Mar 08

10cc – “I’m Not In Love”

FT + Popular82 comments • 8,234 views

#372, 28th June 1975

“I’m Not In Love” is 10cc’s most famous song, and surely deservedly – it’s the one where their smarts crash and fragment on some vicious emotional reefs, which is also what the song’s about. So it’s a neat (conceptual) package even before you factor in the extraordinary production.

But isn’t it all a bit heavy handed? He’s not in love (but really he is) – cast your mind back a couple of number ones and wouldn’t Tammy or her husband have wrapped that old theme up in two minutes? The greatness of 10cc’s song, though, isn’t in the theme, its in the exploration of the implicate consequences of repression, of turning your back on love: the saddest moment in a sad song is the satisfaction in the singer’s voice when he lays down his stupid law: “Oh, you’ll wait a long time for me.” This isn’t a song about irony, it’s a song about crippling emotional phobia. (And the “big boys don’t cry” bit, hinting where that phobia comes from, is kind of unsubtle, but no less moving for that.)

The band wrap this song in suffocating gauze: a cold, cossetting synthesised vocal fog with the bare semblance of a beat padding underneath, often puttering out or being smothered completely. No other No.1 sounds quite like it: a brave, thoroughly apt production for a chilling record.



  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 29 Mar 2008 #

    This is clearly an astonishing single by one of my favourite acts ever. I can listen to it any amount of times and still feel drawn in and engaged. And yet…

    I’m really always responding to it as a record rather than as a song. It’s immensely pleasurable how many overdubs are welded together, and the effect that they achieve. But I don’t actually at any point really believe that the singer is in love, more preoccupied with stating his feelings in an artful manner designed to make you feel sorry for him. There’s no sense of the loved other as being a distinctive woman in her own right, I feel.

    And its not a song that I can imagine there ever being a good cover version of, though it would obviously be a great source of samples. As Tom says the “Big boys don’t cry” interpolation comes across as rather heavy handed, and the “nasty stain” verse just sounds a bit stupid, and asking for a rewrite to me.

    I’d still give it a 9 though, just for being so astonishing and enticing sonically.

  2. 2
    rosie on 29 Mar 2008 #

    Yes, it’s heavy-handed and it’s way over the top, but belongs to the kind of over-the-top emotion that’s far greater than the sum of its parts. It’s the ultimate smoocher, from a time when smooching was still respectable and you could find yourself still in the middle of the dancefloor locked in a clinch long after the music stopped, the lights came on, and everybody else was about to go off into the rain and the night and a ham fadge from the back of the bakery. (I’m not making this up, it happened to me, to precisely this track, but not for another ten years. And the strange thing is, my companion and I had been chatting amicably on a staircase and were about to go to our rooms (it was a conference, did I mention that?) and even had our raincoats on when this came on as the last record and I insisted on dancing to it.) How many liaisons have been prompted by this, I wonder? It’s endured as much for its affectiveness as for its construction, but it’s no worse constructed for that.

    But there’s something else here, something that pushes it up from a good smoocher to something rare and wonderful. It treads on dangerous ground, territory where popular music seldom dares to go. It deals with men being emotionally vulnerable. I mean, really so, not just pretending, because many popular songs pretend. A man overwhelmed by emotions which he tries in vain to fight off, and finally gives in to them with free-flowing tears. And for this woman, who knows that tears come from strength, never from weakness, a man who can do that is worth all the tough guys in the universe.

    The whispered “Big boys don’t cry” – I believe it was voice of the studio receptionist – is one of the great spine-shivering moments in all pop.

    Nine, borderline ten, from me. Cracking stuff.

  3. 3
    Lex on 29 Mar 2008 #

    My interpretation of the original is a bit different – because it’s in the second person, it really doesn’t strike me as a meditation on his own feelings. It’s more a manipulative series of weasel words designed to duck out of any emotional commitment to the object (ie the listener): he describes the situation and to all intents and purposes the protagonists are a couple, but this a refusal to acknowledge it – “oh, just because we sleep together and call each other it doesn’t mean we’re going out“. Basically the narrator is 1xtotal bastard, and the kind of man at whom songs like Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ are squarely aimed; and while I’m all for bastardry in pop, there’s something a bit too suffocating about the way it’s presented, a bit too obviously aimed at YOU. Which is admirable I guess, but I don’t like being made to feel the victim.

