I remember hearing this song when I was really young and thinking, “Jeez, this is soo sad.”
I was only eight when Bonnie Raitt’s original was played endlessly on the radio, so that feeling of sadness came mostly from the slow melody and the longing in her voice.
It wasn’t until after my first real heartbreak that this song hit me like a gut-punch. It wasn’t until the first time I looked in the eyes of someone who used to love me but who didn’t anymore that I fully understood everything Raitt was trying to express.
And suddenly, this sad song from my childhood became a staple on my soundtrack to heart ache.
I mean, have you read these lyrics?
“Turn down the lights
Turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me
Tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don’t patronize
Don’t patronize me
‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t”
I’ve heard some beautiful covers of this song over the years. But last night, I came across a video on Instagram that introduced me to the soulful voice of Teddy Swims and his rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
It’s so perfect it just might make your heart ache:
When it comes to Swims, I’m a little late to the game considering his covers have been huge on YouTube since back in 2019. And it’s clear why. His vocal style is simple but has so much power and feeling behind it. And that gravely tone doesn’t hurt either.
Here are two more covers of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that always pull at my heart:
And Bonnie Raitt’s original, for anyone who hasn’t heard this gem:
Which version is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.
“Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing…” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert