Y is for You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’

Cynthia Weil, Barry Mann, and Phil Spector wrote ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’ for The Righteous Brothers who were made up of the duo Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield.  Spector got a songwriting credit on the track, which was customary back in the day, even when he didn’t contribute any more than providing inspiration, but on this one he actually helped with the end of this song.  The Righteous Brothers had a lot of vocal talent and their singing style became dubbed as “blue-eyed soul”.   In September of 1963, Bobby and Bill were part of a rock and roll review show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco that was produced by Phil Spector.  The Righteous Brothers had been cutting their records at Gold Star Studios, which was Spector’s base of operations, and once he caught their act, and heard their voices, he was sold.  Before signing with Spector, the duo had some minor hits on the Moonglow label, including ‘Little Latin Lupe Lu’ (#49) and ‘My Babe’ (#75).  Spector made a call to Ray Maxwell who owned Moonglow Records and offered a deal to lease the remainder of the Righteous Brothers contract, which Moonglow accepted.

When Phil Spector signed The Righteous Brothers into his label, Philles Records, he wanted a song that would fit their blue-eyed soul style, so he commissioned the husband-and-wife songwriting team Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to write a hit for them.  Spector flew the couple to Los Angeles and checked them into the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood where Barry Mann and Phil Spector sang ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’ for them, and this ballad was very different from the other music that were doing at this time.  When the Righteous Brothers first heard the song, they didn’t think it would fit their style.

Barry Mann said that they were inspired to write ‘Lovin’ Feelin’’ from the Four Tops song ‘Baby I Need Your Loving’.  The production of the song went through many hours of experimentation, retakes, and studio time before it was recorded and released.  The song changed dramatically because they were trying to find the right key and this song has a pretty huge range to it.  Mann came up with the opening line, “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips”, which was influenced by the line “I love how your eyes close whenever you kiss me” that was in the 1961 song which he co-wrote, ‘I Love How You Love Me’ which became a Top 5 for The Paris Sisters.

They lowered the key and slowed down the song which changed the whole vibe.  The recording took more than 39 takes with Medley and Bobby Hatfield singing each verse over and over again.  Spector used his famous “Wall of Sound” technique and he poured everything that he had into this recording, spending $35,000 on the single, which caused him to lose sleep, get ulcers and stressed him out for a week when that record came out, but the song turned into one of his definitive statements.

Bill Medley spent about eight hours working with Spector on the vocal for this song, which was tedious, since they had to record over previous takes in order to put down a new one.  Spector was also very particular about the performances, being determined to make this his finest production to date, wanting it to be better than anything released by his contemporizes.  He chose the Righteous Brothers for their tremendous vocal talents, and enlisted his old Jazz guitar idol Barney Kessel to play on the song.  Spector used members of the Wrecking Crew and some of the other musicians to play on the track included Los Angeles session pros Carol Kaye (acoustic guitar), Earl Palmer (drums) and Ray Pohlman (bass).  Cher can be heard on background vocals near the end of the song and the Blossoms were also used as backup singers.

Spector recorded and overdubbed all of the backing tracks, spending days on the song in the studio, recording it over and over.  Spector was the first major West Coast producer to make the musicians wear headphones, a new thing at the time, so when they heard the song, they heard it with all the processing he added, which in this case meant a lot of echo.  Spector layered up their performances, again and again, so that they sounded huge, overwhelming.  One day as they were recording this, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and all kinds of other celebrities and record business giants showed up so Phil could show off his studio, but this was a distraction for Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield.  The headphones got the musicians out of their comfort zones, but it made them work together to get a sound that worked.

