We’re genuinely spoiled for choice when it comes to the top guitar love songs. I could easily have expanded the list to fill these pages ten times over. However, to keep things short, I’ve selected my Top 10 picks after quite a bit of consideration.
I hope some of your choices are among them, and if not, I apologize in advance. Let’s get to it and take a look at the first song…
- The 12 Top Guitar Love Songs
- Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers
- You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker
- I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
- You’re Beautiful by James Blunt
- Parisienne Walkways by Gary Moore
- Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
- Wonderwall by Oasis
- Yellow by Coldplay
- Stand by Me by Ben E. King
- Don’t Let Me Down by The Beatles
- Heaven by Bryan Adams
- Always on my Mind by Elvis Presley
- Searching for More Love Songs?
- Top Guitar Love Songs – Final Thoughts
The 12 Top Guitar Love Songs
Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers
This beautiful guitar love song is led by a few simple chords on an acoustic guitar. It’s a soulful love song that delivers the message simply and effectively with very little intrusive musical accompaniment.
It’s also not overly complicated from a lyrical standpoint. There are so few words that you can easily learn them in a matter of minutes. For any guitarist and singer, it’s very easy to remember.
It ended up a whole lot more…
It was released in 1971 and was a track from the album, Just As I Am. The song proved to be Bill Withers’s most popular. It charted at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 US charts and went on to sell a million copies.
It’s a much-loved and much-covered song by a host of famous artists. Most famously, musicians like The Temptations and Michael Jackson have put their spin on it. A true testament to a well-written and timeless piece of music.
Sadly, Bill Withers passed in 2020 and is a huge loss to his family, friends, and the music world.
You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker
Joe Cocker was one of the greatest Soul and Blues singers the world has ever seen. His voice was nothing short of incredible. His phrasing and expression were unique.
“You Are Beautiful” is a simple song but full of emotion with a strong message. The wording couldn’t make things any clearer. You don’t have to study the lyrics to search for hidden meanings here.
It was written by Bruce Fisher and Billy Preston. Before Joe Cocker’s release, Billy Preston released his version, though it was decidedly less successful.
Joe Cocker brought out his cover in 1974, and it quickly became a big hit. It was ultimately Joe Cocker’s highest-charting single, reaching #5 in the States. It was taken from the album, I Can Stand a Little Rain, which charted at #11.
I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
Most people will associate this with Whitney Houston. And why wouldn’t you? After all, Whitney Houston’s version is still the most successful ever for a female artist. It sold over 20 million copies which is almost certain to never be replicated.
A large part of the success is due to the song being linked to the 1992 hit movie, “The Bodyguard,” starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.
Back to Dolly Parton’s original song…
Because of the massive exposure to the song through the movie, and because most people are less than 100 years old, the fact that Doll Parton wrote and first performed the song in 1982 is often lost.
So, let’s try to remember it. Because although the original version was very different, it’s no less powerful.
Dolly Parton performs her version of “I Will Always Love You” with some gorgeous accompaniments from an acoustic and slide guitar. It gives it a strong Country vibe which is nothing less than you’d expect from such a Country icon.
It got the top spot in the US Country charts and went on to sell over a million copies. A relatively modest number compared to Whitney Houston’s interpretation, but hardly important.
Another interesting fact is that the song was also included in a movie soundtrack. It was the fourth track on the second side of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” The movie was released in the same year as the song and starred Dolly Parton along with Burt Reynolds.
Ultimately, “I Will Always Love You” is musically a well-crafted and beautiful love song that will undoubtedly end up being sung long into the future by various artists. The fact is that it has already been covered by a host of other musicians other than Whitney Houston.
You’re Beautiful by James Blunt
This is a popular guitar love song that’s sure to get the ladies’ pulses racing. James Blunt is a singer-songwriter, and many of his songs were written as simple guitar arrangements. “You’re Beautiful” is no exception.
The acoustic guitar is the primary instrument, although the single gets the full band treatment in a tastefully restrained manner.
One heck of a debut…
The song was released in 2004 as the lead single from his debut album, Back to Bedlam. The single went to #1 in the UK, achieving multi-platinum status in both countries. The album sold crazy numbers and ended with over 23 million copies sold.
Because it was written by Blunt after he unexpectedly caught a glimpse of an ex-girlfriend on the Underground with a new guy, they locked gazes, and then that was it. There was no follow-up or any happy ever after.
The experience stayed with him. He penned an initial outline of the song until it was eventually finished as a joint effort with writers Amanda Ghost and Sasha Stark. Although it appears to be a romantic guitar love song, it differs lyrically from James Blunt’s experience on the Underground.
