldn't be faint about it".
posted by dfan at 8:12 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a big Tom Waits fan but there's something about that line "I'm gonna take it with me when I go" that I take the wrong way and it makes the song horrific. I'm sorry if I just ruined that for you.

Anyway, I like a jilted love tune, so I'll suggest

Crazy - Patsy Cline
Several Police tunes including:
Does Everyone Stare
Bed's to Big Without You
Can't Stand Losing You
Every Breath You Take

I must admit that "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Fack" by Roberta Flack makes me tear up for some reason.

But the best love song I've ever heard could possibly be "Not as Much as Football" by Mojo Nixon.
posted by Tixylix at 8:31 PM on September 10, 2009


Richard & Linda Thompson - A Heart Needs A Home
posted by various at 8:33 PM on September 10, 2009



In Spite of Ourselves, John Prine and Iris Dement


No really, this is the single most romantic song ever written. In fact, whether you cry listening to this or not is a pretty good test of whether you're actually in love.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:41 PM on September 10, 2009


I'm a big Tom Waits fan but there's something about that line "I'm gonna take it with me when I go" that I take the wrong way and it makes the song horrific.

The memory, ya jerk.

posted by nebulawindphone at 8:45 PM on September 10, 2009


Come Rain or Come Shine sung by Dinah Washington

All Right, Okay, You Win performed by Count Basie & Joe Williams

My One And Only Love performed by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
posted by brookeb at 8:49 PM on September 10, 2009


Unforgettable - Nat King Cole
posted by faineant at 8:55 PM on September 10, 2009


"Oh Yoko" by John Lennon

Seconded. Top of the list, that one.

Also pretty good is the oddly similar (but weirder and wordier) "I Want You" by Bob Dylan.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:58 PM on September 10, 2009


Oh, god -

I know some people automatically cringe at the sound of his voice, but I've never managed to listen to Bob Dylan singing Make You Feel My Love all the way through without bursting into tears.

*sniff*
posted by Space Kitty at 9:00 PM on September 10, 2009


Oh, and, well, you won't hear it at any weddings (I hope), but Neil Young's "A Man Needs A Maid" puts an interesting twist on the sappy love ballad.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:04 PM on September 10, 2009


Georgia on my Mind -- Ray Charles
My Funny Valentine -- Michelle Pfeiffer
Love Letters -- Ketty Lester
Time and Tide -- Basia
Ain't No Sunshine -- Bill Withers
Bridge Over Troubled Water -- Simon and Garfunkel
Eres Tu -- Mocedades
Come Monday -- Jimmy Buffett
You Are So Beautiful -- Joe Cocker
The Man With the Child in His Eyes -- Kate Bush
Waltz Across Texas -- Leon Russell
La Vie En Rose -- Bette Midler
The Shadow of Your Smile -- Tony Bennett
posted by joaquim at 9:09 PM on September 10, 2009


Bar none, The Temptation of Adam by Josh Ritter.
posted by raygan at 9:11 PM on September 10, 2009


Postal Service: Brand New Colony

Get past the initial Atari intro and you'll find the best-written plea for what love can do, at once astoundingly grounded and realistic and yet soaringly idealistic. I put this as the closing track on the first mix CD I made for my girlfriend. I we should ever get married, expect this to play at the reception.

Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism

More Ben Gibbard, so more great writing, but it goes beyond just the plaintive, gorgeous coda of "I need you so much closer." (which itself is the perfect Hemingway expression of longing) but to the lines that precede it. "The rhythm of your footsteps crossing flatlands to my door has been silenced forever more," absolutely slays me with how many emotions it manages to evoke.

Magnetic Fields: Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side

Yeah, I know it's the only song most people know from them, but there's a reason for that - it's absolutely perfect. The tone is what wins this one - the narrator is resigned to conditional attention at best, but in his details he draws out a character who cares more about the unnamed lady of his dreams than about his need to be with her. "I know Professor Bloomin makes you feel like a woman, but when the wind is in your hair you laugh like a little girl," is one of the most romantic images I've heard, showing so much while telling so little.

Urinetown: Tell Her I Love Her

A flat-out ridiculous choice, unless you've been moved by the production itself. The song is self-consciously stupid and silly, but it's also a recounting of the dying words of a hero to the girl he barely knew, but died for. The fact that the girl's name is Hope is a pun played off of constantly, but the line "Tell her I'll see her in a better place where Hope is always new," brings me to tears. The concept of heaven as a place where on could lock onto the feeling of first eeting their love, and hold onto that for eternity...

