In It For The Long Haul: 20 Kickass Songs About Marriage

Songs about new attraction and lust pack every jukebox and radio playlist. Rarer are the songs that consider the long haul of enduring love.

What’s more intoxicating than new love?

When you first meet someone, your chest aches with desire, and you’re crushed by longing.

We find our muses when those sparks fly, and those feelings have inspired paintings, sonnets and songs that have lasted for centuries.

Art is also sparked by loss. How many of our favorite popular songs consider broken hearts, the pang of love for someone who doesn’t love us back? Start counting, if you have time.

But what about the long haul? In the most profound love, the first flush of lust is replaced by something less maddening, marked by trust, intimacy and commitment. People who’ve been happily committed for years often speak of forgiveness and apology, of patient minutes when they listened even when burned out, or when, at the end of an exhausting day, they let their lover go to sleep without getting to the end of their story. All of this is deeper, more complex than the thrill of the crush.

Yet we rarely hear about that kind of love in Rock n’ Roll or pop music, do we? How many songs do you know about marriage? Sure, we hear a lot of pledges of devotion, but how many songs are actually about all the years that come after the proposal?

So we, Gint and Joanna—both married for many years (not to each other!)—have collected 20 of the best love songs in popular music that we feel reflect what it really means to be committed.

The love of your life is about more than just meeting someone and falling in love. It requires more than just arranging a wedding. It’s about an intimate space, often with children, so multi-layered that descriptions fail to get to the heart of it. These songs, arranged in no particular order, take on the task.

♦◊♦

Jack JohnsonDo You Remember

Jack Johnson traces his relationship back to the day he first met his love, back when they were still in school. He locked his bike to hers so she couldn’t roll away. Next thing you know, it’s ten years later, and they’re still together.

I was crazy about you then and now
The craziest thing of all,
Over ten years have gone by
And you’re still mine,
We’re locked in time

♦◊♦


Neil Young
Harvest Moon

Those lucky enough to live in places with harvest moons understand the romance. The giant orange moon is, however, a signal of summer’s end, waning fertility, and the yellow color of the light seems to introduce autumn. Without saying so much, Neil Young captures mature, enduring love through this image as he longs for her to dance, certainly recalling her youth.

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

♦◊♦

Cowboy Junkies, “Anniversary Song

The Cowboy Junkies have captured the joy of marriage—the simple happiness that comes from walking through life, shoulder-to-shoulder, with your partner.

And I don’t know how I survived those days
Before I held your hand
Well I never thought that I would be the one
To admit that the moon and the sun
Shine so much more brighter when
Seen through two pairs of eyes than
When seen through just one.

♦◊♦

Adam Cohen, “What Other Guy

Adam Cohen (son of folk-music god Leonard Cohen) has done something remarkable, capturing how incredibly sexy it can be to know someone profoundly, to anticipate how they smell, how they kiss, how they taste…

I know what you want by what you’re wearing
The kind of night you’re preparing
I know what your hands do when you’re kissing
Your number one and number two favorite positions
I know how your skin glistens… listen

I know where you go with your beautiful friends
I know what you taste like when the night ends

♦◊♦

Brandi Carlile “The Story

In the course of a lifetime with someone, your spouse will know your story without you having to tell it.

♦◊♦

AP Photo

John LegendStay With You

It’s not ironic or tragic. John Legend really means it.

And there will be heartaches and pains, yes it will
But through it all, we will remain
In this life, we all know
Friends may come, and they may go
Through the years I know
I will stay
And in the end I know that we’ll find
Love so beautiful and divine
We’ll be lovers for a lifetime, yeah
And I’ll stay with you
I will stay with you

♦◊♦

Al GreenLet’s Stay Together

This song from 1972 is still popular for couples to dance to at their weddings, and for good reason.

Everybody says, “Let’s, let’s stay together
I’ll keep on lovin’ you whether, whether
Times are, oh times are good or times are bad
Whether, whether good or bad, happy or sad

♦◊♦

Ben HarperForever

Essentially a critique of loose promises. Ben Harper notes that people use the word “forever” to mean intense feelings in a present when they have lost all sense of the sprawling future.

Not talkin’ ’bout a year
No not three or four
I don’t want that kind of forever
In my life anymore
Forever always seems
to be around when it begins
but forever never seems
to be around when it ends
So give me your forever
Please your forever
Not a day less will do
From you

♦◊♦

Mark Knopfler and EmmyLou HarrisThis is Us

Mature and accomplished artists pair for a song that chronicles a long life together. To some it may seem mundane, just the ins and outs of daily life, but to those who’ve watched a long life pass by them in a marriage, the romance resonates.