The song was changed so that the main character was high and stalking another man’s partner. Consequently, far from being a big romantic song, it’s more accurately about female harassment from a guy on drugs.
Quite the 0ne-eighty…
However, this does stop it from being a popular choice as the music for the first dance at weddings. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to warn you happy couples, but guys, do your research before picking your songs. My warning and analysis will doubtless count for nothing.
Right now, I bet there are hordes of teary-eyed women listening to this and waiting for James Blunt to take them away from their drudgery. Girls, wipe your eyes and get a one-way ticket to Ibiza; he’s waiting for you.
Parisienne Walkways by Gary Moore
The song is an absolute Rock classic and includes what has to be one of the greatest guitar solos of all time. The beauty and intensity are incredible. It’s one of the most passionate and emotionally charged guitar solos I’ve ever heard.
It was originally composed by Gary Moore with help from his ex-bandmate, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. It was released in 1979 and featured on his album, Back on the Streets, which was released a year previously. “Parisienne Walkways” charted at #8 in the UK and #5 in Ireland.
The song is about unrequited love and the fantasy of romance in Paris. Phil Lynott sings the opening lyrics with an incredible vulnerability that sets the song up perfectly. Gary Moore takes up the singing in the second verse sounding more resigned and wistful.
This all builds to the solo, which is an absolute master class of Rock/Blues guitar playing. It’s absolutely magic, but to hear the true brilliance of Gary Moore, you need to listen to the live version.
Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
We’re moving on to another incredible guitarist. Eric Clapton has for a long time been regarded as one of the greatest Rock guitarists of all time; I’ve been lucky enough to see him twice. I wasn’t a fan before I heard him play, but I was after that first concert.
As well as being a talented guitarist, he’s a great songwriter too. He can write hard Rock songs, but he’s just as comfortable righting slow Rock ballads. “Wonderful Tonight” is a good example.
It was released in 1977 and appeared on the album Slowhand as the second single. It sold well and just fell short of #1 in the UK. Final sales topped over a million.
Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em…
The song was written as a tribute and a love poem to his then-girlfriend Pattie Boyd, whom he later married in 1979. Meanwhile, George Harrison, to whom she was still married, was writing a break-up song for her. Note to everyone: Keep Clapton away from your wives and girlfriends.
When Clapton finds the time to keep his hands off other men’s women, he’s a guitar genius. The short solo and guitar work in “Wonderful Tonight” is, well, wonderful.
Although the original song has a lot to commend, I much prefer the stripped-back acoustic version. You get to appreciate the beauty of the song and Clapton’s guitar skills even more.
Wonderwall by Oasis
Oasis was one of the biggest bands to come out of the UK in the 90s. They were known for their Alternative Rock and Brit Pop kind of music. They were uncompromising, and their recordings and performances had a distinct swagger and attitude about them.
Their style quickly caught on around the world and ultimately led to huge commercial success.
The single became their best-selling release, chalking up over two million sales. The album, which was their second, also became their best-selling, with over 22 million copies sold.
“Wonderwall” is a simply structured love ballad that you’d typically hear acoustically. It’s much covered, and if you do hear it live, it’s probably as a one-man and one guitar version.
The meaning behind the song is not clear…
It has been assumed that it was written by Noel for his girlfriend at the time, Meg Mathews. However, it could be that this is not a love ballad at all and was written as a plea for an imaginary friend to help save him from himself.
I’ve always taken it as one of the top guitar love songs, but read the lyrics and decide for yourself.
It is a great song, but I think that the B-side, “The Masterplan,” is even better. That is my favorite Oasis song which sadly wasn’t included on the album. I say sadly because I bought the album CD and not the single, so it was a long time later that I finally got to hear “The Masterplan.”
Yellow by Coldplay
I love Coldplay, but they do appear to be a bit polarizing. I don’t get it, and the fact that they’re sold over 100 million albums suggests that there are a lot of other Coldplay fans that don’t get it, either.
“Yellow” is one of my favorite Coldplay songs and one of my favorite songs, period. It’s one of the first songs I learned to play acoustically and one of the first songs I played with a full band.
The song can be interpreted in many ways…
And, more than likely, it was worded vaguely on purpose. The most likely interpretation is someone singing of their devotion and love for their partner. It’s about comparing their love of nature and the stars to their significant other in the most complimentary fashion.
Despite another possible meaning, this is a song you newlyweds can get on board with for that first dance.
