During my freshman year of high school, I won a girl’s heart by writing her a love song. Her heart was mine for only a day, however. Ratting me out, her brother, supposedly my friend, let her know that my love song had the exact same lyrics as Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration.” My youthful plagiarism aside, I understood the power of a love song.
Having been married for eleven years, not to mention my forty years on this planet, my understanding of that power has deepened. And while my wife and I have wildly different music tastes, we do find common musical ground in a well-crafted love song.
Love songs are, in my opinion, an essential part of life. Well, essential if things like romance, beauty, and emotive sighing matter. And those things matter. Especially on Valentine’s Day. To that end, and to help others find love songs that they and their significant other can share together, I’ve compiled a list of a few love songs that I believe are underappreciated. My list is admittedly incomplete; using the comment section, please help me fill it out by letting me know which love songs you believe are underappreciated.
1.“Life With You” – The Proclaimers
This list isn’t technically ranked in the order of which underappreciated love songs I believe are the best (or most underappreciated), but, if the songs were ranked, this incredibly joyful yet tear-jerker of a love song by The Proclaimers would sit at number one. And that’s not because not doing so would create tension in my marriage (although, let’s be honest, that helps). “Life With You” is not only a song that implores partners to share a dance together; it’s a song that also encourages couples to sweetly ruminate about their time together. And, it’s a great pop song, to boot.
P.S. One of my goals in life is for at least one of my kids to have “Life With You” played at their wedding.
2. “The Wine We Drink” – Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
American crooner Drew Holcomb enlisted the help of his wife, Ellie Holcomb, to sing this sweet, funny, and light-hearted lullaby that is an ode to the couple’s devoted and wonderfully ordinary love. Their devotion extends from “the wine we drink/to the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink” and all points, mundane and romantic, in between. “The Wine We Drink” is a great reminder to enjoy the love of our life at all places and at all times.
3. “When the Vinyl Scrapes” – Drew Gibson
Drew Gibson is an excellent musician, but for me, his storytelling ability is what sets him apart from most other singer-songwriters. At peak storytelling ability, “When the Vinyl Scrapes” is Gibson’s ode to lost love, but not in the tradition of unrequited love. The song reflects on the continued connection between loved ones who are separated through no fault of their own. “When the Vinyl Scrapes” is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming.
4. “Hey Grace, Hey Tony” – Grace & Tony
Your name doesn’t need to be either Grace or Tony in order to appreciate the tenderness that prompted “Hey Grace, Hey Tony.” And it’s a tenderness that pairs well with the optimistic energy of the married duo’s Tennessee bluegrass. I’m not sure (and I’m definitely not staking my reputation on it), but there’s a good chance that at least parts of Grace and Tony White’s wedding vows are weaved throughout their love song to each other. If not, I’m sure that this song will actually be their renewal vows at their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
5. “Coming Home” – Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges could sing the “Public Buildings Reform Act of 2016,” and his rich voice would probably convince you to propose to your girlfriend. Listen to the title track of Coming Home, the Texas crooner’s debut album, and that “probably” from my first sentence will need to be removed. Fair warning—only listen to this song if you’re prepared to buy a diamond ring. If you’re already married, dedicate “Coming Home” to your spouse, but only if you don’t mind an *ahem* gift roughly nine months later.
6. “Picture In a Frame” – Tom Waits
I don’t know if many people think of Tom Waits in reference to romantic songs, but they should. I mean, it should be no surprise that one of our finest troubadours has mastered the love song. Waits’ distinctive growl adds gravitas to the sturdy, committed side of love which is emphasized by the imagery of “Picture In a Frame.” To be honest, the saxophone may very well have propelled “Picture In a Frame” onto this list, with or without the lyrics.
7. “Fists Full of Flowers” – The Sea The Sea
With “Fists Full of Flowers,” Mira Stanley and Chuck Costa of The Sea The Sea have written the love poem that you have been attempting to write for years. The beautiful harmonies of the pair lay bare the arc of love from eternal spring to eternal age.
8. “Mary Ann & One Eyed Dan” – Shovels & Rope
If you and your significant other enjoy a life together that wanders into the interesting, adventurous, or downright weird, “Mary Ann & One Eyed Dan” is a love song for you. Shovels & Rope have composed a wonderfully quirky song about the love between “a waitress at a circus” named Mary Ann, and Dan, a reporter with one eye. Even if you consider your love life boring, everyone can relate to the sentiment, “So long to my former life/to a selfish life, so long.”
9. “All I Want Is You” – U2
Look, I understand that “All I Want Is You” is by far the most appreciated of my underappreciated love songs. But it’s such a beautiful song that almost ten million YouTube views are not nearly enough. Underappreciated, indeed. Besides, when asked to name a U2 love song, very few people pick “All I Want Is You.”
10. “Cover Me Up” – Jason Isbell
Very few artists earn the superlatives heaped on their heads by awed critics; Jason Isbell earns his, though. Besides his prodigious musical talent, his profound courage is on full display in the confessional “Cover Me Up.” Unburdening his weakness in a plea for help from the one he loves, Isbell’s song will prompt your heart to gratefulness for the many loving sacrifices that your loved one pours into your life.