A close runner-up was "We're Not Sorry (Reprise)" which takes two other lovers, twenty years after the fact. "Remember when our nights were starry? / Aren't you sorry? / Sure, I'm sorry / I'm not sorry, just unsound." The same sentiment from the other side. Also note that these aren't the best renditions, unfortunately.

Matthew Sweet: We're the Same

This song just always makes me feel fifteen years old again.

Dar Williams: Iowa (Travelling III)

Another just damn beautiful song that attains transcendence through amazing lyrics. The words move constantly back and forth between elation and bitter heartbreak, but the hopeless romantic rings through: "I fear that to fall in love with you is to fall from a great and gruesome height."

But the best lines in it - the most romantic lines ever put to music as far as I'm concerned, are the same that an ex-girlfriend sang to me as I was boarding the plane to take me off to NY for college: "And so for you I came this far, across the tracks, ten miles above the limit and with no seatbelt, and I'd do it again."

And yet, the most romantic song I've ever heard in my life is...

Catherine Wheel: Black Metallic

It has no right to be - it's just a simple three-chord scong by a scottich alt-rock also-ran from the nineties, but it better captures the simultaneous joy of new love, new sex, new everything than any other song I've heard. This is a love song about someone terrified about how lifechanging they know this will all be, and setting off into uncharted waters with no navigation equipment.

Runners up included "Unchained Melody" and "Feeling Good," but I figured that sort of thing would be covered elsewhere.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:12 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is the dance mix, I prefer the short version, but I am trying to avoid making you watch a clip of OC,

Dice, William Orbit, Finley Quayle, I believe written by Beth Orton
posted by rakish_yet_centered at 9:22 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Finley Quaye
posted by rakish_yet_centered at 9:28 PM on September 10, 2009


Call me surprised this hasn't been mentioned.

The King: Love Me Tender
posted by ambient2 at 9:36 PM on September 10, 2009


Josh Radin's "Today"
"You are the one I've been waiting for today"
A very sweet song...you might have heard it last fall on the Ellen show when she and Portia wed.
"You looked right through me, there was no one else
I sat beside you and became myself...today"
posted by hollygirl at 9:54 PM on September 10, 2009


Oh, hey, I'm not really too late.

Miles Davis and the Cool by the Gaslight Anthem
Big Sky Country by the late great Chris Whitley (or, if you want it spikier and rougher, this version or most of the live ones you can scrounge up)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:12 PM on September 10, 2009


We played Kingdom Come by Coldplay at our wedding. I'm not a huge fan (my wife is) but the song is really, truly loving.

Hurtlin' by American Steel is a fantastic song about trying to get home to your loved one.

You Had Time by Ani Difranco is a powerful song, more towards the end of a relationship, but still quite powerful.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:17 PM on September 10, 2009


All I Know, written by Jimmy Webb, sung by Art Garfunkel.
posted by ragtimepiano at 10:20 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"All I Know"resonates on many levels, speaks to the depth and mystery of a relationship. It's wistful, joyful, and altogether marvelous.
posted by ragtimepiano at 10:23 PM on September 10, 2009


You Can Close Your Eyes by James Taylor---sung here with Carly Simon.
posted by ragtimepiano at 10:30 PM on September 10, 2009


Lucky, by Jason Mraz featuring Colbie Caillat
posted by ragtimepiano at 10:36 PM on September 10, 2009


A Thousand Stars, by Kathy Young---great doo wop, sweet passion from another era.
posted by ragtimepiano at 10:47 PM on September 10, 2009


Magnetic Fields, It's Only Time
posted by dseaton at 10:56 PM on September 10, 2009


R.E.M. - Be Mine

And if you make me your religion
I'll give you all you will need
I'll be the drawing of your breath
I'll be the cup if you should bleed
I'll be the sky above the Ganges
I'll be the vast and stormy sea
I'll be the lights that guide you inland
I'll be the visions you will see
Visions you will see
You will see
You will see
You and me
You and me

posted by slimepuppy at 3:54 AM on September 11, 2009


no children, by the mountain goats
posted by soi-disant at 4:13 AM on September 11, 2009


katy song, by red house painters
posted by soi-disant at 4:21 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Happiness Writes White, by Harvey Danger.
posted by Modus Pwnens at 7:16 AM on September 11, 2009


my favorite memory merle haggard

"the first time we met is a favorite memory of mine"


"we're all the way" clapton.

