It’s easy to find songs about love. It is not so easy to find songs that say something original and enduring about it. Here are five which do so in ways varied and engaging. They could be just the soundtrack for your Valentine’s Day.
Top artists including Martina McBride, Patty Loveless, Etta james, and George Strait have recorded Gretchen Peters’ songs, so you know she’s got the talent. She often prefers to write about love indirectly, and that’s the case with her song Northern Lights. It is a quiet, contemplative, and passionate look at holding love in the stillness of the moment. It’s the title track to Peters’ Christmas album, but it works very well as a love song for any season.
When she does her song Carrick-a-rede in concert, Cathie Ryan has good fun with the fact that there are not too many Irish love songs from the tradition which have happy endings, a fact which helped inspire her to write the song. The lovers end up together in Ryan’s song, but they have to cross the rope bridge for which the song is named to do so. It’s a real bridge, in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, and it offers an eighty foot drop into the cold sea should you miss your step. That sort of journey, Ryan says, reminds her of the risks and the joys of holding on and letting go that happen when you give your heart. “And some people just take it as a story about a couple going off to have a romp, too,” the songwriter says, laughing, “and that’s perfectly fine.” You’ll find Carrick a Rede on Ryan’s album Somewhere Along the Road.
There are good times to be had by the farmer and his wife in the song The Plooman, too. The gentle affection shown by the farmer’s wife on seeing her husband come home tired and weary turns into pride and laughter as he turns that idea around with a bit of lively dancing in this song by Robert Burns. Though he wrote it in Scotland more than two centuries ago, it holds emotions listeners across the world today will recognize and share. You’ll find a fine version of it by Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan on their album called Adoon Winding Nith.
Carrie Newcomer writes serious and passionate songs, songs about the challenges of life and the mysteries of faith — and she knows all that requires a good sense of humor, too. Her sense of humor is the guiding idea when the Indiana based musician looks at loving and growing older in her song called Silver. Whatever your age, you’ll very likely get a chuckle out of the questions she asks in the song, and enjoy the affirmation of hope and lasting love that comes through the humor. Silver is on Newcomer’s album The Gathering of Spirits.
You could see John O’ Dreams as a lullabye for a child, or for a lover. You could see it as a song to sing with friends around the fireside, or a quiet way to end an evening of celebration, perhaps, your Valentine’s Day celebration. Susan and Stephen Lindsay’s laid back, informal take on the song from their album From the Green to the Blue, which I’ve linked to here, is one that well suits the spirit of the song.