    Re: covers – in 2001 Tori Amos reimagined it as a stalkers’ soundtrack, Annie Wilkes armed with whipcrack beats and some really fucking eerie background clanking. It’s all about her vocal though, which is all the more unhinged for its restraint. And the ‘nasty stain’ line is the climax of this version. http://youtube.com/watch?v=8uEImGFRkgY

  4. 4
    Lex on 29 Mar 2008 #

    (ie, I actually believe 10cc dude when he says he’s not in love! he’s too self-centred to be in love, but he wants to carry on seeing this girl for the benefits. whereas Tori’s narrator is not in love because she’s an obsessed psycho stalker.)

  5. 5
    crag on 29 Mar 2008 #

    Sometimes incorrectly lumped in, due to its appearance on numerous “Greatest Love Songs” compilations over the years, with vaguely contemperaneous hits such as “If You Leave Me Now” and “All By Myself” as a precursor to the “power ballad”, “I’m Not in Love”is, in fact, a truly pivotal single, historically sitting perfectly at the mid point of the 70’s, displaying as it does the influence of the pop decade preceeding it while simultaneously pointing toward the innovations of the future. It’s a record that is utterly timeless but also completely of it’s time and clearly could not have been produced in any other point in pop history before or after.

    One of the last charttoppers by musicians who, like Bowie, Bolan, Stardust, Glitter etc, were notable for having served a long apprenticeship playing in and (in the case of 10cc) writing for various pop acts in the 1960s before achieving their own success, perhaps the musical innovations of that period are, perhaps unsuprisingly a clear inspiration on the groups sound as a result, in particular the “harmony pop” of the Beach Boys, Turtles and others. This is most obvious on the almost doo-wop stylings of later singles like the “The Things We Do for Love” but the influence is clear on INIL too, the famous “choral” effect covering the track with a translucent gauze containing distinct echoes of “Our Prayer” from the Beach Boys “Smile” and the Beatles “Because” amongst others.

    However, INIL’s production has none of the warmth of the tracks mentioned above. Instead, perfectly complimenting its narrator’s nihlistic romantic viewpoint the track has a glacial, almost numb sound, within which can also be heard roots of so-called “sonic cathederals” of the early 80’s such as Japan’s “Ghosts” and Ultravox’s “Vienna” and even Martin Hannett’s work with Joy Division. No doubt a “soft rock” act such as 10cc would have been viewed by post-punk practitioners as the epitome of “old fartdom”. Nonetheless, a great production is a great production no matter what and, to these ears, the influence, albeit symbiotic, is undeniable, the throughline even continuing into the ambient, shoegazing and trip-hop movements of the 90s, not to mention REM’s (acknowledged) rip-off of INIL’s vocal sound on “Fuck Me Kitten” on “Automatic for the People”.

    The adjecive everyone always uses when describing 10cc is “clever” and it’s just as appropriate when discussing this track. However unlike the wonderful but sometimes somewhat smug or shallow (“clever-clever”) pop satire of much of their other work- as exemplarised by the title of their later hit “Art for Art’s Sake”- INIL is a genuinely smart piece of work, utilising the band’s obvious talent and intelligence to create a real avant-pop masterpiece, its musical innovations and lyrical twists breaking new ground. Revealing new depths in both sound and meaning with each passing year and posessing a real melodic and emotional punch, this has to be a 10 out of 10 for me.

  6. 6
    Rob M on 29 Mar 2008 #

    As a side note to Crag at 5, don’t forget that Martin Hannett’s work with Joy Division was mainly done at Strawberry Studios, set up and used by 10CC in Stockport, and where “I’m not in love” was recorded.

