Best Country Love Songs to Share With Your Loved Ones on Valentine's Day
Country love songs share just about every aspect and emotion having to do with love, and they are some of our favorites year-round.
These songs, both old and new, capture all aspects of love — romantic, platonic and even familial — and are some of the best songs of all time in any genre. Which one's your favorite?
'Love Story' by Taylor Swift
Year released: 2008
Bottom line: "Love Story" is the tale of a troubled romance between a girl and her love for a guy from the wrong side of the tracks. Swift's inspiration for the song came from the classic Shakespearean play "Romeo and Juliet," minus the tragedy of the original. Her version ends in a proposal.
While it's never been confirmed, Swift was dating Joe Jonas at the time she wrote the song (against her father's wishes), and he may have been the inspiration.
Swift said: "I wrote it about a guy that I was talking to. He wasn’t the popular choice, but I believed in it. I thought, ‘This love is difficult, but it’s real.’ And I knew I needed to put that line in somewhere. I think that this song is really more about a love that’s not convenient and not as comfortable as something else, but it’s something you have to fight for. I added the ending [a proposal] because I want that ending. I want someone to say, ‘I love you, and that’s all I really know.’ That’s the girly girl in me."
'How Do I Live' by LeAnn Rimes/Trisha Yearwood
Year released: 1997
Album: "You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs"
Bottom line: "How Do I Live" speaks to the depth of a person's love for another and the fear of losing that person. Written by prolific award-winning songwriter Diane Warren, the song was originally recorded for the "Con Air " soundtrack by both LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood.
Warren first offered it to Rimes, who recorded it, but the song hadn't yet been chosen for the movie. "Con Air" producer Jerry Bruckheimer loved it but wanted changes that LeAnn's father and producer Wilbur Rimes did not want to make, so Trisha Yearwood was brought in to rerecord it with the changes.
The two singers had a hit on their hands — it went to the top of the charts for Rimes and earned second place on the country charts for Yearwood.
'Wichita Lineman' by Glen Campbell
Year released: 1968
Album: "Wichita Lineman"
Bottom line: While linemen still exist, fewer and fewer people know who they are and what they do — they work on utility poles across the country. Judging by the lyrics, the Wichita Lineman happens to be working phone poles. ("I hear you singin’ in the wire, I can hear you through the whine") while thinking of his love, who is far away.
The song, written by a then 21-year-old Jimmy Webb, was inspired by one such person working in Oklahoma: "I have a very specific image of a guy I saw working up on the wires out in the Oklahoma panhandle with a telephone in his hand talking to somebody. And this exquisite aesthetic balance of all these telephone poles just decreasing in size as they got further and further away from the viewer — that being me — and as I passed him, he began to diminish in size. The country is so flat, it was like this one quick snapshot of this guy rigged up on a pole with this telephone in his hand. And this song came about, really, from wondering what that was like, what it would be like to be working up on a telephone pole and what would you be talking about? Was he talking to his girlfriend? Probably just doing one of those checks where they called up and said, 'Mile marker 46,' you know. 'Everything's working so far.'"
And how did Webb come up with "I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time" — the most romantic lines ever written? He said: "I was trying to express the inexpressible, the yearning that goes beyond yearning, that goes into another dimension ... It was a moment where the language failed me really; there was no way for me to pour this out, except to go into an abstract realm, and that was the line that popped out."
'Crazy' by Patsy Cline
Year released: 1963
Bottom line: We've all felt as though we've gone crazy post-breakup, and we feel like we just can't live without that other person.
Written by Willie Nelson, a virtually unknown songwriter at the time, "Crazy" was not a song Cline wanted to record (she felt it was too maudlin), but her husband, Charlie Dick, talked her into it.
"Crazy" became one of the biggest hits of Cline's career. According to the Amusement and Music Operators Association, it is still the most-played song on jukeboxes in the country over 60 years after its release.
'Bless the Broken Road' by Rascal Flatts
Year released: 2004
Album: "Feels Like Today"
Bottom line: The song, which was originally recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1994, describes how relationships that don't work eventually lead to the one that does.
Rascal Flatts almost put this song on their 2002 LP, "Melt," but already had too many ballads. They placed it on their 2004 effort, and it won a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 2006.
'If Tomorrow Never Comes' by Garth Brooks
Year released: 1989
Album: "Garth Brooks"
Bottom line: "If Tomorrow Never Comes" was Garth Brooks' first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and one of the most popular country love songs of all time.
In it, an introspective man wonders if he dies tomorrow, "will she know how much I love her?" He thinks about the loved ones he's lost and makes a promise to show her how much she means to him every day going forward.
This song has been said to be about the love of a father for his daughter, but Brooks insists that's not true: "It's about this guy who wants to make sure his wife knows that if something happens to him, that he did love her. She didn't have to wonder."
'Breathe' by Faith Hill
Year released: 1999
Bottom line: "Breathe" talks about how the world slips away as Hill shares intimate moments — in other words, she can simply "breathe."
"Breathe" was a smash hit for Hill winning the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 2001. The album of the same name won Best Country Album.
The song was also the No. 1 song on Billboard's year-end charts.
'He Stopped Loving Her Today' by George Jones
Year released: 1980
Album: "I Am What I Am"
Bottom line: Jones, like Patsy Cline before him, did not want to do this song, as he deemed it too morbid. Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam, according to Braddock, "It's the story of a man whose love was so strong that the only way he could get over this woman was to die ... the man was obsessed with this woman, and he never got over it. He never moved on."
"He Stopped Loving Her Today" was one of Jones' biggest-ever hits. It went to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs charts and helped Jones score a Grammy for Best Male Vocal Country Performance.
'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash
Year released: 1963
Album: "Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash"
Bottom line: If you've seen the movie "Walk The Line," you may already know this song was written about Cash's passionate relationship with June Carter.
But it was actually Carter who wrote the song that Cash would come to be famous for. She was concerned about his wild ways (and drug dependency), but she couldn't resist falling in love with him. She stated that: "There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns."
Cash's first wife, Vivian, denied Carter penned the tune, saying: "To this day, it confounds me to hear the elaborate details June told of writing that song for Johnny. She didn’t write that song any more than I did. The truth is, Johnny wrote that song, while pilled up and drunk, about a certain private female body part. All those years of her claiming she wrote it herself, and she probably never knew what the song was really about."
"Ring of Fire" became one of Cash's biggest hits. He married June Carter in 1968.
'I Will Always Love' You by Dolly Parton
Year released: 1973
Bottom line: Although "I Will Always Love You" seems like the ultimate ode to romantic love (thanks to Whitney Houston's version, which was a smash pop hit), it isn't — Parton wrote it for her mentor and friend, country star Porter Wagoner.
Wagoner took the young singer under his wing, asking her to co-host his 1967 TV show. While the two had undeniable chemistry and a string of hits, Parton wanted to venture out on her own. She didn't know how to tell him, so she wrote her feelings in song. When she played him the tune, he cried and said, it was "the prettiest song I ever heard."
It was a No. 1 hit for Parton and is one of the most popular country classics of all time.