Our duet, “Forever and Always,” is a sweet and simple love song about dedication and commitment. It’s devoid of any cynicism or irony and there are no strings attached. Hence the (Just) Love Songs distinction. While we all know that the reality of love is filled with shadows, I think it’s OK to occasionally revel in the parts of life that still resemble the bright fantasy — and to take a walk in the sun. — Sam Outlaw & Sarah Darling
The Everly Brothers – “Devoted to You”
This is the song my wife and I chose to play for our wedding ceremony when she walked down the aisle. From the opening chimes of the electric guitar to the unflinching Disney-esque lyrics, this is one of the sweetest love songs I’ve ever heard. And while the singer seems to be promising a perfect world that is completely at odds with the harsher realities of love, the sentiment is pure and the delivery is flawless.
Gerry Rafferty – “Right Down the Line”
This is the song I most associate with my relationship with my wife and also a song that we included in our wedding ceremony. You could call it “our” song. The laid-back instrumentation and the humility of the lyrics best describe how I feel about my love for Andie. “The brightest light that shines. It’s been you, woman. Right down the line.” Damn, Gerry.
Don Williams – “We’ve Got a Good Fire Goin’”
I love adult contemporary and easy listening, and this song quadruples down on everything I love about it. And while one could argue the dangers of objectifying one’s partner I think the writer is simply making associations between his beloved and the elements that bring him the most peace. Fire in the fireplace and rain falling outside. Coffee in the cup. All is well. And please God why can’t I have just one billionth of the vocal charm present in every syllable of a Don Williams song?? PLEASE GIVE ME HIS VOICE LIKE IN THE LITTLE MERMAID. Ugh.
John Berry – “She’s Taken a Shine”
Not sure a song like this would even be ‘allowed’ in our present culture. The subject is a stereotype of a woman who is essentially being “saved” by a man. To put it bluntly — she’s finally getting laid and it’s completely changed her whole vibe and everyone’s noticing it. But what a great pop song. And while it might not have hit as big as some of the other country hits from the ‘90s I doubt you can find me a sweeter chorus. John Berry’s voice makes you absolutely believe every word of the story and if you love a good bridge as much as I do look no further.
Dolly Parton – “Think About Love”
Dolly. Is. The. Absolute. Ultimate. And EIGHTIES Dolly is one of her best eras. She coolly pivots to full blown Pop Star and Movie Star in the ‘80s and has a bunch of hits while other “traditional” country singers were getting lost to the discount cassette bin. I love every gated snare crack and every goofy synth punch in the production and I love the grandiose bridge. Repeat after me: We don’t deserve Dolly. We don’t deserve Dolly.
Randy Travis – “Deeper than the Holler”
George Jones said his favorite singer is Randy Travis. So combine one of the best voices of all time (across any genre) with a song that is so catchy you could tow a small planet on the hook and you end up with “Deeper than the Holler.” But what exactly is a “Holler”? Well I can tell you it DOESN’T MATTER when the song is this good. Again, we’re not talking about “real life” love here with all its heartaches and rough edges and nuance. We’re talking about good-ole-boy lovey dovey ooshy gushy love love love love. Fuck yeah.
Vince Gill – “Whenever You Come Around”
Vince famously wrote this song for his wife, Amy Grant, but he wrote it before they got married at a time when he couldn’t just come right out and tell her of his love. One time my wife and I had the pleasure of seeing the Western Swing band The Time Jumpers play a rare ‘on tour’ show in San Diego. Vince, who is a member of the band, opened the show with a solo acoustic set and when he played this song there was not a dry eye in the room. In fact I’m pretty sure I just cried his entire set so. Lastly — the BEE GEE VEES in this production are the gold standard of ‘90s smooth and Vince’s guitar solo is expert level.
Handing it off to Sarah…
Alison Krauss – “When You Say Nothing at All”
Not only is this song featured in my favorite movie Notting Hill, but it’s simply just so beautiful. When you are with your mirror soul, you don’t have to say anything. They already know what your heart is thinking and that’s true love. It’s also one of my favorite cover songs to play live.
George Strait – “I Cross My Heart”
There’s a theme of me loving songs from movies on this list! I first heard this track in Pure Country and absolutely was head over. That moment in the movie when George’s character Dusty goes after his girl at the end while being serenaded by this beautiful one made all us country girls swoon.
Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World”
I literally cry every time I hear this track. It’s probably in my top five songs I love of all time. Isn’t it true how love makes you feel? Music and everything around you seems to have a different glow. I believe Louis when he’s saying these sweet words. Also, audio/visually, it’s stunning to hear the imagery. I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
Michael Bublé – “Home”
This one made my list because it tugs the heartstrings. As a traveling musician, I get homesick often and find myself daydreaming about sitting on my front porch with my husband and looking at the sunset. I have the most panoramic view of the Tennessee sky. Home is where the heart is.
Lady Antebellum – “Need You Now”
This is my favorite slightly scandalous love song. I like it because we’ve all been there. We’ve had that person we know we shouldn’t call but we need to have that fix. Love can make you think you’ve completely lost your mind and do crazy things.
Willie Nelson – “Always on My Mind
Isn’t it true that there’s always that person you can’t ever shake or get out of your mind? I feel like this song allows us to know we aren’t alone. Maybe the timing wasn’t right or simply not meant to be, but you learned something from each other. Some people stick forever and they become part of us.
Photo credit: Sean McGee