  7. 7
    Lena on 29 Mar 2008 #

    The summer of 1975: my parents and me (the whole family) are going back home to Los Angeles to visit my aunt Debbie and relieve our homesickness (my father’s mostly). We are going across the middle of the US, through Kansas…by now the tapes my father usually listens to (jazz only, he hates pop) have all been played at least once, and since we are going through tornado-prone territory, he turns on the radio instead, for the weather updates…because you never know.

    So then: a warm day in Kansas. The road is flat, the sky is huge and full of clouds, the land is wide and mostly flat, a few hills here and there…and the radio is on. I have nothing to do but listen and look out the window…

    …and this song comes on, though it sounds more like it is emanating from the speakers…like fog or a bank of clouds…it’s not in a hurry, and it seems to just *be there* and then it grows in intensity, surrounding the listener (me, my mom perhaps, I’m sure my father’s tuned out, so to speak)…much as the expansive horizon of farms and fields is suddenly there once you leave town…it dips gently back and forth, in a way that portends something uneasy and permanent…

    And then the voice – quiet but defiant, scared and scary. I hadn’t heard anything like the music, nor the voice, and certainly not the lyrics. This was something new – a song where the guy says “I’m not in love”? A song that could be called uneasy listening? Usually love songs were either dramatically happy or sad, but this was in the middle, or maybe I should say it was beyond anything I’d ever heard…

    …and of course at age eight I didn’t understand the lyrics at all (same with Alice Cooper’s “Only Women Bleed”). I’m sure I only caught some of what was being said the first time, amazed by the sound of the song – weightless, almost aimless, but there. It didn’t get to #1 in the US (“Sister Golden Hair” by America was ruling the charts at the time) but it was a big enough hit to stay on the radio for some time, out of sheer difference – there was nothing like it or even close to it…

    …and he sings about not being in love as if he either once was (but it didn’t get him anywhere) OR as if he knows very well what he feels isn’t love in any sane sense OR as if he wishes he was in love but he can’t love – why I don’t know, he just can’t…I’m sure as an eight-year-old I must have been puzzled at why someone who claims not to be in love is so bossy – he’s telling her to think this, don’t think that – but there were a lot of things I didn’t know then, but would find out about soon enough, about what could best be called inappropriate male attention. Some of it was relatively harmless and some of it was definitely damaging; I’ve never been stalked but it has to be one of the creepiest things a woman can experience, and this is the voice of the stalker…

    …and the music surrounds and envelops him as he tells her she’ll wait a long time for him…and her voice echoes back in his mind (for the longest time I couldn’t figure out what she was saying, I thought she was saying ‘be poised and quiet’ which describes the song more than the singer, who has clearly lost it and most certainly isn’t quiet)…

    10cc most certainly didn’t make it an easy song for anyone – me anyway – to figure out. I’m not sure if they made the song so icily beautiful on purpose, to distract the listener from what was being said, or whether that chill was put in to go along with the lyrics, lyrics where everything he says to her are really more about himself and his own emotional paralysis…

    …the song ends with one more ambiguous but very believable “I’m not in love” and the clouds of aaahs increase, the synths call and response is static and could well go on forever, and the ending sounds like a steadily increasing snowfall, obliterating any distinctions between the sky and ground…

  8. 8
    crag on 29 Mar 2008 #

    hey Rob(#6), i didnt know that- makes sense.thanks for the info

  9. 9
    Tom on 29 Mar 2008 #

    Apocryphally the story is that this one song secured 10cc a monster deal – so while it may have been shocking/groundbreaking it’s also testimony to the record biz’ ability to spot an instant hit: the lines between novelty and innovation as usual pretty blurred.

  10. 10
    rosie on 29 Mar 2008 #

    It’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it, the way something like this can be interpreted in such very different ways. And here’s me, convinced for the last thirty-three years that the words of this song were the utmost in irony, that the singer is in denial of emotions that threaten to overwhelm him and undermine his perceived virility (whatever will his mates think?), that however much he protests to myself (and I’ve always read the words as not being directly addressed to anybody but himself – it’s a very bleak and lonely song for a bleak and lonely feeling) he is indeed in love despite himself, and he doesn’t know how to cope with it other than by denying it and hoping it will go away. I see him in his room late at night wrestling with himself in his head. Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman may have had something entirely different in mind, but that’s the picture built when it gets inside my head.

