Lester Cohen, WireImage
The mother of the modern Valentine card is Esther A. Howland, who began making by hand and selling the first mass-marketed Valentines in America. Her love notes were made with lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as scrap. Today more than one billion Valentine cards are sent each year, with women purchasing about 85 percent of all Valentine's card sold.
Of course, a fair number of handmade cards with just the right sentiment are also delivered each February 14 and that includes those sent and received by your favorite country stars. The Boot plays Cupid and uncovers some of their thoughts on Valentine's Day, Valentine traditions and the ever-popular subject of love.
Miranda Lambert, who became Mrs. Blake Shelton last year: "I'm not a love song person. I always have one or two, but, you know, because I am in love, and I have been in love, whether my heart's broken at the time or not. I lean more toward the sad song and the cheatin' song and the revenge songs. I don't know why, just because I guess that's the songs that I love, that's the songs I want to write. But being married, too, makes me feel a whole new responsibility as a woman. I'm a little bit more grown-up and I need to sort of embrace this part of my life and know that now I have a family of my own."
Alan Jackson, who has been married to his wife, Denise, since 1979: "We've got a lot of history together now, and we're happier than we've ever been. Denise is still beautiful, and she's always inspired songs. I mean, one of my early hits was a song called 'I'd Love You All Over Again,' I wrote for her for our tenth anniversary. There's been a zillion songs that have pieces of our good days and bad days inspired, and they continue to."
Darius Rucker, who married wife Beth in 2000: "I don't know what it was about her. I mean, it was EVERYTHING about her. I knew, I told her I was going to marry her on our first date. Beth's a strong woman. It takes a strong woman to be married to a musician, especially a musician who was drinking and partying as hard as I was, and I think life for us is where we are now. It took a long time for us to get to where we are now, and we say to each other all the time, 'I love us. I love our family. I love us.' And I thank her every day for staying with me and being the strong woman she is, because with Hootie & the Blowfish, I could be gone for three months and then I'd come home for two days and then I'd be gone again for a month, and she put up with all that crap. You know, her and country music saved my life."
Dierks Bentley, who married wife Cassidy in 2005 and now has two children with her: "You get married and that's a long-term, bigger image of what love can be. Then you have a child, and your heart gets spread so thin and it's so vulnerable. It's a really tough, tough feeling, and it can kill you. It can really be painful at times, and at the same time, it's so great. But it definitely stretches your heart. It doesn't change anything, it just makes your heart ... it just makes it bigger. I think you just find that you can love more than you ever thought you could before."
Keith Urban, who married actress Nicole Kidman in June 2006: "For me, I think a lot of it has to do with just staying present. When we start relationships, we're so capable of honoring each other at the beginning of a relationship with cards and flowers and chocolates and attention and affection and priority. Then all of that, all too many times, starts to drift away, and it drifts away because it's easy at the beginning. It just happens naturally. You're almost overdoing it sometimes in the beginning."
Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley, who eloped with wife Cassie nearly three years ago: "Obviously, what we usually write about revolves around love. We don't know how to change the world. We write about love lost and love gained. Right now, we're all in a really good spot."
Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman, who married her husband, Stephen, in 2006 after losing her first husband to a heart attack in 2005: "I wasn't planning on falling in love, at all. I didn't want to ... I wasn't sure that I ever would. My husband now and I were just really good friends, and after my late husband died all my friends were calling me, all the time. Just checking up on me. He was just an old friend. We had known each other for about six years and he started calling me just like everybody else did. But, he started calling me more than everybody else did [laughs]. We had both been through similar losses, he hadn't lost a mate but he had lost a close friend, so we kind of bonded over that. I was shocked, I remember when I first realized that I was having feelings. I just thought, OK, this is so weird. What is this? I haven't felt this in a long, long, time. But, eventually I allowed myself and it's been the most beautiful gift of my life. It pulled me out of the deepest hole that I've ever been in and healed me."
Little Big Town's Jimi Westbrook, who married bandmate Karen Fairchild in May 2006: "We were in the band a long time before there was ever anything between Karen and I, which is interesting. I think there was always something underlying there that we were kind of trying to ignore. Then when the opportunity came ... all of us ended up single kind of at the same time, which was a very strange turn of events for the band in a lot of different ways. She has a beautiful heart and she's absolutely gorgeous and I just love her dearly."
Little Big Town's Phillip Sweet, who married wife Rebecca in 2007: "I think everything that I had gone through before had prepared me to be ready to see that there was genuine love there for me and my Rebecca. So, it was just a great time, I wouldn't have been ready before I met her. Now it's just been a really great journey to heal through the past and to know real love."
Chris Young: "This is not mine, but this is a buddy of mine, and I thought this was the funniest line I've ever heard. He used it on a bartender one time and it worked. He walked up to her, and he's like, 'Look, you're pretty much the hottest woman in here, and I'm pretty much the least attractive guy. You're my only shot at having average-looking kids. Can I get your number?'"
Jake Owen: "I'm very romantic. I mean, it oozes out of me. Seriously, I buy t-shirts in the shapes of hearts. That's the only thing that fits me. I'm one big heart. I give love."
Josh Thompson: "I'm usually a delivered-flowers kind of guy. You know, have 'em show up at the work so that the other people that didn't get flowers can be envious. Then, when they get home, I usually like to have dinner ready. And me waiting in a sexy apron with a little red ribbon tied around my neck."
Eric Church (who married wife Katherine in 2008): "True love to me is when you love a person in spite of all their fallibility, and for me, I have a lot of 'em. I'm definitely at times hard to love, and that's what's great about Katherine and the way she loves me. She loves me in spite of those things and really for those things. That's what's so neat; it's not getting around those things, that's a part of who the person is and it can be challenging at times."
Wade Bowen: "Shelby and I always laugh about it 'cause we just don't really care anything about Valentine's Day. But I do think there's a given that you have to give flowers to your wife on Valentine's Day. I remember one time I wasn't gonna be home -- I'm rarely home on Valentine's Day -- so I actually hid everything in a closet. It was right when we were first married. I called and told her to go and look in this place and she was really surprised that I actually did that. So, that's about as romantic as I'll get probably."
Jerrod Niemann: "I had a girlfriend that was putting pressure on to kind of take it to the next level. And we had had some issues, and my problem was, if we couldn't work out these issues, then taking something to the next level would just be a big ol' Band-Aid, and now we were one more step into this, with the same problems. We just didn't see eye to eye on that. So she kind of gave me an ultimatum, and said, 'Hey, if we're not engaged by this time, I'm moving to Atlanta.' I kind of called her bluff, and then she said, 'Then I'll move to Chicago,' and I called her bluff, and then it was Seattle ... I was like, 'Yeah, yeah,' and then it was India. I was like, 'India?! What? If you're not gonna move to Atlanta, you're certainly not gonna move to India.' So she moved to India."