Songs for healthy relationships
May 22, 2016 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Searching for examples of songs that are romantic but not about breakups, not full of co-dependent sentimentality, and nonreligious.

My lovely partner and I are listening to some tunes as we clean out our apartment today and started thinking about romantic songs that express healthy relationships. No post-breakup songs, no "I can't live without you" songs, no "I need you desperately" songs, no "god gave you to me" songs. Just good, healthy, "I love you and it's awesome" songs. We're not coming up with much (perhaps our current playlists are overly cynical), so we're turning to the hivemind for help. What are your faves?
posted by phoenix_rising to Grab Bag (71 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
I love "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton.
posted by maxg94 at 11:15 AM on May 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Head over Feet by Alanis.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:16 AM on May 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

Buck by Nina Simone.
posted by tomboko at 11:18 AM on May 22, 2016

The Wannadies You And Me Song
posted by billiebee at 11:19 AM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'll Cover You from Rent.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:25 AM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I love "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton.

That was the first song that came to my mind.

Nigh on fifteen years ago, I saw Afroman (of "Because I Got High" fame) in concert, and he performed a parody of "Wonderful Tonight" that was sexually explicit to the point of utter obscenity, and yet somehow every bit as loving and sincerely appreciative as the original.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:25 AM on May 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Feist's "Mushaboom"
posted by HoteDoge at 11:29 AM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sara McLachlan, Ice Cream. Before they split up, sometimes in concert she'd sing it on her husband's (Ashwin Sood, her drummer) lap.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:34 AM on May 22, 2016

Lots and lots of John Prine songs
posted by sallybrown at 11:35 AM on May 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

Crazy, Where are you Going? and Old Dirt Hill by Dave Matthews Band.

They have more songs that fit your criteria, but those are the three that stand out in my mind lyrically.
posted by guster4lovers at 11:42 AM on May 22, 2016

"Who Woulda Thunk It?" by Greg Brown is one of my favorite songs about a long-term relationship.
posted by Lexica at 11:46 AM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

True Blue by Madonna, my favorite love song.
posted by just asking at 11:52 AM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Still Into You - Paramore
Pure - Lightning Seeds
posted by SisterHavana at 11:55 AM on May 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

James - The Shining
Cowboy Junkies - Lost my Driving Wheel
R.E.M. - At My Most Beautiful
posted by gauche at 11:57 AM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

John Doe - Don't Forget How Much I Love You

John Prine (aforementioned) - I Want To Be With You Always

And oh man, how could I almost forget - Townes Van Zandt - Lover's Lullaby and She Came and She Touched Me.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:00 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Weakerthans have some tracks fitting this bill... The Reasons, My Favourite Chords come to mind. Probably some others.
posted by axiom at 12:07 PM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

darius rucker, alright
posted by carlypennylane at 12:14 PM on May 22, 2016

Dude! Fun, The Gambler!
posted by ftm at 12:17 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Joe Cocker - You Are So Beautiful
Joe Cocker - Up Where We Belong
Dave Alvin - Dirty Nightgown
posted by biogeo at 12:17 PM on May 22, 2016

Also, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, This Is Us.
posted by ftm at 12:18 PM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Perhaps not the direction you were thinking, but Tom Minchin's If I Didn't Have You

Which is a pretty unromantic song, but does have the lyrics:

love is nothing to do with destined perfection
The connection is strengthened, the affection simply grows over time
posted by Cozybee at 12:29 PM on May 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

Common's "The Light"
posted by salvia at 12:43 PM on May 22, 2016

5 Years Time - Noah and the Whale
posted by Redstart at 12:44 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Let's Get Married - Al Green
Asleep on a Sunbeam - Belle & Sebastian
Sea of Love - Cat Power
Home - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes
Better Together - Jack Johnson
Banana Pancakes - Jack Johnson
Do You Remember - Jack Johnson
If I Were a Carpenter - Cash & Carter
Hallelujah I Love Her So - Ray Charles
The Way We Get By - Spoon
Into the Mystic - Van Morrison
Maybe I'm Amazed - Wings/Paul McCartney
Tell Me Something Good - Rufus & Chaka Khan
You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly - Loretta Lynn
Naive Melody - Talking Heads
Just My Kind - The Julie Ruin
posted by melissasaurus at 12:44 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Re Cozybee -- Funny thing, Tim Minchin's song is the only one I immediately recognized! Gotta love his brutal honesty.