    I’ve certainly never seen it as a creepy song, though I can see how it becomes one when sung by a woman. Is it possible that the creepy interpretation is an alternative reading that avoids issues that are quite at odds with those normally to be found in pop lyrics?

  11. 11
    Lex on 29 Mar 2008 #

    I don’t find the original creepy – perfected and well-rehearsed evasion yes, a smooth abdication of commitment which, wrapped up in gauze as it is, still fools the object into thinking it’s romantic; but the cover was deliberately creepy. I first heard them around the same time and it seems like a dialogue, almost: if the man in the original is going, “whoa, back off needy crazy girl, this is just a fling, we’re not in love, OK?”, the woman in the response is going, “I’m not in love either. But I am crazy and I will hunt you down.”

  12. 12
    Waldo on 29 Mar 2008 #

    Finally something to get our teeth into after so much rubbish. One of the decade’s finest number ones, beyond dispute. A wonderful lyric and Eric Stewart does not disgrace it with his delivery. Some may argue that the song disappears up its own arse with the “big boys don’t cry” sequence but I can’t agree. If you’re aiming at quality, it’s never wise to hold back. This was clearly a momentous project and when you have that you’re either up for it or you’re not. INIL was popular music from the top drawer by a musical troupe who always cared and whose talents could not possibly be denied. Great record, this. And we will, of course, be hearing from 10CC again anon with something equally as marvellous.

  13. 13
    Marcello Carlin on 30 Mar 2008 #

    Not too sure about that, Waldo – this may prove a case study in how the same group could be responsible for both the best and the worst number one single…

    But anyway, “I’m Not In Love” and the flipside of my summer of ’75, in Blackpool, long periods of intense internal dialogue, my parents beginning to worry about why I was acting so withdrawn. I didn’t think I was being particularly withdrawn, but usually in those situations you’re the last one to know.

    What I did feel was a readiness and impatience to put away childish things – I was now eleven-and-a-half, had just finished primary school and in August was due, with no small foreboding on my part, to start at grammar school. In hindsight – and how easy everything is to figure out in hindsight and more than three decades after the event – I really didn’t have anything to worry about since virtually all of my primary school class were coming along with me, but there were also intakes from other local primaries to take into consideration, new people, and maybe not instantly friendly people, to meet, and a dreadful sense that this was where I had to start taking life seriously. So you see the paradox already – wanting to grow up and fearing it at the same time.

    But there were other feelings to take into account, most markedly a wish to be with a partner, wanting to love and be loved, not wanting to hang out with my boyhood peers forever, much as I enjoyed doing so. A couple of girls took some scant interest in my last year at primary school but you never take these things seriously, or at least I didn’t. A continued refusal to take such things seriously would become a major obstacle as my teenage years unfolded – but then such feelings were discouraged at home; I was officially a Child Prodigy (I made the front cover of the Hamilton Advertiser in spring ’74 in a sort of where-are-they-now update and my interest in music and in particular the charts was expressly noted, but the picture showed me at my Smith-Corona typewriter, at the kitchen table, since the main thrust of the piece was my ambition to become a writer) and as such was expected to Excel and Go To Oxbridge at the cost of all other Childish Distractions, including girlfriends.

    So I was thinking deep and long about things which strictly speaking I shouldn’t have had the right to be wasting valuable time thinking about. This song in my world acted as a sort of emotional anti-barometer of self-denial; no, I said publicly to my family and my immediate world, I’m not in love, it’s just a childish phase, I’m fully aware of that – but it was total canting falsehood, since that was exactly how I felt; the desire was there, if not yet (or ever?) a partner.

    Its sonic worlds felt like another and better world to me, too, a continent of dreaming into which I could mentally flee at will if the actual world became too much for me to tolerate. I was already acutely aware of my “difference”; he writes all the time, listens to music, keeps to himself, doesn’t do sport ergo something wrong with him…

    So for me the intent behind the song didn’t matter; I fit into this 10cc dream world easily and instantly and it meant whatever I felt it meant. It wasn’t until many years (or decades) later that I heard Eric Stewart being interviewed on Radio 2 (can’t remember who was interviewing him) and he expressed surprise that so many romantic liaisons could have been inspired by a song which was, as he put it, essentially about a stalker. So there you have it from the horse’s/writer’s mouth – and when interviewed separately, Graham Gouldman confirmed. But then, they were UK Irony Pop Champions 10cc – and how wise is it to trust what they say?

    (Then again the couplet “Don’t make a fuss/Don’t tell your friends about the two of us” has always sounded sinister to me…and what about that barely suppressed snarl of gritted teeth mangling the “nasty” of “nasty stain” or the unusually clear emphasis on “lying” a couple of seconds later?)

    Then, as I grew up and lived and died multiple times, the world of “I’m Not In Love” seemed increasingly troubled and insular, and maybe even a little threatening; Stewart’s escalating agonistic denials seemed to imply that he was trying to hide a feeling more dangerous than simply being viewed as Not A Proper Man.

    The song started life as a fairly straightforward exercise in bossa nova (as can still be traced in Gouldman’s acoustic guitar lines buried deep within the right channel); authors Stewart and Gouldman were keen on the song but Godley and Creme less so. However, it was Kevin Godley’s idea to construct an arrangement of 240 multitracked, looped single note voices in varying states of concordance and discordance and to use a drum machine instead of actual drums – the inspiration appears to have been Ligeti’s dense choral work Atmospheres as heard in the Stargate sequence of 2001.

    With this notion as a catalyst, the four musicians decided to take the song as “out” as could be achievable in 1975, and given that they had to make do and mend with literal cut-and-paste 1975 technology, the results are even more miraculous – what sounds like a very early prototype of the Fairlight is actually a chorus of massed kazoos (the Fairlight not coming into pop use until 1980 with Peter Gabriel 3 and Kate Bush’s Never For Ever).

    There is a touch of the Tubular Bells about the weightless “big boys don’t cry” interlude with its shipping forecast piano tinkles and arching buoys of bass, but the “big boys don’t CWY” interspersion is, to misquote Elvis Costello, something that just couldn’t be notated – and nothing like this was being attempted in the rest of that season’s pop. And then the song floats in again, almost reluctantly, before Stewart’s final despairing denial cuts the dummy of the song loose and it magnifies and explodes in slow-motion polytonal chorales – closer than the ear can hear (did they know Escalator Over The Hill?) – before disappearing over the horizon, its fate unseen and never to be known.

    There are melodic pointers to two 1974 songs – Hall and Oates’ “She’s Gone” and Ace’s “How Long” – in the structure of “I’m Not In Love” but it sounds a cosmos away from either. Look through the rest of the Top 20 in the weeks when “I’m Not In Love” topped the chart and you will find the gloomy fag-ends of glam rock, cynical by-the-book singles from artists too long in the game to try harder, ghastly MoR offcuts, even ghastlier novelty hits and bizarrely inexplicable reissues. The only other single in those charts which betrayed even a hint of the future was Hamilton Bohannon’s “Disco Stomp.” “I’m Not In Love” sounded as though recorded 200 years after everything else.

    But Trevor Horn was certainly listening (Dollar’s “Give Me Back My Heart” is, amongst the million other things that it is, an explicit homage, or epilogue, to “I’m Not In Love”) and maybe the 1975 Scott Walker bored with lacklustre country covers and working men’s club engagements – 1978’s “The Electrician” is, amongst the billion other things that it is, like “I’m Not In Love” microstretched into a timescale of infinity; the Strawberry Studios/Joy Division link has already been mentioned above. And young Kate B can’t be ruled out either. From this distance and perspective “I’m Not In Love” feels like the first number one of the eighties; coldly warm, nostalgically futuristic and cosily frightening.

    At the time 10cc were on the point of switching from UK Records to Phonogram, and this was certainly one of two tracks which closed the deal, or were their strongest negotiating tools as artists. However, Phonogram were reluctant to release the second track as a single – a lengthy three-part quasi-operatic epic entitled “Une Nuit A Paris.” This track of course provides the opening to the Original Soundtrack album but Phonogram were extremely dubious about the possibility of a lengthy three-part quasi-operatic epic ever getting to number one as a single. Oh, how they weren’t laughing by year’s end.

  14. 14
    David Belbin on 30 Mar 2008 #

    I don’t have anything to add to Marcello’s excellent analysis, except maybe to point out that even if Eric and Graham thought the song was about a stalker, it is, as Lena notes, rather more complicated than that. Trust the tale not the teller etc.

    I saw the Gouldman version of 10CC a couple of months ago and they did a fine version of INIL with the sub singer (it wasn’t a bad show, actually, they threw in a couple of early Gouldman hits like the fine ‘No Milk Today’ but, annoyingly, left out one of his best 10CC songs, ‘The Worst Band In The World’). My friend Mike, who I went with, had seen the Original Soundtrack tour in the same venue 33 years earlier. Interestingly, 10CC didn’t play ‘I’m Not In Love’ on that tour as it was, at the time, impossible to reproduce live.

  15. 15
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 30 Mar 2008 #

    throughout this entire discussion the relevant 10cc song has been constantly elbowed out of my mind’s ear by joan armatrading’s “love and affection’ (which begins “i am not in love… but i’m open to persuasion”) — which is in content and intent possibly a polar opposite to ALL the various readings of this song?

  16. 16
    intothefireuk on 30 Mar 2008 #

    The Summer of 1975 I was approaching the end of my last year at school, taking numerous ‘o’ levels and probably not taking too much notice of the charts (at this time, as has been noted, there were very meagre offerings to be had). This single was an exception. It stood out for many reasons e.g. the exquisite production, slightly skewed sentiment etc. (this has been covered extensively already). 10cc were also one of the few ‘pop’ bands that made it onto the more serious ‘rock’ radio programmes (e.g. Fluff Freemans Saturday Rock Show, Nicky Hornes Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It) which I had found myself listening to in 1975. The structure of INIL and much of The Original Soundtrack LP veered into prog rock territory (prog pop if you like). Their 1976 single, I’m Mandy Fly Me, which was my first 10cc acquisition, had the same dense production but added time & rhythmic changes and was probably a better example (I actually prefered it as a single at the time). Much like prog, INIL exported you to a different place, a vapid, intangible world which you could immerse yourself in (and escape from the mundane world of exams). Despite over-familiarity it still sends a few shivers down the spine and I think I appreciate it more now than I ever did.

    10cc weren’t the only band experimenting with pop at this time, Fox offered us a few eclectic singles (Only You Can, Imagine Me Imagine You, S.S.S..Single Bed) and of course the mighty ELO had a fair few classic prog pop singles of their own (which unfortunately won’t be troubling Popular).

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    StellaVista on 30 Mar 2008 #

    I always thought that “When love breaks down” by Prefab Sprout echoes INIL with its fragile arrangement, the ebbing and flowing backing vocals and the occasional bass stabs. Even the lyrics of someone who has to admit that he is not in love anymore (although for other reasons) appear as a more level headed answer to the evasive “just because” of 10cc.

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    Waldo on 30 Mar 2008 #

    I enjoyed Marcello’s personal analysis. The record I associate with my own junior school/senior school overlap was Linsey De Paul’s “Sugar Me”, which I could not get out of my head for weeks. It actually began to disturb me after a while, which was ludicrous, as the record was excellent and Linsey was utterly horny. You’d be hard pressed to think of anything or anyone less threatening.

