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Boomer Barnburners: You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling by the Righteous Brothers

Songfacts®:

  • According to BMI music publishing, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” was played on American radio and television more times than any other song in the 20th century. It got over 8 million plays from the time it was released until 2000. Note that this includes all versions of the song, not just The Righteous Brothers’.
  • The husband-and-wife songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote this song at the request of Phil Spector, who was looking for a hit for an act he had just signed to his Philles label: The Righteous Brothers.

    The title “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” was just a placeholder until they could think of something better, but Spector thought it was great so they went with it. With most of the song written, 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…”).

  • Phil Spector produced this song using his famous “Wall of Sound” recording technique. Spector got a songwriting credit on the track, as he usually demanded one around this time and had the clout to get it. Cynthia Weil has said that Spector never really wrote, but instead “inspired” songs.
  • Bill Medley recalls spending about eight hours working with Spector on the vocal for this song. It was a tedious process since they had to record over previous takes in order to put down a new one. 
  • Phil Spector was determined to make this his finest production to date, and wanted it to be better than anything released by current top producers like Berry Gordy, George Martin, Andrew Loog Oldham, and Brian Wilson. He chose the Righteous Brothers for their tremendous vocal talents and enlisted his old Jazz guitar idol Barney Kessel to play on the song. Other musicians to play on the track included Los Angeles session pros Carol Kaye (acoustic guitar), Earl Palmer (drums), and Ray Pohlman (bass). Cher, who did a lot of work with Spector early in her career, can also be heard on background vocals near the end of the song. Spector was the first major West Coast producer to make the musicians wear headphones, so when they heard the song, they heard it with all the processing he added, which in this case meant a lot of echo. This got the musicians out of their comfort zones and made them work together to get a sound that gelled. It took more time to record this way, but Spector didn’t mind: while a typical 3-hour session would produce about four songs, Spector would spend an entire session working on one track, leaving a few minutes at the end to record a throwaway B-side jam.

 

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Terry November 19, 2020, 10:11 AM

    This is one of my favorite all time pieces. Thank you for posting Gerard.

  • Callmelennie November 19, 2020, 10:47 AM

    And here’s an Islamo-slum burner from the “Brotherhood of Righteousness” entitled “You’ve Lost That Muslim Feeling”

    You never shout Akbar anymore when you take a head
    And there’s no righteous joy in your face when you stone girls dead
    You’re trying to hard to taqqiy-it
    But Shahid, Shahid, I see it
    You’ve lost that Muslim feeling
    Wallah, that Muslim feeling
    Get back that Muslim feeling
    Or you’re gone .. gone .. gone (Kull wa’il)*

    Now there’s no frenzied look in your eyes when you speak of Jews
    And Bro, you’re starting to agonize about things we do
    It makes me just feel like crying
    Cause Shahid, something brutal is dying
    You’ve lost that Muslim feeling
    Wallah, that Muslim feeling
    Bring back that muslim feeling
    Or you’re gone .. gone .. gone (kull wa’il)

    Hajii, Hajii I prostrate on the ground today
    So he wont hafta shoot you .. like a old dog today
    You had a skill .. a skill .. a skill you dont find every day
    Let’s go .. go .. go .. go — slit a few throats today

    Remaining repetitive stuff here

    https://thepeoplescube.com/peoples-karaoke/you-ve-lost-that-muslim-feeling-t14812.html

    *(Actual, certifiably 100% genuine Arab lamentation)

  • tim November 19, 2020, 11:20 AM

    A little more contemporary and rocking version with a couple of legends –

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wetnCyjt2f4

  • Gagdad Bob November 19, 2020, 11:24 AM

    Bobby Hatfield supposedly complained to Spector about what he was supposed to do on stage while Medley sang the bulk of the song: “Shut up and count your money.”

  • azlibertarian November 19, 2020, 12:57 PM

    Ahem. I hate to mention this….really, I do….but you didn’t include possibly the best performance of this song ev-ar.

    https://youtu.be/CFT0jGibz80

    You’re welcome.

