19 Classic Rock Love Songs for Valentine's Day

Make a perfect playlist for your classic rock lovin' lover

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. 

To be sure, classic rock had more than its share of hard driving, eardrum busting songs about illegal substances and graphic depictions of sexual escapades. So much so, it's easy to forget that the genre also produced many heartfelt love songs, perfect for Valentine's Day.

Here's a bouquet of our 19 favorite classic rock love songs.

01
of 19

"Angel" - Aerosmith

Geffen Records

I want your love, let’s break the wall between us.

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.

Watch the "Angel" music video

From the 1987 album Permanent Vacation, available on CD, LP, MP3

02
of 19

"From The Beginning" - Emerson Lake and Palmer

Shout! Factory

You were meant to be here, from the beginning

Progressive rockers, Emerson Lake and Palmer, scored their highest charting single with Greg Lake's song reflecting on what might have been.

Watch a live performance of "In The Beginning" by Emerson Lake and Palmer

From the 1972 album Trilogy, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

03
of 19

"I Want To Know What Love Is" - Foreigner

foreigner_agent.jpg
Atlantic Records

Let's talk about love, I want to know what love is

When Foreigner included the love ballad "I Want To Know What Love Is" on the 1984 Agent Provocateur album, they obviously struck a chord (yes, pun intended). Their fans 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.

Watch a live Foreigner performance of "I Want To Know What Love Is"

From the 1984 album Agent Provocateur, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

 

04
of 19

"Lady" - Styx

styxII.jpg
RCA

Love shines in your eyes, sparkling clear and lovely

Styx co-founder and keyboardist, Dennis DeYoung, wrote this song for his wife. The use of an acoustic piano was a last minute switch from a synthesizer after DeYoung tried out the piano in the studio where the band recorded the song. 

Watch a live Styx performance of "Lady" with Dennis DeYoung

From the 1973 album Styx II, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

05
of 19

"Layla" - Derek and the Dominos

Universal Motown Records Group

Like a fool, I fell in love with you

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. 

Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page perform "Layla" live in 1983

From the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

06
of 19

"Love Of My Life" - Queen

queennight.jpg
Fontana Hollywood

Love of my life can't you see,
Bring it back, bring it back

Inspired by his relationship with longtime companion, Mary Austin, Freddy Mercury wrote "Love Of My Life." The song became so popular that when Queen performed it in concert, Mercury often stayed silent while the audience sang. The song, with an almost operatic quality, showcased Mercury's amazing vocal range.

Watch Queen perform "Love of My Life" live in 1986

From the 1975 album A Night At The Opera, available on CD, LP, MP3, DVD audio, audio cassette

 

07
of 19

"Love Will Keep Us Alive" - Eagles

eagles_hell.jpg
Geffen Records

When we're hungry, love will keep us alive

In their 1994 live album, Hell Freezes Over, "Love Will Keep Us Alive" was the only song that wasn't written by members of Eagles. Traffic co-founder, Jim Capaldi, co-wrote the ballad. Bassist Timothy B. Schmit provided lead vocals.

Watch an Eagles performance of "Love Will Keep Us Alive"

From the 1994 album, Hell Freezes Over. available on CD, LP, audio cassette

08
of 19

"Maybe I'm Amazed" - Paul McCartney

Capitol Records

Maybe I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time

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. 

Watch the music video of Paul MacCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed"

From the 1970 album McCartney, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

09
of 19

"Nights In White Satin" - Moody Blues

Polydor Records

Nights in white satin, never reaching the end.
Letters I've written, never meaning to send.

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 artists since its original release. 

Watch a 1967 promotional video that accompanied the release of "Nights In White Satin"

From the 1967 album Days of Future Passed, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

10
of 19

"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" - Starship

RCA Records

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 this classic rock love song on Hammond's experience marrying his longtime girlfriend after a lengthy divorce from his first wife.

Watch the Starship music video of "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"

From the 1987 album No Protection, available on CD, MP3

11
of 19

"Our House" - Crosby Stills & Nash

Atlantic / WEA

Life used to be so hard,
Now everything is easy,
Because of you.