    Marcello, having thrown down the gauntlet for when 10CC come knocking again (“worst number one single” indeed!), I look forward to what is certain to be a bitch fight when we get to 1978. But no more now. (SB)

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    stevem on 30 Mar 2008 #

    I put ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime’ next to this all too easily. I’ve never thought of ‘I’m Not In Love’ the way Lex does so that was an interesting take. For me any literal meaning is overwhelmed by the sublime choral wash which seems to flux from mournful to hopeful (Mellotron but sounding so close to electric guitar at times), but feeling genuine either way, with glorious aplomb and remains it’s signature or key characteristic.

    20 odd years later when Air started releasing vocal songs the influence of that sound felt very heavy and immediate. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was an all time favourite of many of the post-house Parisian popsters (along with the aforementioned Korgis effort) as several of them seem to have nodded to these songs over the years.

    In addition to the Amos rendition this song was covered at least four times in the 90s (3 as a single) including by two more acts who enjoyed their own #1 singles. The 00s can only offer Ultrabeat’s ‘scouse house tribute’ but the song’s enduring bankability will surely continue.

  20. 20
    jeff w on 30 Mar 2008 #

    Great thread so far.

    I think I went on about the importance to me of 10cc in the “Rubber Bullets” thread, so won’t repeat myself. But I will say I admire more than love this song. I obsessed rather more about several of the other tracks on The Original Soundtrack, especially the aforementioned “Une nuit a Paris”.

    Marcello rightly singles out the enunciation of the word “nasty”. In fact, for years I always thought Eric was singing “it hides a nest of stains that’s lyin’ there”. (My sister’s copy of the LP came without the lyric sheet.) Which is even more ugh in a way.

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    stevem on 30 Mar 2008 #

    I’m dreading (NPI) the impending (well, by the end of the year maybe, tom willing ;) war over 10cc’s third and final #1 almost! But I’d take it over the song of a similar (on the surface at least) bent coming up a lot sooner.

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    Chris Brown on 30 Mar 2008 #

    You know, I really didn’t think I liked this record. But with the amount of love for it on here I think I may need to re-assess it.

    Meanwhile – does that tally of 90s covers include 10cc’s own effort?

  23. 23
    Billy Smart on 30 Mar 2008 #

    Goodness, I’ve never heard any of these versions;

    Fun Lovin’ Criminals (No. 12, 1997)
    Johnny Logan (No. 51, 1987)
    Will To Power (No. 29, 1990)

    Surely I’m not missing out on anything?

  24. 24
    Dan M. on 30 Mar 2008 #

    The song sounds gorgeous today, as many have pointed out. When it was out originally I was too fixated on funkier stuff for “I’m Not in Love” to be more than background noise to me, like “Dance With Me” by Orleans, and I don’t remember paying any attention to the lyrics whatsoever (The less popular “I’m Mandy Fly Me” grabbed me a little more, because of its off-the-wall “plot”, which still baffles and entertains…)

    I’m curious, though, about the “stalker” interpretation of the lyrics. Who’s supposed to be the stalker, the singer, or the one he’s singing to??? It’s strange stalker behavior, to be putting off the stalk-ee, denying that he has feelings for her — but maybe he’s a strange stalker who insults the object of his obsession and treats HER as though she’s too attached to HIM. In some ways it sounds more like SHE is the “stalker”, but that the guy is weak and let himself use/be used by her and is now trying to keep her at arm’s length? But then, why keep have a picture of her on his wall, stain or no stain, in that scenario? No, she doesn’t really sound like a stalker, either. I have to go with a more straightforward interperetation… whether he’s in love or not, he’s just a guy acting like an asshole, telling a girl whose stuck on him that he’ll sleep with her but not to make too much of it.

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    crag on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Sorry i dont get any of this “stalker” business at all i’m afraid- surely the song is about what Tom accurately calls “emotional phobia”-the narrator is uncomfortable admitting- to her, to the world at large but most of all to HIMSELF- his feelings of love. To have a go at the poor bloke is a little unsympathetic isn’t it? Plenty people(male and female) have surely had similar romantic prediciments?
    At least thats how ive always viewed it and will continue to do so- the “stalker” interpration really is creepy and dwelling on it could seriously marr the enjoyment of the song for me!
    Not as much as the thought of a cover by the dreaded Fun Lovin’ Criminals(#23) does, though- thank christ i’ve managed to block that one of my memories..

