The Rolling Stones (1971)
Keith Richards has claimed it's actually about the joy and pain of life on the road. Even so, the song perfectly captures what it's like to love anyone or anything against your better judgment.
Sweet Child O' Mine
Guns N' Roses (1988)
It begins with Slash making sweet love to his Les Paul. Then Axl Rose starts rough-rhapsodizing about his baby's blue eyes and pretty smile. The lyrics read like they were written by a high school boy who can't stop carving his girlfriend's name into the bleachers. It's a perfect tribute to the young, messy, all-absorbing feeling that makes you want to punch a hole in the wall as you scream your undying love.
All I Want Is You
The only reason to own Rattle and Hum is this plea to a weary longtime lover: Let's both move past all this crazy b.s., 'cuz all I want is you. Arguably U2's prettiest moment.
In Your Eyes
Peter Gabriel (1986)
Inextricably linked to Say Anything..., ''Eyes'' has become a Gen-X anthem. But no matter how old you are, that bass line, those drums, and that ache in Gabriel's voice add up to one gut-wrenching confessional.
Maybe I'm Amazed
Paul McCartney (1970)
Maybe we love it for how beautifully humble it is, as McCartney confesses that being in love can be scary. Or maybe it's just the way those majestic background vocals kick in and Sir Paul's voice goes all ragged with emotion. Either way, it's amazing.
Ring of Fire
Johnny Cash (1963)
The Man in Black's mariachi-tinged masterpiece dares to tell the truth: Love doesn't tickle, it burns, burns, burns with an exquisite agony most of us including Cash's wife, June Carter, who co-wrote the song couldn't live without.
When a Man Loves a Woman
Percy Sledge (1966)
It may have unjustly lost some gravitas thanks to its association with Michael Bolton, but how could anyone deny this glorious original with so poignant a finale, when Sledge's wrenching wail heralds a romantic surrender amidst a subdued explosion of horns?
Etta James (1961)
It's not the first rendition of this 1942 tune, but Etta's is the finest, thanks to a strong, sensual delivery that says (or is it shouts?) I deserve this! No wonder every bride on earth thinks it was written just for her.
You Send Me
Sam Cooke (1957)
If heaven exists, this song is playing there. Cooke caresses notes (''You-ou-ou-ou [sigh] thrill me'') with a voice so smooth and light, the song threatens to float away.
These Arms of Mine
Otis Redding (1962)
The King of Soul. The Love Man. The Guy Who Could Control His Yearning and Burning for Approximately 1 Min. and 43 Sec. Partway through this scorcher, he lets loose, resulting in one of his most passionate performances.
The Righteous Brothers (1965)
Reportedly covered almost 700 times, this version remains The One, thanks to the grand sweep of Bobby Hatfield's vocal. So what if the lyrics are a little gloomy: It still sounds like love to us.