  • Chris November 19, 2020, 3:55 PM

    Hucking Fippies

  • Anne November 19, 2020, 4:57 PM

    nuh-uh. THE BEST ever and probably longest lasting, and most certainly most frequently played by these two is this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYj2hex99gY
    Skip the ads and ENJOY!

  • Auntie Analogue November 19, 2020, 8:37 PM

    Back in the heyday of Top-40 AM radio, and ever since then in so many media, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” was one of the most over-played records, to the point at which, today, I still can’t stand to hear it.

    But there’s nothing like that heyday of Top-40 AM radio, whose disc jockeys’ extemporaneous motor-mouth patter made sure there was never any dead air.

    Another feature of those days is that records were engineered to sound their best over AM, non-stereo radios, because that was the prevalent medium – and that was where Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” shone. In fact most of the records engineered for AM radio play don’t sound as good as they sounded over AM radio. Something about amplitude modulation made those records sound fabulous, and one superb example of that is Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue,” which always sounds best over a non-stereo AM radio. Another example is the Surfaris’ “Wipe Out.” To be honest, to me almost all of the Top-40 records up to the late-1960’s sounded better over the AM band – try it out for yourself: find an AM oldies station and enjoy!

  • Gordon Scott November 19, 2020, 9:14 PM

    Auntie A, Buck Owens was legendary for his mixing booth. It was filled with stock car radio speakers. You know, the mono in the dashboard cheap speakers that most cars came with. He mixed all his songs to sound their best on AM radio.

    I’m told that most of the Beatles recordings before 1968 or so were recorded in monoaural, since most people didn’t have a stereo system. Allegedly these songs sound their best played in a monoaural system and the “stereoized” versions have issues. I confess I have not noticed.

  • M. Murcek November 20, 2020, 4:27 AM

    For decades I heard the expression “Wall of Sound” and thought “yeah, yeah, I know…” but really, in detail, I didn’t know. This article cleared it up for me:

    https://www.wikiaudio.org/wall-of-sound/#:~:text=The%20Wall%20of%20Sound%20is%20a%20music%20production,AM%20radio%20and%20jukeboxes%20popular%20in%20the%20era.

  • Dave Jenkins November 20, 2020, 5:05 AM

    Nice, but Ive been in more of a Clash mood lately for some reason…

  • Jack November 20, 2020, 8:47 AM

    Auntie A, good comment but I challenge you for the most over played song, ev’uh.

    I break into hives and throw up every time I hear Leonard Cohen’s “hallelujah”. The only decent version of the tune was played by Jeff Buckley but that wasn’t enough for the ba-jillion wannabe pop crooners who thought to themselves…..

    “Gee, what a cool song even though I don’t understand a thing about it. I think I’ll cover it and release it on YT”…..

    As for YLTLF, I quit on that one when Tom Cruise ruined it in Top Gun. Cruise couldn’t carry a tune if he had corrective throat and and palate surgery and his director simply wouldn’t shut him up.

  • Jim in Oxford November 20, 2020, 11:50 AM

    I remember hanging a little AM transistor radio on my bicycle handlebars, to accomplish two things: to listen to so much great music, and to be more like all those cool folks in their cars who had their radios blasting. I was 13 years old when this song came out, and it whammied me to ponder “Boy, is this what it’s like to be an adult?”

    Adolescence is nothing if not about being a legend in one’s own mind. It’s almost heartbreaking now to think what a time of innocence that really was . . .

  • Gordon Scott November 21, 2020, 7:36 AM

    Tom Cruise and the director knew what they were doing. There were techniques to amp up Tom’s voice. They didn’t use them because it was a better scene with Tom belting it out poorly. Kelly McGillis’ character may have given him the indifferent eye, but girls like being called out, and it made the scene believable.

    This was to be Tom’s breakout movie, and it succeeded. Whatever weirdness he drags with him, the guy can fill up the screen.

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