Look, we get it: Valentine’s Day isn’t everybody’s favorite holiday. And that’s perfectly okay. But it’s also perfectly okay to love it, too — and equally understandable to flip-flop on the matter every time it comes around depending on whatever your current circumstances happen to be. Maybe you always thought you hated Valentine’s Day in the past, but this year, lo and behold, you just happen to be all hopped up on warm fuzzies and high on the glow of newfound love (or at least lust) with a partner who unabashedly feels the same about you. Cupid isn’t always the most dependable of matchmaking cherubs, but every now and again his aim is true, and when his arrow hits you just right, without warning you can go from the guy or girl who can’t stand love songs to the guy or girl who can’t get enough love songs to, yes, the guy or girl who finds themselves maybe even trying to write their own love songs. And if that happens to be you this Feb. 14, embrace the moment (and that special someone) for dear life and savor every second.
And if that’s not you this year? Well … just know you’re not alone. Even if you are alone. So very, very alone.
Sigh. Where were we? Oh yes: Love songs! Specifically, Texas love songs. There’s at least a million or so of them out there, but we’ve cherry picked 31 of them for your consideration as you painstakingly piece together your own mix tape for the object of your affection or, worst case scenario, to DJ your own pity party.
Admittedly, our playlist here leans more to the feel-good side of love, opening with songs from Slaid Cleaves, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hayes Carll and Pat Green (his brand new single, “Miles and Miles of You,” penned by Jon Randall) that’ll put a spring in your step or smile on your face like when the first piece of chocolate plucked from a heart-shaped box just happens to be one of your favorites. A little later on, things escalate from sweet and warm to downright steamy with offerings from Gary Clark Jr., Amanda Shires and, especially, Leon Bridges’ (“Sho’ Nuff,” indeed) tailor-made for you-know-what. After that, it’s time to bask in the afterglow and take stock of just how damned lucky and/or blessed you are to know love at all, be it brand new and still under warranty or road-tested with a lifetime of up-and-down miles on the odometer — the kind of grateful, big-picture reflection perfectly soundtracked here by the likes of Lyle Lovett, Terri Hendrix, Rodney Crowell and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.
“But wait,” some of you might protest, “you said there’d be songs the rest of us, too! What about all of us who just got dumped or divorced or rejected for the umpteenth time by the man or woman we’ve loved unrequited for so long that we’ve forgotten what it even feels like to be loved in return, let alone wanted by anyone other than the ungrateful cat that only needs us to open their food?” Rest assured we haven’t forgotten you: Just jump all the way down the playlist to the Randy Rogers Band’s wistful “Meet Me Tonight,” then let Robert Earl Keen and the Old 97’s buy you another couple of rounds to nurse your aching heart to sleep. But before you call it a lonely night, be sure to stick around for Kelly Willis’ “What I Deserve.” It’ll probably hurt, a lot, but give it a chance and it just might comfort your shaken soul, too.