♦◊♦

Ben FoldsThe Luckiest

And in a wide sea of eyes
I see one pair that I recognize
And I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

I love you more than I have
Ever found a way to say to you

Next door, there’s an old man who lived to his 90’s
And one day, passed away in his sleep
And his wife, she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away

I’m sorry, I know that’s a strange way
To tell you that I know we belong
That I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

♦◊♦

Kenny ChesneyThe Good Stuff

Country music has always kept the story straightforward and simple, to immediate effect. In this song by superstar Kenny Cheney, a man wanders into a bar after an argument with his new wife, only to be counseled by an older guy who knows the secret to a good marriage: Apology and making up are the “good stuff”.

♦◊♦

Dave MatthewsYou & Me

Dave Matthews, even in this song about endurance and a great-distance-traveled, provides a survey of double-entendres, his usual marijuana-inspired meditations on the finality of all things. For Dave, there’s always something beyond the end of the world.

We can always look back at what we did
All these memories of you and me baby
But right now it’s you and me forever girl
And you know we could do better than anything that we did
You know that you and me, we could do anything

♦◊♦

Taylor SwiftMine(see video)

♦◊♦

Jason MrazI Won’t Give Up

One of the hardest things about being in a long-term relationship is having to face the worst sides of yourself, inevitable during rough patches. Jason Mraz won’t give up no matter the obstacle.

I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am

♦◊♦

Tom WaitsI’m Still Here

There’s only one Tom Waits. This short tune, not two minutes long, trickling piano notes and a mere gesture from a distant violin, captures that moment perhaps all long-time lovers know: Hey, it’s you. Yes, it’s me. After all this time. What? You forgot? Waits composed this song with his wife, Kathleen Brennan.

You haven’t looked at me that way in years
Your watch has stopped and the pond is clear
Someone turn the lights back off
I’ll love you til all time is gone

♦◊♦

The PoguesFairytale of New York

Shane MacGowan knows the tragedy of love felt in the bones by a man simply too downtrodden, by choice and fate, to turn it into anything beyond a promise. He believes this promise, down to his bones and bowels, and his love is real, enduring, ever-present, in the drunk tank and the horse track where he hit the long-shot (if we believe him). He’s pathetic, yes, but the lass has stayed with him to her final days, that drip in her arm, the rasp in her voice. Only the naive believe this is their last Christmas.

You’re a bum
You’re a punk

You’re an old slut on junk
Living there almost dead
On a drip in that bed

You scum bag
You maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last

♦◊♦

Indigo GirlsPower of Two

You know the things that I am afraid of
I’m not afraid to tell
And if we ever leave a legacy
It’s that we loved each other well
Cause I’ve seen the shadows of so many people
Trying on the treasures of youth
But a road that fancy and fast
Ends in a fatal crash
And I’m glad we got off
To tell you the truth

♦◊♦

Neil YoungFrom Hank to Hendrix

Neil Young, again. If you make a list of great songs and you don’t have two from Neil Young, you’ve screwed something up.

The venerable Mr. Young speaks of a life-long love, measured in eras of music icons, that is about to end “in the big divorce, California-style” and he asks, “Can we get it together? Can we still stand side by side?”

♦◊♦

Head and the HeartHoney Come Home

A song about regret, about how a marriage can fall apart, about realizing what really matters. If you pay attention to the lyrics, this song will gut you. Marriage can be hard work, and sometimes we must ask to be let back in the house.

The kids say hello
to us in our separate homes
Darling please come home
I’ve cleaned out the fridge
Wiped the counters off
and put away my clothes

Do you remember every block
Every minute of every walk we used to take
We were young so many years ago

And I think of all this time
that we have wasted with all our fighting and I cry
Just want to die with the one I love beside me

♦◊♦

Paul McCartney and WingsMaybe I’m Amazed

It’s hard to separate the singer from the song in the case of “Maybe I’m Amazed”. Sir Paul is first and foremost a Beatle, but he also formed one of the strongest family units in Rock n’ Roll history. His marriage to Linda Eastman in 1969 was legendary, and despite the turbulent political times, Paul and Linda were married until her death from breast cancer in 1998. They have three children together and a legacy of photography, love, and music (she, too, was in Wings), .

You can’t hear this song without imagining Paul singing to Linda. And that’s what makes it a perfect song about marriage.

 

 
 
Lead photo by Jonrawlinson

Paul and Linda: AP

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Gint Aras and Joanna Schroeder

Gint Aras is the Marriage Editor at The Good Men Project. Joanna Schroeder is a Senior Editor and Editor of Sex & Relationships at The Good Men Project.

Comments

  1. Mark Radcliffe says:

    Nice start. ;) But I gotta add Marc Cohn’s “True Companion.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp6zoc84NcU

    • @Mark Radcliffe: True Companion is the first one that came to mind for me too!

