DFW Music News

10 North Texas Love Songs To Get You Ready for Valentine’s Day

Elliott Smith, at an NYC performance, before taking his life at age 34. His love songs still hold up.
Elliott Smith, at an NYC performance, before taking his life at age 34. His love songs still hold up. Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/Flybutter

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, millions are celebrating their blossoming courtships, while others are bitterly seething with envy and contempt over those who are.

Whichever camp you fall under, if either, the fact remains that love is one of the most precious things we have in this life, and music has always been its default medium of celebration. As such, there is a Scrooge McDuck vault’s worth of feel-good, wholesome love songs out there, and in anticipation of love’s busiest day, we picked 10 locally sourced ones for your consideration.

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, “Love Like We Do”
This song was released a few months before Edie Brickell met her current husband, Paul Simon, so it's not about him. However, this particular number emphasizes some of love’s rockier moments, when arguments and quarrels begin to test its endurance, especially with the lyrical passage: “No aggravation that we can't get through / A situation for the lucky few / And everyday is just a little more / Of time together to be happy for / I'm happy even when the times are rough / 'cause any time with you is good enough.”

Bastards of Soul, “The Way It Should Be”

Bastards of Soul carved themselves a space as the “it” band of Dallas in selling out an LP release show at The Kessler over the weekend, and the passion behind the single “The Way It Should Be” is a compelling testament as to why. It’s well-understood that few genres do love songs as much justice as R&B and soul, but if you’re looking for some more fresh-faced baton carriers a la Leon Bridges and Black Pumas, give this a shot.

Townes Van Zandt, “Be Here to Love Me”

Fort Worth-born country and folk legend Townes Van Zandt boasts a formidable collection of singles, the most notorious being the Willie Nelson-covered “Pancho and Lefty,” but another popular, yet somehow underrated song in his repertoire was the namesake of the posthumous 2004 documentary Be Here to Love Me (it was also on an episode of Master of None, but that’s neither here nor there). This single is, in true Van Zandt fashion, stripped back and filled to the brim with lyrical prowess, but you know what adds to it more than the lyrical refrain, “Hold me and tell me you'll be here to love me today”? The flute instrumental.

Kaash Paige, “Love Songs”
On her breakout single “Love Songs,” Dallas rapper Kaash Paige tries to maintain some modicum of lyrical subtlety in singing, “I keep sticking to you ‘cause them four stupid letters,” but it’s hard to question what those four letters are when the follow-up lyric, “You got me singing love songs,” is repeated over a dozen times

Elliott Smith, “Say Yes”
Since saying “I’m in love with a girl” is clichéd and tired, the Duncanville-raised Elliott Smith decided to more effectively drive home the point by kicking off this song with, “I’m in love with the world through the eyes of a girl.” That’s some poetic jiujitsu right there.

Kacey Musgraves, “Love is a Wild Thing”

There’s a difference between loving someone and being in love with them, and on her 2018 track “Love is a Wild Thing,” Kacey Musgraves makes it a point to outline the stark contrasts therein. The vocal and instrumental tones meander between happy and melancholic, and Musgraves’ lyrics are just as effective when using rich imagery to depict love’s endurance: “Running like a river tryna find the ocean / Flowers in the concrete / Climbing over fences, blooming in the shadows.”

St. Vincent, “Marry Me”

In St. Vincent’s discography, there are three songs that comprise what fans call the “Johnny trilogy”: “Prince Johnny,” “Happy Birthday Johnny” and this song. If you follow the three songs closely, they document a clearly troubled, self-destructive protagonist that the narrator has a nuanced relationship with, but Annie Clark brilliantly made “Marry Me” consistent with this narrative while making it easy for casual listeners to construct an entirely different meaning from it. Long story short, if you’re looking for music to fall in love to, regardless of its intended meaning, this song is perfect, and you have her blessing to play it at your wedding.

Roky Erickson,“I Love the Living You”

If you were to tell your significant other, “I love the living you,” there’s a chance they’d say something along the lines of, “As opposed to the dead me?” They may not understand the meaning of that sentence, but then again, there’s not a lot about the late Roky Erickson that was easy to grasp. Still, the Dallas-born psychedelic rock pioneer sounds incredibly sincere when he forgoes his signature 13th Floor Elevators vocals and gently croons lyrics such as, “Thank God, God bless and thank the living you,” and, “I love everything that’s you.” Also, If you’re a fan of Neutral Milk Hotel, Jeff Mangum covered this song on his 2013 comeback tour, and even though he explicitly asked fans not to record his live sets, there are videos of the performance out there.

Quentin Moore, “Make It Mine”

The soul/R&B/funk sensibilities of this song alone make it a worthy contender for Valentine’s Day anthems, but what truly seals the deal are these lyrics:
  • “We can tango to some D’Angelo”
  • “You’re so worthy of the hype / And I just want to be a blessing / So take advantage of this pamper session”
  • “I wanna hear your symphony sing"
Erykah Badu, “In Love With You”
It wouldn’t be a true listicle if we didn’t save the best for last, and since this is a Dallas-centric list, that includes one of the most popular duets from the queen herself, Ms. Erykah Badu. On this cut, Badu and Stephen Marley sing about love at first sight and dive into the fuzzy-feely aspects of love, all while throwing in the occasional scat. It’s a truly beautiful listen, and we’d be saying this even if Badu wasn’t Dallas royalty.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Garrett Gravley was born and grew up in Dallas. He mostly writes about music, but veers into arts and culture, local news and politics. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas and has written for the Dallas Observer since October 2018.