The title “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’ started out as a placeholder, but Spector thought it was great so they went with it.  Mann and Weil completed the song at Spector’s house, where Phil worked with them to compose the famous bridge “Baaaby… I need your love”.  When the duo had a hard time with the bridge and ending, Spector played the riff to ‘Hang On Sloopy’ by the Vibrations and developed it for the bridge.  The bridge, “We had a love!  A love!  A love you don’t find everyday!  So don’t! Don’t!  Don’t!  Don’t let it slip away!” may be about as close to pop-music perfection that you can ever get.  That great opening line, “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips”, but everyone knows that kissing with your eyes open id much more difficult.  This opening line spells trouble for this couple, like an impending storm is coming or some type of doom is encroaching.  Things get worse with the look in her eyes and her criticizing insignificant things, but in the end the guy begs her to bring back that loving feeling.  Bill Medley uses his heavy baritone to beg, plead, groan, and howl, as the music fills up the air around him, till it becomes a symphonic awakening.  This astonishing piece of music, treats lovelorn feelings with all the respect that those feelings demand.

Mann and Weil wrote the chorus but they couldn’t figure out how to end it.  Phil contributed the, “Gone, Gone, Gone, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa.”  Mann laughed and Weil replied, “Any song that has Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, can never be a big record!”  Yet, the song turned to be a giant hit.  ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’ was a success.  It dominated the US Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart, yet some people wondered if they were hearing it on the wrong speed.  Even the Righteous Brothers weren’t quite comfortable with the song and Bobby Hatfield was upset that his voice wasn’t even on the song until the chorus.   Hatfield asked Spector what he was supposed to do when Medley was singing and Spector told him, “You can go directly to the bank.”  This song sweeps you up like a wave with all of that swooshing, crashing reverb in there, it makes the listener feel like they have been set adrift, and are unable to hold off the heartbreak that’s staring right at them.

Producers would eventually figure out cleaner ways to get that sense of orchestral sweep.  According to BMI music publishing, ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’ was the most-played song of the century on American radio and television, getting over eight million spins, but this statistic includes all versions of the song, not just The Righteous Brothers version.  George Martin produced a rival version of ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ for the British singer Cilla Black.  In the UK, the Cilla Black version was released just ahead of The Righteous Brothers’ version.  Both songs charted the same week, with Black’s at #2 and The Righteous Brothers song at #3.  The song was the first Righteous Brothers release on Philles, and it shot to #1, giving both the duo and the songwriting team of Mann & Weil their first #1 hit.  It was Spector’s third #1 as a producer: he had previously hit the top spot with ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ by The Teddy Bears and ‘He’s A Rebel’ by The Crystals.  The Righteous Brothers played this to open the ceremonies when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips
And there’s no tenderness like before in your fingertips
You’re trying hard not to show it
But baby, baby I know it

You lost that lovin’ feelin’
Whoa, that lovin’ feelin’
You lost that lovin’ feelin’
Now it’s gone, gone, gone, whoa-oh

Now there’s no welcome look in your eyes when I reach for you
And now you’re starting to criticize little things I do
It makes me just feel like crying
‘Cause baby, something beautiful’s dyin’

You lost that lovin’ feelin’
Whoa, that lovin’ feelin’
You lost that lovin’ feelin’
Now it’s gone, gone, gone, whoa-oh

Baby, baby, I’d get down on my knees for you
If you would only love me like you used to do, yeah
We had a love, a love, a love you don’t find everyday
So don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t let it slip away

Baby, baby, baby, baby
I beg you please, please, please, please
I need your love, need your love
I need your love, I need your love
So bring it on back, so bring it on back
Bring it on back, bring it on back

Bring back that lovin’ feelin’
Whoa, that lovin’ feelin’
Bring back that lovin’ feelin’
‘Cause it’s gone, gone, gone
And I can’t go on, whoa-oh

Bring back that lovin’ feelin’
Whoa, that lovin’ feelin’
Bring back that lovin’ feelin’
‘Cause it’s gone, gone, gone

13 thoughts on “Y is for You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’

      1. Yea…he was great at what he did though I think he overproduced on some records…but the guy had major problem…creep is too good of a word.

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