Top 10 Classic Rock Songs

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

“Something” – George Harrison:

When Paul McCartney and John Lennon call a song one of the best that George Harrison wrote and among the best that The Beatles recorded, that’s high praise indeed. If it’s true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, a lot of other artists feel the same — more than 150 of them have covered “Something” since it appeared on Abbey Road in 1969.

“You Are So Beautiful” – Joe Cocker:

Joe Cocker’s emotional delivery of “You Are So Beautiful” has made it one of his signature songs. Released on Cocker’s 1974 I Can Stand a Little Rain album, 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.

“Love Of My Life” – Queen:

Freddy Mercury was inspired to write “Love Of My Life” by his relationship with longtime companion, Mary Austin. Released in 1975 on A Night At The Opera, the song became so popular that when Queen performed in concert, Mercury often stayed silent while the audience sang. It was generally performed acoustically in concert, with Brian May accompanying Mercury (and the audience) on 12-string guitar. The song, with an almost operatic quality, showcased Mercury’s amazing vocal range.

“You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” – Rod Stewart:

When a dedicated soccer fan like Rod Stewart tells the object of his affection that she’s even better than his two favorite teams (“you’re Celtic and United”) that’s true love! Stewart wrote “You’re In My Heart” for his 1977 Foot Loose & Fancy Free album.

“You’re the Inspiration” – Chicago:

Lead singer and bassist Peter Cetera and producer David Foster originally wrote “You’re The Inspiration” for Kenny Rogers, but when Rogers passed on it, Cetera was happy to include it on Chicago 17 in 1984, his last album with Chicago before going solo. The song helped make the album the band’s biggest seller.

“I Want To Know What Love Is” – Foreigner:

When hard rockers Foreigner included the love ballad “I Want To Know What Love Is” on the 1984 Agent Provocateur album, they obviously struck a chord (yes, the pun is intended) with their fans, who 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.

“Love Will Keep Us Alive” – Eagles:

One of two Top 40 singles from Eagles’ 1994 live album, Hell Freezes Over, “Love Will Keep Us Alive” was the only song on the album that wasn’t written or co-written by members of the band. Traffic co-founder Jim Capaldi co-wrote the ballad. Bassist Timothy B. Schmit provided lead vocals.

“Wonderful Tonight” – Eric Clapton:

Yes, the same artist who brought us “Cocaine” also delivered (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 slow hand, released in 1977, but it would be another 14 years before “Wonderful Tonight” was released as a single.

“You and Me” – Alice Cooper:

Even a shock rocker like Alice Cooper can carry off a tender love song. In fact, he delivered this one so well (on Lace and Whiskey in 1977) 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.

‘Wild Horses’ – Rolling Stones:

“Wild Horses” was anything but a typical Rolling Stones song. Released on Sticky Fingers in 1971, it was a slow, acoustic ballad. The song was written by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Gram Parsons (Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds) who recorded the first of the dozens of covers that would follow.