      • Mark Radcliffe says:

        Right? No list is complete without it. ;) I’ve played the song at 10 weddings myself (when not playing my own wedding-themed songs) and it never fails to bring the tears. He’s my songwriting hero…

    • DITTO! My husband and I consider True Companion “our song.” We didn’t dance to it at our wedding…alas, we were too young and broke to afford a deejay at our reception…but we did listen to it in the car as we drove away for our brief honeymoon.

      18 years and much joy and pain later, we are still together, and the meaning of the song has only grown deeper and sweeter with age. We still listen to it every year on our anniversary.

      This list should be expanded to 21 so True Companion can be included (or else drop the Taylor Swift song …sorry but I think she is very overrated and I’m just not a fan.)

  2. Please add: “Still the One” by Orleans

  3. Harvest Moon was our wedding song! Hands down one of the most romantic songs ever!

  4. Mark Sherman says:

    Talking about Paul McCartney (who, to my mind, is to popular music what Mozart was to classical), how about his beautiful “Here, There, and Everywhere”? which the Beatles recorded in 1966 just before Paul’s 24th birthday.
    My wife and I had it played as our first song when we got married in 1970!

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Aww, that’s so awesome, Mark!

      I don’t know “Here, There, and Everywhere” – I’m going to have to go listen to it now!

      Did you like the list?

      • Mark Sherman says:

        Yes, I do like the list (though I’ll admit I’m not familiar with all the songs on it). And I like the songs added in the comments too.

        I think love inspires songwriters, as well as other artists, to do some of their finest work.

  5. Rhondda Purtell says:

    Some more to add to the list:
    Silver Threads among the Gold
    When I grow too old to Dream
    Maggie

  6. Dave McCartney says:

    The first one that came to mind was Lyle Lovette singing Flyswatter/Icewater Blues.

  7. Bread, “Make it with you” classic!

  8. Frank Eannarino says:

    Elvis Costello “Sweet Pear” off his album Mighty Like A Rose.

    “I swear this is my prayer
    till we’re burned and scattered in the atmosphere
    Or lost in the world across a crowded room
    I am your stupid lover, your wretched groom.”

  9. Another good one…
    In my life – Beatles

  10. I’d add two more to that list-
    Journey’s Faithfully – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMD8hBsA-RI
    I Love You – Climax Blues Band – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObG48PZHU2k

  11. “All About Soul” by Billy Joel. Such a perfect love song. And there’s a runner-up with his “She’s Always a Woman,” too.

  12. Blah Blah Blah says:

    UUUMMMMMMMM… Am I one who notices that these songs are performed by people who have either never been married, or are divorced?

  13. Bob Wright says:

    The Book of Love by Peter Gabriel. It’s great and was one of those perfectly placed songs in a movie, Shall We Dance.

  14. I just got into an argument this weekend that “Fairytale of New York” is a love song, so this is a very timely verification.

  15. I’ll add You’re My Best Friend by Queen

  16. Why couldn’t y’all have made a Spotify playlist of these songs?!

  17. “Naked As We Came” by Iron & Wine is definitely such a song, and quite lovely.

  18. I made a Spotify playlist of this! The Good Men Project should really consider making Spotify playlists on a regular basis. I think a lot of us want to be more familiar with good music that reflects our values, and you all are a great group to lead that!

    http://open.spotify.com/user/1243236499/playlist/2MynyC9pSuvS1dnPLZRGCQ

  19. How about “Grow Old With Me,” by John Lennon? Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version was my wedding song. :)

  20. I’d like to add an oldie but goodie… This one of my favorites from Roy Clark .. “Honeymoon Feelin'”
    It seems like only yesterday you walked into my life
    And answered all my prayers and made my dreams come true
    And even though it’s been some time since I made you my wife
    Every day I find I’m even more in love with you.

    I still get that honeymoon feeling
    After all these years my heart goes reeling.
    Every time you touch me it’s the living end
    I still get that honeymoon feeling
    I can still hear those wedding bells ringing
    Every time we love I get that honeymoon feeling again.

  21. You forgot “love remembers” by Craig Morgan

  22. Kip Moore – Hey Pretty Girl
    Brad Paisley – I Thought I Loved You Then. :)
    Hands down favorites.

  23. Sting’s Fields of Gold and Eva Cassidy’s Anniversary song are both worth adding to the list too :)

  24. The Boss, “If I Fall Behind”

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Good Men Project has a list of 20 kick-ass songs about marriage. How many of these are in your [...]

  2. [...] list.             Gint Aras and Joanna Schroeder recently posted a terrific piece titled In It For the Long Haul: 20 Kickass Songs About Marriage. Many of the songs listed, including such beautiful ones as John Legend’s “Stay With You” [...]

Speak Your Mind

*