10 love songs we need right now: Austin artists on the art of love

The power of music manifests in many ways. It’s a healing balm that soothes the soul, a battle cry, a neck-breaking, booty-shaking party jam. Music transcends logic or reason, moving in the realms of emotion and instinct. At its most profound, it’s an expression of our shared humanity.

In love songs, artists stretch to make that connection, one soul reaching out to another. We, the listeners, are carried along, and as artists unravel the mysteries of the heart, we see our own lives reflected in their struggles.

As divisive rhetoric dominates the headlines, it’s helpful to remember that love is something we all share. For Valentine’s Day, we asked 10 Austin artists to suggest love songs that we need right now.

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY: 10 Love songs we need right now


“Fields of Athenry,” Irish traditional

Why he loves it: I love it because it’s gorgeous and sad and deceptively complex. It’s been recorded by countless artists, but I highly recommend the version from the “Veronica Guerin” soundtrack.

Why we need it: It’s an Irish folk ballad about a man being deported away from his wife and child for stealing corn from a British noble during the Great Famine. I think a lot of us need to be reminded right now of the ways that inhumane, disproportionately punitive policies can devastate the bonds of love between the people they impact.

Carrie Rodriguez

“I Envy The Wind,” Lucinda Williams

Why she loves it: It is every bit as elegant as a Shakespearean sonnet, makes me blush and is sung with one of the most heartbreaking voices of our time.

Why we need it: Great art made by supremely talented female artists needs to be paid attention to. Right now and always.

Britt Daniel (Spoon)

“Should I Stay or Should I Go,” the Clash

Why he loves it: It’s about self-respect and honesty, about knowing what you want and being direct about asking for it. It longs for communication, and it begins the communication. It offers love but isn’t pressuring or self-humiliating: If it’s not love his lover wants, he will GO.

Why we need it: The world doesn’t need more sap; it needs understanding.

Tameca Jones

“I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,” Donny Hathaway

Why she loves it: It makes me stop everything that I’m doing every time it comes on and makes me say “GAHTDAMN!” Donny’s tone drips over my body like a sweet lavender honey. Also, I’m a sucker for songs in 3/4 .

Why we need it: We need this song because we need to consume music that feels like a slow-cooked Sunday meal instead of music that feels like fast food.

Corey Baum (Croy and the Boys)

“Stuff That Works,” Guy Clark

Why he loves it: Guy Clark has a way with words. This song is a perfect example of his ability to be profound while keeping it simple.

Why we need it: Love is what you surround yourself with. This song reminds me to stop and count all the sources of love I receive every day, from my favorite shirt, to my beautiful wife, to my 3-week-old child.

Elizabeth McQueen

“Photograph,” A Giant Dog

Why she loves it: I’ve been married to my husband, Dave, for almost 14 years, and the more I continue down the intense journey, the more I long for songs that capture what that journey is really like. This song explores the truth of a successful long relationship. The fact is that if your love survives for decades, you will find yourself with a person who is old and wrinkly, with sagging boobs and split jeans. But rather than shy from that truth, the band celebrates it. Because really, when you think about it, loving someone well past the age of beauty is a beautiful concept.

Why we need it: We live in an aspirational internet age where our president is known for trading out wives as they age. We all, to a greater or lesser degree, fear getting old. This song can help you see through this damaging mindset into a larger truth about love and commitment.

Camila Torres-Castro (Cienfuegos of Chulita Vinyl Club ATX)

“Made-Up Lovesong 43,” Guillemots

Why she loves it: It’s a really honest portrayal of what good, pure love feels like. It doesn’t even have to be romantic; I believe it refers to any type of love.

Why we need it: Because we need to find beauty where we can. This song shows us that it might be hidden in plain sight.

Tomar Williams (Tomar and the FCs)

“Three Times a Lady,” Lionel Richie

Why he loves it: I love this song so much that it’s in my top five of all-time favorites. The piano and strings in this song are a perfect blend, along with the melody and the lyrics.

Why we need it: We need more songs like this because the beautiful meaning within the lyrics hits so hard. (“You’re once, twice, three times a lady.”) I rest my case!

Kydd Jones

“Real Love,” Mary J Blige

Why he loves it: It reminds me of when my mom was a single parent in the early ’90s, raising me and my brothers and sister. She gave us her all, and I remember that song being played in the house and all of us dancing in the living room.

Why we need it: Because everyone needs love. Real love! And that beat was knocking … for real.

Molly Burch

“Where or When,” Peggy Lee

Why she loves it: It always puts me in the mood for romance.

Why we need it: It will make you feel calm and fill you with the spirit of Valentines Day!

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