"there's no cause to think that i won't stay, haven't i been with you all the way".

"don't be actin' half way when you know we're all the way"

great, great songs.
posted by domino at 7:36 AM on September 11, 2009


I've like this one for a long time:

Steve Earle - You Belong to Me
posted by mikewas at 9:23 AM on September 11, 2009


Seconding "She's An Angel".

Also, "Million Bucks" by All. Fast, sloppy, and sweet, just like young love.
posted by scrowdid at 12:52 PM on September 11, 2009


Beatles: All My Loving and If I Fell

Beach Boys, "God Only Knows" -- you kidding me? Clearly it's "Wouldn't It Be Nice"

Ray Charles: "I Can't Stop Loving You"

Aretha Franklin: "I Never Loved A Man"

Temptations: "The Way You Do the Things You Do"

and seconding "I'll Come Running" by Brian Eno
posted by Rash at 1:35 PM on September 11, 2009


Love Minus Zero/No Limit by Dylan is the one that does it for me.

Also:
The Kiss by Judee Sill is close to perfect
Burning With Optimism's Flames by XTC makes me hop around like a fiend.
Fantastic Planet of Love by Marshal Crenshaw still gives me the chills sometimes.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:38 PM on September 11, 2009


Nthing Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and First day of my life by Bright Eyes
posted by sartre08 at 4:09 PM on September 11, 2009


"Dress Sexy at my Funeral" Smog
posted by pianomover at 4:24 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I utterly love the Barenaked Ladies' cover of Lovers In A Dangerous Time (I think Bruce Cockburn's original arrangement sounds a little too 80's-synthy, while BNL has this COMPLETELY gorgeous piano and cello arrangement and gorgeous harmonies).

The story behind the song is lovely in itself -- Bruce Cockburn, from the impression I get from his songs, worried a lot about nuclear war during the 80's (about as much as I did, probably), but his daughters were starting to enter their teens -- and even though they knew just as much about the possibilty of things going "boom" as he did, still did just like every other teenager did and made their tentative, hopeful little steps towards falling in love, and he thought that was just profoundly hopeful that even in the middle of the world showing signs of falling apart, love was still trying to bloom.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


So I made what might be the world's sappiest mix tape recently. The number of songs from the above list that are on there is kind of ridiculous

I would add to what y'all have already listed:
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths
Kathy's Song - Simon and Garfunkel
Just Like Heaven - The Cure
Bob Dylan - Lay Lady Lay
posted by naoko at 10:25 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thinking about this thread all day. A few more alltime faves:

Bobby Darin, If I Were a Carpenter
The Temptations, My Girl
Ramones, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
David Bowie, "Heroes"
Chicago, Just You 'n' Me
Del Amitri, Be My Downfall
Anti-Nowhere League, For You
posted by stargell at 11:16 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Depeche Mode Somebody
posted by doogyrev at 5:00 AM on September 12, 2009


Dark End of the Street. James Carr made it his own but Cat Power put out a fantastic version last year. I think it mighta been a vinyl only release (that's the form I have it in) and goddamn if it doesn't fill a dark room beautifully.

I'll second Dress Sexy at My Funeral by Smog. I also love these love songs by him: Our Anniversary and Left Only With Love.

Bonnie Billy's Lay and Love is also quite wonderful.

Scout Niblett's Kiss also has some terrific lyrics:

Kiss coulda killed me
If it were not for rain
And I have
a feeling it was coming on
And I felt it coming
For so long
If I'm to be the fool
then so it be
This fool can die now
with a heart that soars
high
I had it coming
for so long

(and darling take my hand
and lead me through the dawn
let's kidnap each other
and start singing our song.
'cause my heart is charged now
oh, it's dancing in my chest
and I fly and I walk now
from the spell in that kiss)

(chorus)

(oh darling, let me dream
let me dream
'cause somewhere in me
inside of me
I have been waiting
waiting
so patiently
for you
you you
so don't you
break my dream)

and the rain will exalt us
as the night draws thin
and the rain howls around us
as we begin

what a way to start a fire
fire
what a way to break a day
the kiss coulda killed me
if it were not for rain
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:51 AM on September 12, 2009