Thanks everyone for the great suggestions!
posted by phoenix_rising at 12:48 PM on May 22, 2016

Tobias Jesso Jr's True Love is hands down the best, simplest, and most real love song I've heard in all my years.
posted by cocoagirl at 12:49 PM on May 22, 2016

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes - Home
Meiko - How Lucky We Are
The Beatles - In My Life
posted by eponym at 12:52 PM on May 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Cowboy Junkies - Anniversary Song
Split Enz - Message to my Girl
Aztec Camera - Deep & Wide & Tall
posted by dotgirl at 1:13 PM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Way You Look Tonight - Frank Sinatra
posted by Room 641-A at 1:24 PM on May 22, 2016

Somersault by Zero 7. Hopefully not too sappy.
posted by delight at 1:26 PM on May 22, 2016

I've plugged them before, but Yo La Tengo is my favorite example - their love songs are tender and genuine without feeling sappy. Recommended: "Is That Enough," "Our Way to Fall," "Autumn Sweater." Band founders Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan are long-married and clearly, if in an understated way, still in love with each other.
posted by Otter_Handler at 1:37 PM on May 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Jason Mraz - I Won't Give Up
The Weavers - Kisses Sweeter than Wine (there are many other versions of this as well - I doubt The Weavers' is the first; it's just the one I heard first)
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 1:47 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

perhaps our current playlists are overly cynical

Then you might get a special kick out of following the career of Jonathan Richman.

He's best known for his band the Modern Lovers, who are best known for their performance of his ecstatically proto-punk 'Roadrunner', which is best known for its gorgeously faux-fucked-up cover by the Sex Pistols. The Modern Lovers' romantic songs are hilariously dysfunctional e.g. 'Hospital', 'She Cracked', etc.

But then ... some mysterious alchemy happened. (See 'Monologue about Bermuda' for one account.) And so now he writes droll, charming songs in which, for example, his wife has a new hobby that makes her really happy, but keeps her really busy, but he still seems really happy for her:

'I don't see her much since she started with horses'.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:54 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

My wedding playlist has basically exactly this as a theme (well, maybe a little more WOW I LOVE YOU and a little less "every day with you is great" but nothing too "I would be a withered shell without you" or worse "I am all alone") . All these upbeat enough to clean/dance to, range of genres. But an overall recommendation that you might cruise Spotify for wedding playlists?

Beach Boys, Good Vibrations
Pixies, La La Love you
Queen, You're My Best Friend
Andrews Sisters, Bei Mir Bist du Schoen
The Muppets, Life's a Happy Song
Aretha Franklin, I Say a Little Prayer for You
Hot Chocolate, You Sexy Thing
The Troggs, With a Girl Like You
Orleans, Still the One

OK, I mean, you get the idea. Best of my love? Love the one you're with? Take me home tonight? You make my dreams come true?
posted by athirstforsalt at 1:55 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Beyoncé 'Countdown'
posted by dumdidumdum at 1:56 PM on May 22, 2016

PS I love this thread. Now listening to Ain't That a Kick in the Head and loving' love.
posted by athirstforsalt at 2:08 PM on May 22, 2016

More Jonathan Richman:

-parenting is great but hey let's just the two of us go on a sudden romantic getaway trip. 'Reno'.

-the words 'wife' and 'marriage' don't adequately describe their relationship, but avoid unfortunate consequences in everyday conversation. 'When I Say Wife'

-his wife wore a little black designer dress the first time he saw her, but then the second time she was wearing sloppy casual clothing, and he still falls for her even harder in such outfits. 'Everyday Clothes'.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:11 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of the many reasons why I love Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes is because of a single lyric somewhere in the second verse:

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

It's not "everything is perfect and our life is a bed of roses because we are together". It acknowledges that even when you are in love, life itself can sometimes be really fucking hard - you still have to go to work and take care of the house and make money and get dinner and all that bullshit all the time, and sometimes people are jerks and it makes you mad and all that. And the point of love isn't to save you from all that anyway - the point of love is that you have someone to support you while you're dealing with that, and to team up with you to fight that.

Ingrid Michaelson's The Way I Am is also really cute, and mixes the big "I'll catch you if you are falling" kind of sentiments with smaller, simpler ones ("If you are chilly, here, take my sweater" or "I'll buy you Rogaine if you start losing hair").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:41 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Gosh, I think a lot of Jack Johnson (Better Together, esp) and Dave Matthews would qualify. We had We Are Going To Be Friends on our playlist for our wedding reception (White Stripes). On my phone, MeMail me is you want specifics for DMB.
posted by jrobin276 at 2:47 PM on May 22, 2016

Therapy - Loose
Bill Withers - Lovely Day
Grinderman - Palaces of Montezuma
Pogues - Rainy Night in Soho
Polly Harvey - Good Fortune
Dolly Parton - Islands in the Stream
Streets - Wouldn't have it any other way
Nina Simone - My Baby Just Cares for Me
posted by runincircles at 3:01 PM on May 22, 2016

Not Given Lightly by Chris Knox.

Moondance by Van Morrison and Avalon both have always struck me as happy, stable couple songs.
posted by Candleman at 3:01 PM on May 22, 2016

Thank You - Led Zeppelin
As Long As I Have You - The Detroit Cobras
Till the Wheels Fall Off - L7
Stevie Wonder - For Once In My Life
Ain't No Mountain - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
Let's Stay Together - Al Green
Got To Be Real - Cheryl Lynn
Lovely Day - Bill Withers
posted by Room 641-A at 3:05 PM on May 22, 2016

Yeah, seconding atasteforsalt: great question, great answers. Sorting out rocknroll from this angle feels weirdly illuminating. Why aren't there more songs that meet your specs? What sort of work have people had to do to create them?

