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 has more than its share of hard-driving, eardrum-busting songs about illegal substances and depictions of sexual escapades. It is true, though, that the genre also produced many heartfelt love songs, perfect for Valentine's Day.

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

'Angel': Aerosmith

Aerosmith album
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."

'From the Beginning': Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Emerson Lake and Palmer
Shout! Factory

You were meant to be here, from the beginning

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

Watch a live performance of "From The Beginning"; the song first appeared on the 1972 album "Trilogy."

'I Want to Know What Love Is': Foreigner

foreigner agent
Atlantic Records

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

When Foreigner included the ballad "I Want to Know What Love Is" on the 1984 "Agent Provocateur" album, they obviously struck a chord (pun intended). Their fans quickly made it No. 1 in the United States and United Kingdom. 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.

'Lady': Styx

styx
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; it's from the 1973 album "Styx II," before Tommy Shaw joined the band. 

Watch a live Styx performance of "Lady" with Dennis DeYoung (the lineup from the late 90s and early 2000s with Todd Sucherman on drums, who replaced John Panozzo following his death in the mid-1990s).

'Layla': Derek and the Dominos

Layla single cover
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 Pattie 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. It appears on the 1970 album "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs."

'Love of My Life': Queen

queen album cover
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, showcases Mercury's amazing vocal range. Fittingly enough, it originally appeared on the 1975 album "A Night at the Opera."

'Love Will Keep Us Alive': Eagles

eagles album cover
Geffen Records

When we're hungry, love will keep us alive

On 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 cowrote the ballad. Bassist Timothy B. Schmit provides lead vocals.

'Maybe I'm Amazed': Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney album
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 "Maybe I'm Amazed" as the song he would most like to be remembered for. It originally appeared on the 1970 album "McCartney."

'Nights in White Satin': Moody Blues

Days of Future Passed
Polydor Records

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

Moody Blues singer 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 more than 50 years, but it also has been covered by at least 60 artists since its original release. 

'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now': Starship

Starship album cover
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 No. 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. The song first appeared on the 1987 album "No Protection."

'Our House': Crosby, Stills & Nash

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young album cover
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. It first appeared on the 1970 album "Deja Vu."

'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, high praise indeed. It first appeared on the group's 1969 album, "Abbey Road."

'Waiting for a Girl Like You': Foreigner

Foreigner 4 Album cover
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 from the album "4," 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. 

'Wild Horses': The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones album cover
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 is a slow, acoustic love ballad. The song was written by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Gram Parsons.

'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. 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.

'You and Me': Alice Cooper

Lace and Whiskey Alice Cooper album cover
WEA International

We share a bed some lovin' and TV yeah

Even a shock rocker like Alice Cooper can pull off a tender classic rock love song. In fact, he delivered this one so well that it was a Top 10 hit in the United States, 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. The song is from the 1977 album "Lace and Whiskey."

'You Are So Beautiful': Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker album cover
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. It's originally from the 1974 album "I Can Stand a Little Rain."

'You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)': Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart album cover
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! The song originally appeared on the 1977 album, "Foot Loose & Fancy Free."

'You're the Inspiration': Chicago

Chicago album cover
Rhino/WEA

No one needs you more than I need you

Peter Cetera and David Foster originally wrote "You're The Inspiration" for Kenny Rogers, but it wound up instead on Chicago's 17th studio album in 1984, Cetera's last with the band. The music video features a cameo appearance by actor Matt Dillon.