From memory lane:
Burning House of Love, X
Case of You, Joni Mitchell
Blue, Joni Mitchell
Got You Under My Skin, Sinatra
Ring of Fire, J. Cash
I'm Your Man, L. Cohen
Wild Horses, the Rolling Stones
Steal Your Love, Lucinda Williams
I Want You, Fiona Apple covering E. Costello
Allison, E. Costello
Dice, Finley Quaye and Beth Orton
Valentine's Day, Bruce Springsteen
Sara, Bob Dylan
Oh Yoko, John Lennon
Frederick, Patti Smith (after the death of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith of the MC5)
posted by thinkpiece at 6:24 PM on September 12, 2009


Gorecki, by Lamb.
Electronica, amazing crescendo. Think of my boyfriend all the time when I hear this. Teared up when it was used as in a montage of photos in someone's wedding. Would love to use it in my own (not yet forthcoming) wedding; the boyfriend can't stand it.
"Wrapped in the warmth of you
Loving every breath of you
Still in my heart this moment
Or it might burst
Could we stay right here
Until the end of time until the earth stops turning
Wanna love you until the seas run dry
Ive found the one Ive waited for"
posted by chronic sublime at 3:58 AM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


+1 Magnetic Fields' Book of Love - check out this guy's acapella proposal. Makes even cynical old me cry like a kitten. Used this song as our first wedding dance, even made the jaded wedding photographer tear up.

+1 Death Cab for Cutie - I Will Follow You into the Dark

Magnetic Fields' All My Little Words is also wonderful. Surprised it hasn't been mentioned already.

EmpressCallipygos: Thanks for a reminder of 'Lovers in a Dangerous Time'. I could set fire to the rest of the BNL discography but that cover is a treasure.
posted by benzenedream at 1:46 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here are a few not yet posted:

Neil Young - Harvest Moon.
Roxy Music - Avalon.
Queen - You Take My Breath Away.
Fleetwood Mac's Songbird.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:05 PM on September 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seconding Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" and adding one that I thought of after I had first responded: Edwin McCain's "I'll Be."
posted by amyms at 5:52 PM on September 13, 2009


Oh, and the Dave Matthews Band's "Crash Into Me."
posted by amyms at 5:56 PM on September 13, 2009


Northern Sky by Nick Drake

also
Stay by U2
Stand By Me by Ben E. King
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 8:14 PM on September 13, 2009


"Thirding" Harvest Moon!
posted by ragtimepiano at 9:31 PM on September 13, 2009


New Partner by Palace Music

OP, looks like AskMe wants you to sit down with your headphones and all 69 Love Songs. If you do, *I* think you should start with Nothing Matters When We're Dancing.
posted by honestamalia at 9:56 PM on September 13, 2009


Dance Me To The End Of Love by Leonard Cohen. The concert version, not the original album recording which is kind of drecky.
posted by susanbeeswax at 10:02 PM on September 13, 2009


"Leavin' on a Jet Plane," Peter Paul and Mary
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:33 AM on September 14, 2009


A really great pop song love song is "When I See That Girl of Mine" by the Kinks off the Kinks Kontroversy album.
posted by kensington314 at 3:35 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another vote for Tom Waits' Johnsburg Illinois, and one for the Drifters' This Magic Moment (this clip isn't the best version, but it's not bad)
posted by pilgrim at 8:09 AM on September 16, 2009


How about "Thirteen" by Big Star?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:51 AM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


No One's Gonna Love You, Band of Horses.
posted by alona at 7:00 PM on September 22, 2009


I Drove All Night by Roy Orbison.
posted by littleflowers at 2:23 PM on September 24, 2009


"I'm Affected" by the Ramones.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:43 PM on September 24, 2009


Tom Waits' I'm Still Here. (apologies for the lame video -- only Youtube link I could find that had an audible recording.) It's totally heartbreaking, but it's one of the best love songs I know.
posted by coppermoss at 8:43 PM on September 26, 2009


Oh, and Being Alive from Stephen Sondheim's musical, Company. Just... yes.
posted by coppermoss at 9:44 PM on September 26, 2009


Zabadak by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, and Tich
(lyrics)

Like a rhythym, like a spell
It sets your soul in motion
Love that's sure could rule the world
A tide to turn an ocean

posted by telstar at 1:47 AM on September 29, 2009


Only You by Yazoo

and

Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac (more of a breakup song, but still).
posted by Ashley801 at 9:29 PM on November 28, 2009


Francis Cabrel's Je t'aimais Je t'aime et Je t'aimerais
posted by dmbfan93 at 1:33 PM on August 19, 2010


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