The Heart of Bluegrass – Your Valentine’s Day Playlist

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It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, when thoughts turn to love and romance, chocolate and roses, and bluegrass? As beautiful as bluegrass is, it isn’t typically associated with romantic music. That said, I set out to put together a playlist of romantic bluegrass tunes for Valentine’s Day. My goal for this playlist was to include only songs that spoke of happy love–no murder ballads, no mourning lovers, no tear-stained pillows.

Little did I know how difficult this task was going to be. After all, songs about faithless lovers, weeping willows, dying love, and women who won’t marry are the heart of bluegrass. “Happily ever after” isn’t the most popular theme of the genre.
For example, searching, typing in lonely in the site search turns up about 190 songs with lonely in the title or lyrics. The word lonesome turns up about the same number. Sad is included in about 170 songs (though I imagine there may be a lot of overlap between sad and lonesome…).
Of course, it’s not as simple as saying that bluegrass is mostly about unhappiness. The story lines are sometimes both complex and confused. A man happy in love loses out; a lonely woman dreams fondly of her love across the sea. This is wonderfully captured in the song “Happy or Lonesome,” with the lyric: “Are you still happy I wonder, or do you feel lonesome, too?” Whether you’re happy or lonesome this Valentine’s Day, there’s something for every mood in bluegrass… actually, there’s a whole lot more if you’re lonesome.
Here is the playlist of 39 songs, which will get you through a little short of two hours. I’ve added in a few pretty instrumentals to stretch it out.
Some of these songs may be a little more obscure–“Love at First Light” by Newfound Road (2004) has a sweet message and a sweet fiddle backup, too. “My Honey Lou” is an old Carter Family tune; the version included here is a cover by Kathy Kallick Band.
A Good Woman’s Love, Del McCoury
Alabama Waltz, Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms
Bald Knob, Arkansas, Vern Williams
Beautiful Moon of Kentucky (with the Virginia Boys), Jim & Jesse
Before I Met You, Lester Flatt
Claire Dechutes, Dirk Powell and John Hermann
Down the Road, The Bluegrass Album Band
Eight More Miles to Louisville, Sam Bush
Festival Waltz, Kenny Baker
Fine as Fine Can Be, Tony Rice
Gardenia Waltz, Bobby Hicks
Gentle on My Mind, John Hartford
Give Me Your Love and I’ll Give You Mine, Mother Maybelle Carter
Golden Fiddle Waltz, Fiddlin’ Johnny
Good Woman’s Love, Tony Rice
Happy or Lonesome, Steve Ledford & The Mountaineers
Hit Parade of Love, Rhonda Vincent
I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby, Charlie Louvin
I Told Them All About You, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
I Wouldn’t Change You If I Could, Ricky Skaggs
I’ll Love Nobody but You, Jim & Jesse
I’ll Love You ’til The Day I Die, Longview
Let the Whole World Talk, The Johnson Mountain Boys
Love at First Light, Newfound Road
Mountain Girl, Sideline
My Cabin in Caroline, The Osborne Brothers
My Honey Lou, Kathy Kallick Band
My Sweet Blue Eyed Darlin’, Bill Monroe
Ocean of Diamonds, Jimmy Martin
Old Flames, The Lonesome Sisters
Perfect Love, Ronnie Bowman
Please Remember That I Love You, The Reno Brothers
Rose of My Heart, IIIrd Tyme Out
Still They Call Me Love, The Grascals
The Winding Stream, The Carter Family
Waltz Across Texas, Ernest Tubb
When Silver Threads Are Gold Again, The Carter Family
When You Say Nothing at All, Alison Krauss & Union Station
You’ve Been a Friend to Me, Mike Seeger
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