Part of the magic of music is its ability to evoke feelings - happiness, sadness, laughter, tears, fears, and, of course, love. Valentine's Day is our annual opportunity to publicly celebrate that most complex of emotions. Classic rock may not have written the book on the subject, but virtually every style it encompasses (even heavy metal and punk) is rich in songs about love.
To be sure, classic rock had more than its share of hard driving, eardrum busting songs about illegal substances and graphic depictions of escapades of a sexual nature. So much so, it's easy to forget that the genre also produced some heartfelt love songs, perfect for Valentine's Day.
Please accept, in the spirit of the celebration (and in alphabetical order) a bouquet of 19 of classic rock's best love songs.
"Angel" - Aerosmith
I want your love, let’s break the wall between us.
Don’t make it tough, I’ll put away my pride,
Enough’s enough, I’ve suffered and I’ve seen the light.
Even hard rockers like Aerosmith have their tender moments. Lead vocalist Steven Tyler collaborated with songwriter Desmond Child on this power ballad about a man who is still hung up on his ex.
From the 1987 album Permanent Vacation, available on CD, LP, MP3
"From The Beginning" - Emerson Lake and Palmer
Perhaps there's a thing or two I think of, lying in bed,
I shouldn't have said.
But, there it is.
You see, it's all clear,
You were meant to be here, from the beginning
Album oriented progressive rockers Emerson Lake and Palmer scored their highest charting single with Greg Lake's song reflecting on what might have been.
From the 1972 album Trilogy, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio casette
"I Want To Know What Love Is" - Foreigner
When hard rockers Foreigner included the love ballad "I Want To Know What Love Is" on the 1984 Agent Provocateur album, they obviously struck a chord (yes, the pun is intended) with their fans, who quickly made it #1 in the US and UK. It is arguably the song for which the band is best known. Written by Foreigner co-founder Mick Jones, the song features backup vocals by gospel group New Jersey Mass Choir, actress-singer Jennifer Holliday, and pop duo Thompson Twins.
From the 1984 album Agent Provocateur, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette
"Lady" - Styx
You're my lady of the morning,
Love shines in your eyes,
Sparkling clear and lovely,
You're my lady.
Styx co-founder, keyboardist Dennis DeYoung wrote this song for his wife. The use of an acoustic piano was a last minute switch from synthesizer after DeYoung tried out the paino that was in the studio where the band recorded the song.
From the 1973 album Styx II, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette
"Layla" - Derek and the Dominos
I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.
Eric Clapton wrote one of the most famous classic rock love songs for Patti Boyd, who at the time was married to Clapton's pal, George Harrison. It was the title song of one of the three albums Clapton recorded as Derek and the Dominoes. The song title was inspired by a 12th century poem about a woman (named Layla) and her unrequited love.
From the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette
"Love Of My Life" - Queen
Freddy Mercury was inspired to write "Love Of My Life" by his relationship with longtime companion, Mary Austin. Released in 1975 on A Night At The Opera, the song became so popular that when Queen performed in concert, Mercury often stayed silent while the audience sang. It was generally performed acoustically in concert, with Brian May accompanying Mercury (and the audience) on 12-string guitar. The song, with an almost operatic quality, showcased Mercury's amazing vocal range.
From the 1975 album A Night At The Opera, available on CD, LP, MP3, DVD audio, audio cassette
"Love Will Keep Us Alive" - Eagles
One of two Top 40 singles from Eagles' 1994 live album, Hell Freezes Over, "Love Will Keep Us Alive" was the only song on the album that wasn't written or co-written by members of the band. Traffic co-founder Jim Capaldi co-wrote the ballad. Bassist Timothy B. Schmit provided lead vocals.
From the 1994 album, Hell Freezes Over. available on CD, LP, audio cassette
"Maybe I'm Amazed" - Paul McCartney
Maybe I'm amazed at the way you help me sing my song,
You right me when I'm wrong.
Maybe I'm amazed at the way I really need you.
Paul McCartney's first solo album after the breakup of The Beatles was a tribute to his wife, Linda. At a 2009 news conference, McCartney named this the song he would most like to be remembered for.
From the 1970 album McCartney, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette
"Nights In White Satin" - Moody Blues
Nights in white satin, never reaching the end.
Letters I've written, never meaning to send.
Beauty I'd always missed with these eyes before.
Just what the truth is, I can't say anymore.
Justin Hayward was just 19 when he wrote this sad but powerful love song. Not only has it been a hit with Moody Blues fans for nearly 45 years, it has been covered by at least 55 other artists since its original release.
From the 1967 album Days of Future Passed, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette
"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" - Starship
Let 'em say we're crazy, I don't care about that.
Put your hand in my hand, baby, don't ever look back.
Let the world around us just fall apart.
Baby, we can make it if we're heart to heart.
The third incarnation of Jefferson Airplane / Jefferson Starship / Starship recorded the theme song for the movie, Mannequin and scored a #1 hit in the process. It appeared on the last Starship album that featured Grace Slick on lead vocals. Co-writers Albert Hammond and Diane Warren based the song on an experience from Hammond's life, marrying his longtime girlfriend after a lengthy divorce from his first wife.
From the 1987 album No Protection, available on CD, MP3