Love songs have been around ever since people starting writing songs. After all, it’s a universal subject. But to make our list of the Top 10 Love Songs, cuts had to, well, cut deep into our hearts, saying things that might be a bit difficult to put into our own words (and you don’t even want to hear the melodies we’d attach those words to). And it just so happens that some of our all-time favorite artists are behind these eternal love songs. So cuddle up next to your sweetie and check it out.
From: ‘A Night at the Opera’ (1975)
Queen bassist John Deacon wrote "You’re My Best Friend" for his wife, and its heartfelt message of love makes it one of the band’s most enduring, and universal, songs. It’s also one of the most straightforward songs in the group’s catalog, featuring a winning vocal by Freddie Mercury and a bouncy Wurlitzer (played by Deacon) driving the melody. It followed "Bohemian Rhapsody" into the Top 20.
From: ‘Rumours’ (1977)
Fleetwood Mac‘s monumental Rumours album was brimming with relationship problems. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were ending theirs, and the marriage between John and Christine McVie was also on the rocks. It all made for one of the greatest breakup albums ever created. But there was some hope in Christine’s "You Make Loving Fun," written about her affair with the band’s lighting director. John probably loved playing this one night after night.
From: ‘The Stranger’ (1977)
Billy Joel wrote "Just the Way You Are" for his wife, who was also his manager at the time. After they divorced, he resisted playing the song in concert and insisted he never really liked it. Hard to believe, since it helped break Joel commercially after he spent the first two-thirds of the ’70s struggling as both a live performer and a recording artist. It ended up as one of the decade’s quintessential love songs.
From: ‘So’ (1986)
Even before John Cusack lifted that boombox over his head in Say Anything…, Peter Gabriel‘s "In Your Eyes" was a pretty great love song. On an album filled with sweeping, timeless tracks, So‘s original Side Two opener stands out for a number of reasons. It features one of Gabriel’s best-ever vocals, for starters, and its hook builds over a graceful five-and-a-half minutes. Plus, Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour provides some soaring relief on the chorus. One of the ’80s’ best love songs.
From: ‘Led Zeppelin II’ (1969)
The mere thought of a love song written by the guys who delivered the hammer of the gods to hundreds of groupies sounds ludicrous. But there, buried on Led Zeppelin‘s great second album, is Robert Plant‘s lovely valentine to his wife. "If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you / When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me." That’s pretty heavy stuff, even if it’s not quite as epic as the Tolkien fantasy worlds he often got lost in.
From: ‘Sticky Fingers’ (1971)
Even though it didn’t crack the Top 25 as a single, "Wild Horses" remains one of the Rolling Stones‘ most popular songs. It’s certainly one of their greatest love songs, a mournful country-influenced number penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The song showed up on the Stones’ 1971 album Sticky Fingers, but it wasn’t the first version released. Richards’ pal Gram Parsons covered the song on the Flying Burrito Brothers‘ second album a year earlier. It’s pretty good too.
From: ‘McCartney’ (1970)
Paul McCartney‘s debut solo album from 1970 is filled with weird, fractured moments. Recorded while the Beatles were still a band, McCartney plays more like a set of skeletal frames and early-stage song ideas than a collection of real tunes. The exception is this terrific ballad, which McCartney wrote for his wife Linda. Six years after its release, the song was issued as a single in a live version from the album Wings Over America, becoming a Top 10 hit. One of McCartney’s greatest (and least silly) love songs.
From: ‘Pet Sounds’ (1966)
Brian Wilson‘s greatest ballad anchors Pet Sounds, the Beach Boys album that helped set the stage for both their creative rebirth and Wilson’s descent into madness. It’s a glorious love song that cascades over one of the most gorgeous melodies ever written. No wonder so many artists have covered "God Only Knows" over the years. It’s one of the 20th century’s most remarkable musical achievements.
From: ‘Elton John’ (1970)
Even with a few lyrical bumps ("If I was a sculptor, but then again, no …" — um, no), "Your Song" is one of the purest expressions of love ever committed to song. Reportedly, Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the song in less than 30 minutes, but its timeless appeal makes it one of the era’s most enduring hits. It also became the first of John’s long string of Top 10 singles.
From: ‘Abbey Road’ (1969)
The Beatles’ greatest love song, and one of their all-time best, "Something" wasn’t even written by the two guys responsible for most of their hits. George Harrison was inspired by fellow Apple Records’ artist James Taylor‘s "Something in the Way She Moves," which gave the Beatles’ song its opening line. Harrison claimed the song wasn’t written for his wife at the time, remaining cagey about its subject throughout his life. Whomever it’s about, "Something" remains one of the greatest declarations of love ever written, and one of the most covered love songs of the past 50 years.