Songs about couples from a third-person standpoint:
Velvet Underground: Sweet Jane.
Talking Heads: Found a Job.
The Replacements: Androgynous.

Songs that are about healthy relationships, and are romantic, but not necessarily about romantic relationships.
Sleater-Kinney: A New Wave.
Songs in this group might especially be songs about being in bands.
posted by feral_goldfish at 3:10 PM on May 22, 2016

I don't know what's overly sentimental, .. Fred Astaire's The Way You Look Tonight?
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:21 PM on May 22, 2016

The Magnetic Fields--Asleep and Dreaming and The Book of Love (there's also a Peter Gabriel cover of the latter)
posted by Krom Tatman at 5:41 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

For cozy times: Blossom Dearie - I'm in Love Again

For happy times: Travis - Flowers in the Window (great song, weird video)
posted by dorkydancer at 5:44 PM on May 22, 2016

Power of Two
posted by dmd at 5:58 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Weezer, My Best Friend
Postal Service, Such Great Heights, and as covered by Iron and Wine
posted by jeoc at 6:15 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Arthur Russell, That's Us/Wild Combination
Bill Callahan, Small Plane
posted by Mender at 7:52 PM on May 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

"I Saw the Light" Todd Rundgren
"Bliss" Alice Peacock
posted by zorseshoes at 8:57 PM on May 22, 2016

Nobody does this better than Michael Franti:

Shake It

Life Is Better With You

Say Hey
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:57 PM on May 22, 2016

Greetings to the New Brunette - Billy Bragg
posted by h00py at 4:03 AM on May 23, 2016

Great question!

Greg Brown's Lullaby is not really about feeling sleepy.
posted by Frenchy67 at 5:57 AM on May 23, 2016

I got Devendra Banhart's "Won't You Come Over" from a similar MeFi thread and it's one of my faves for this purpose.

Hey Marseilles, "Cafe Lights"
The Zombies, "This Will Be Our Year"
Kate Miller-Heidke, "Space They Cannot Touch"
Banks, "Warm Water"
posted by babelfish at 6:00 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Littlest Birds by the Be Good Tanyas
That's My Weakness Now
When My Boy Walks Down The Street by The Magnetic Fields. (This is from the album "69 Love Songs," which has a lot of songs that would fit the bill -- although it also has a lot of songs about unhappy and/or unhealthy relationships, so you'd have to do some filtering before adding it to your playlist.
When I'm 64, by the Beatles. (Come to think of it, the Beatles probably have more songs that fit this category than most rock bands. Among many others, there's also Ob-La-Di-La-Da and Martha, My Dear.)
They All Laughed, by George & Ira Gershwin, with special bonus awesome dancing by Astaire & Rogers.
posted by yankeefog at 6:10 AM on May 23, 2016

Good Day Sunshine - The Beatles
posted by SemiSalt at 7:26 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

No Johnny Cash yet?
I Walk The Line surely fits the bill, and maybe Darlin' Companion.
posted by Kreiger at 7:28 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Phoenix — "Long Distance Call"
Jens Lekman — "Your Arms Around Me"
Alexi Murdoch — "All My Days"
Neutral Milk Hotel — "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea"
Justin Timberlake — "Mirrors"
posted by a good beginning at 9:21 AM on May 23, 2016

Remember When - Allen Jackson
Thinking out Loud- Ed Sheeran
How Sweet it is - James Taylor
Something in the Way She Moves- James Taylor
You and I- The Copyrights
Stay Stay Stay- Taylor Swift
Danny's Song - Loggins and Messina
posted by Wildflowers at 10:15 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Mountain Goats, Twin Human Highway Flares
posted by come_back_breathing at 11:13 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

this is what love is for—
to be out of place,
gorgeous and alone,
face to face,

with no larger problems
that need to be erased—

nothing more important
than to know / someone's
listening / now I know
you'll be listening

"Impossible Germany," by Wilco
posted by a good beginning at 2:44 PM on May 23, 2016

Beautiful South - Prettiest Eyes
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:52 PM on May 23, 2016

Danny's Song - Loggins and Messina
posted by Wildflowers at 12:15 PM on May 23

This song is about a newborn baby.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:28 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

You're The One I Want from Grease.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:00 PM on May 28, 2016

Stan Rogers - 45 Years.
posted by clawsoon at 4:27 PM on May 29, 2016

The old Tin Pan Alley standard Side By Side. Lots and lots of versions. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Ray Charles and Betty Carter. Sharon, Lois and Bram. Anita O'Day and Gene Krupa. Pat and Shirley Boone. Etc...
posted by clawsoon at 4:50 PM on May 29, 2016

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