Graham Nash wrote this idyllic song for Crosby Stills & Nash at the time he and Joni Mitchell were living together in a cottage in Laurel Canyon, the storied Los Angeles enclave of late '60s musicians. It was also the house in which Nash, David Crosby and Stephen Stills first sang together.

Watch a 1974 Crosby Stills Nash & Young performance of "Our House"

From the 1970 album Deja Vu, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

12
of 19

"Something" - George Harrison

You're asking me will my love grow
I don't know, I don't know 

Paul McCartney and John Lennon deemed this one of the best songs George Harrison wrote and among the best that The Beatles recorded. A high praise indeed. 

Watch George Harrison's performance of "Something" at his 1971 Concert for Bangladesh

From the 1969 album, Abbey Roadavailable on CD, LP, audio cassette

13
of 19

"Waiting For A Girl Like You" - Foreigner

Atlantic / WEA

I've been waiting for a girl like you, your loving will survive.

Well-established as a hard rock outfit, Foreigner released this soft rock love song in 1981, giving the band new exposure to Top 40 and Adult Contemporary audiences. It has since become one of the band's most well-known songs. 

Watch a live Foreigner performance of "Waiting For A Girl Like You" 

From the 1981 album 4, available on CD, LP, MP3, DVD audio, audio cassette

14
of 19

"Wild Horses" - The Rolling Stones

stones_sticky.jpg
UMe

Wild horses couldn't drag me away

 "Wild Horses" was anything but a typical Rolling Stones song. Released on Sticky Fingers in 1971, it was a slow, acoustic love ballad. The song was written by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Gram Parsons .

Watch The Rolling Stones perform "Wild Horses in 1995

From the 1971 album Sticky Fingers, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

15
of 19

"Wonderful Tonight" - Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Universal Motown Records Group

And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don't realize
How much I love you

Yes, the same artist who delivered us "Cocaine" also gave us (on the same album) a touching love song about his wife, Pattie Boyd (who was also once the wife of his good friend George Harrison.) Eric Clapton wrote the song for Slowhand, released in 1977, but it would be another 14 years before "Wonderful Tonight" was released as a single.

Watch Eric Clapton in a live performance of "Wonderful Tonight"

From the 1977 album, Slowhand, available on CD, LP

 

16
of 19

"You and Me" - Alice Cooper

coop_lacewhiskey.jpg
WEA InternationaL

We share a bed some lovin' and TV yeah

Even a shock rocker like Alice Cooper can carry off a tender classic rock love song. In fact, he delivered this one so well that it was a Top 10 hit in the US, a chart position he wouldn't hold again until 12 years later. "You and Me" is about love from the perspective of an average working stiff, something to which most of us can readily relate.

Watch Alice Cooper perform "You and Me" on The Muppet Show in 1978

From the 1977 album Lace and Whiskey, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

 

17
of 19

"You Are So Beautiful" - Joe Cocker

cocker_rain.jpg
UMVD Special Markets

You are so beautiful
To me

Joe Cocker's emotional delivery of "You Are So Beautiful" has made it one of his signature songs. It was originally recorded by Billy Preston, who co-wrote it with Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys (who sometimes performed it in live performance encores) but it will forever be associated with the gravel-voiced blues rocker.

Watch Joe Cocker's live performance of "You Are So Beautiful"

From the 1974 album, I Can Stand a Little Rain, available on CD, MP3

 

18
of 19

"You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim) - Rod Stewart

rod_footloose.jpg
Warner Bros

You're Celtic, United, but baby I've decided
You're the best team I've ever seen

When a dedicated soccer fan like Rod Stewart tells the object of his affection that she's even better than his two favorite teams, that's true love! 

Music video -  Rod Stewart - "You're In My Heart"

From the 1977 album, Foot Loose & Fancy Free, available on CD, LP, MP3, audio cassette

19
of 19

"You're the Inspiration" - Chicago

Rhino / WEA

No one needs you more than I need you.

Peter Cetera and David Foster originally wrote the song for Kenny Rogers, but it wound up instead on Chicago's 17th studio album, Cetera's last with the band. The music video featured a cameo appearance by actor Matt Dillon.

Watch music video of Chicago's "You're The Inspiration"

From the 1984 album Chicago 17, available on CD, LP, audio cassette