When it comes to the classic rock world, the genre is littered with love songs. In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s show some love to ten love songs that sometimes fly under the radar.
10. Aerosmith – “You See Me Crying”
Aerosmith has recorded a number of power ballads in their illustrious career, but it seems like “You See Me Crying” is always looked over, and that’s a crying shame. The earnest screech in Steven Tyler’s voice coupled with the piano and orchestral accompaniment bring this song, the final track on Toys in the Attic, to an epic close.
9. Heart – “Magic Man”
It’s safe to say that most, if not all, of us have been so enamored with someone, you’re seemingly powerless. No other song best describes that feeling than Heart’s “Magic Man.” The song, itself, was an autobiographical tale of Ann Wilson’s then-relationship with band manager Michael Fisher. Fisher moved to Vancouver in an effort to avoid the Vietnam War draft, and Wilson followed him. Honestly, draft dodging has never had a sexier soundtrack.
8. Led Zeppelin – “I’m Gonna Crawl”
Closing out Led Zeppelin’s final studio album, In Through the Out Door, “I’m Gonna Crawl” contains some of the band’s most intense cries of love. “I don’t have to go by plane. I ain’t gotta go by car. I don’t care just where my darling is. People I just don’t care how far. I’m gonna crawl, I’m gonna crawl.” Oh, wow…Robert Plant had it BAD on this one.
7. Blondie – “The Tide is High”
The reggae instrumental is enough to make your knees weak! Blondie’s cover of The Paragons’ “The Tide is High” is nothing short of sublime, and further proves that in the end, Debbie Harry will always get the guy. Please! She’d never give up just like that. Oh, no!
6. The Ramones – “I Want You Around”
Punks need love, too, and it doesn’t get sweeter than on the Ramones’ “I Want You Around.” This track was featured in the 1979 cult classic Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and while it certainly doesn’t pack the edge of other Ramones songs, it drips with heart and might be one of the most swoon-worthy punk songs ever.
5. David Bowie – “Kooks”
Not all love songs are about romantic love, and in the case of David Bowie’s “Kooks,” they’re about the love a parent has for their child. Bowie wrote “Kooks” for his then newborn son, Duncan, and included it on 1971’s Hunky Dory. Any parent can relate to the lyrics. Well, except for one for me personally: “Don’t pick fights with the bullies or the cads. ‘Cause I’m not much cop at punching other people’s Dads.” I don’t condone violence, per se, but if I had to throw down for my kid, I’d figure it out.
4. Bruce Springsteen – “I’m On Fire”
Some of The Boss’ most popular love songs are his epics, but in just 2:40, “I’m On Fire” cuts right to the chase. The “so sensual it should be a crime” chase. With lyrics like, “Tell me now baby is he good to you? Does he do to you the things that I do,” you want to know what else is on fire? My loins!
3. U2 – “All I Want Is You”
U2’s catalog is full of intense love songs, but few are quite as beautiful as “All I Want Is You.” The track plays over the credits of the 1988 concert film Rattle & Hum and closes out its soundtrack album. It’s stripped, simple lyrics penned by Bono are among his most straight-forward and cut right to the heart of it all. And when all else fails to set a dreamy mood, adding a string arrangement helps put things over the edge. (Pun intended.)
2. Rolling Stones – “Waiting On A Friend”
Remember how not all love songs are about romantic love? The Rolling Stones’ “Waiting On A Friend” might be the greatest example of that. The second single off of 1981’s Tattoo You, the lyrics for “Waiting On A Friend” were penned by Mick Jagger about the friendships within the Stones.
“Don’t need a whore, don’t need no booze. Don’t need a virgin priest, but I need someone I can cry to. I need someone to protect.”
If you’re lucky, you’ve got a friend that fits these lyrics, and you know full well that that friendship is one of the greatest loves of your life.
1. Elton John – “I Want Love”
Over their 50 year partnership, Elton John and Bernie Taupin have written some of the most beautiful love songs of all time. Out of all of them, “I Want Love” might be the most stripped and raw of them all.
Off of 2001’s Songs from the West Coast, “I Want Love” paints a picture of love’s reality. By the time a lot of us find real love, we’ve been through the wringer thanks to previous relationships. That is definitely present in Taupin’s lyrics particularly on the bridge:
“So bring it on, I’ve been bruised. Don’t give me love that’s clean and smooth. I’m ready for the rougher stuff. No sweet romance, I’ve had enough.”
Real love isn’t always perfect. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. But when you have it, it’s just simply the best thing ever.