It was released in 2000 from the immensely popular album, Parachutes. The single was a big hit and sold over four million copies. The album was an even bigger hit and sold 13 million copies. It also won a host of awards, including a Grammy in 2002 for the Best Alternative Music Album.
Stand by Me by Ben E. King
This is a beautiful old guitar love song stretching back over 60 years. It was first released in 1961 and was written as a collaboration between Ben. E King, Jerome Leiber, and Michael Stoller.
It appeared as the seventh track on the album, Don’t Play That Song, which was released in the same year. The initial release saw strong sales and high chart positions around the world.
In 1986, it was re-released as it appeared as the main recording on the soundtrack for the movie “Stand by Me.” The exposure led to even greater sales which ultimately pushed the single to sales of over three million copies.
A Soul and R&B combination…
It is a relatively simple arrangement that’s based on four chords. The most prominent instruments are the guitar and double bass, which provides a constant beat. The song ultimately builds to a crescendo with the introduction of violins towards the end.
The subject of the song concerns enduring commitment and love between people. The 1961 release would probably lead you to think this was between a married couple. However, following the release of the movie, it’s easy to see that this could also be interpreted as the love between close friends.
Don’t Let Me Down by The Beatles
This was released in 1969 and was one of their last recordings before they split for good the following year on April the 10th, 1970.
The song featured on the flip side of the smash hit single, “Get Back.” Even more surprisingly, “Don’t Let Me Down” wasn’t included on the album, Let it Be. Apparently, at the time, it was down to a decision from Phil Spector.
It’s hard to gauge the popularity of “Don’t Let Me Down.” But, “Get Back” made it to #1 in over 5,000 countries and sold four and half million copies. It’s probably fair to say that a lot of that success can be attributed to the incredible B-side.
This is a touching guitar love song to John Lennon’s then-girlfriend, Yoko Ono. It fully expresses Lennon’s emotions as he lays himself open and exposes his vulnerability for all to see. In return, he pleads with Ono to not let him down. A very moving song.
Heaven by Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams has a history of writing some top guitar love songs. The most well-known is the monster hit, “(Everything I Do) I do it For You,” which was released in 1991. “Heaven” is lesser known but still an excellent love song.
It was initially written in 1983 and appeared as a track on the album, A Night in Heaven Soundtrack. A year later, it was also included on Reckless. The single hit #1 in the US and achieved gold record status in the US and UK. “Reckless” also hit the top spot and sold over 12 million records worldwide.
The song is a fantastic Rock power ballad. The quality of Bryan Adams’s voice holds the song together beautifully, and he conveys the emotions of the lyrics in an authentic way. Together, with a superb solo, it’s easy to see why this was such a successful guitar love song.
Always on my Mind by Elvis Presley
I had to include a song by Elvis. The only problem is which one to pick. I could have just as easily opted for “I Can’t Help Falling in Love (With You)” or “And I Love You So.” However, on reflection, I thought “Always on my Mind” was a better choice for a top guitar love songs playlist.
It was released by Elvis in 1973, although, by this time, it had already been recorded by two other artists. It was initially released and recorded by Gwen McCrae on March the 28th, 1972. Then more famously, by Brenda Lee in June of the same year.
Elvis released his version in October…
Not surprisingly, it enjoyed much more commercial success than the previous two. However, what was a little surprising is that it got to #9 in the UK, which was a higher position than in the US at #16.
It wasn’t included on an album at the time and also came as a B-side to “Separate Ways.” It seems a strange decision since “Always on my Mind” was a much stronger and better song. One of the possible explanations is that the song was rushed out and tagged onto “Separate Ways.”
Why do I think this?
Because it came out just weeks after Elvis split from his wife, Priscilla, it’s more than possible that this was a hasty apology and tribute to her as a means to build bridges and win her back.
The real reason for the timing of the song’s release will never be known. Despite this, the strong message of love, appreciation, and importance of the subject in the singer’s life is abundantly clear. It’s a great song and an absolute classic to end the list.
Searching for More Love Songs?
We can help. Take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Long Distance Relationship Songs, the Best Songs About Falling In Love, the Best Love Songs For Him, the Best Songs About Crushes, and the Top Songs About Unrequited Love for amazing song selections.
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Top Guitar Love Songs – Final Thoughts
So, there you have it. I’m sure you’ll agree that a love song played with a guitar or guitars can be a powerful combination.
Hopefully, one or two of the best guitar love songs on the list got your emotions going. It was great to be able to include some of my personal favorites, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey.
Until next time, happy listening.