  26. 26
    Marcello Carlin on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Good call on Fox upthread – Kenny Young, the American expat responsible for “Under The Boardwalk” and “Captain Of Your Ship” who came over to Britain at the end of the sixties and wrote most of Clodagh Rodgers’, um, deepest hits, who then proceeded to invent the eighties early with the luxuriously luscious Australian folkie Susan Traynor, a.k.a. Noosha Fox. There’s some amazing stuff on both (Noosha) Fox albums which clearly anticipates both Clare Grogan and Kate Bush in terms of both vocal delivery and attitude and experimental production techniques. Highly underrated, still (though Fox – Noosha = Yellow Dog; not so good a combination, could-ah-stay could-ah-ap stay ad infinitum).

    ELO in ’75 – that would have been Eldorado, which also has substantial claims in the sonic invention department and certainly broke them big time in the States but did next to nothing in Britain; it wasn’t until their next album that we finally caught up (and indeed ELO will sadly not trouble Popular with the exception of one not very representative “team-up” in 1980).

    Much of the American success of Eldorado was ascribed to the evocative Wizard Of Oz-inspired album cover. When then ELO manager Sharon Arden (later Osbourne) presented the album artwork to ELO for their perusal, top Tory drummer Bev “Bev” Bevan recalls that he nearly fell off his seat (don’t know whether he was drumming at the time) spluttering with bewilderment, saying the cover was rubbish and when Sharon countered with: “But don’t you get it? It’s the Wizard Of Oz!,” “Bev” replied “What the fook is Wizardofoz – gimme a Heineken!”

  27. 27
    LondonLee on 31 Mar 2008 #

    I wrote a post about the Eldorado sleeve on my blog a while ago. Lovely, lovely image.

    Plug over.

    I don’t have any evocative personal memories of “I’m Not In Love” at all which is a bummer as it seems perfect for that sort of wistful nostalgia. Something I think Sofia Coppola captured beautifully when she used it for the school dance scene in “The Virgin Suicides”

  28. 28
    Waldo on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Did someone mention Miss Clodagh? I had (and continue to have) a fixation about her. Have I not mentioned this?

    Noosha Fox? Yes, please. She did a little ditty called “Georgina Bailey”, which told the tale of an English girl being sent to school in France under the stewardship of an uncle, a dance teacher. Nubile Georgina promptly develops a crush on him. Alas the uncle’s talent as a exponant of tripping the light fantastic is exemplified by a pronounced lightness of foot, which Georgina in her innocence is unable to detect and thus her dreams of love (incestuous in any case) come to nought. I thought that this record was wonderfully funny but was equally astonished that it wasn’t banned. It certainly would be now, of course. Indeed the police would almost certainly step in.

    Yellow Dog also came out with an excellently amusing single “Just One More Night”, again a narration, this time about a guy desperately trying get rid of an unwanted woman from his home. There was also a track called “For Whatever It’s Worth”, which I thought was a belter but sunk without trace.

  29. 29
    mike on 31 Mar 2008 #

    A fascinating thread, and particularly for me as – OK, deep breath, here goes – I was never all that struck by “I’m Not In Love” at the time, and I’ve never given it much thought since. I suppose that I’d always made the same interpretation as Rosie (#10), which I also think is the most widespread interpetation… but now, listening more closely to the lyrics and picking up on the creepier undertones for the first time, I’m not so sure.

    As to why I was never all that struck by the song at the time: I suppose it just sounded too smooth for my proggy 13-year old tastes. Yes, the sonic innovation is remarkable and prescient – I hear that now – but in my self-discovered squddly-widdly world of Yes and Gong and Kevin Ayers and early Soft Machine and The White Album, it failed to make any impact.

    And then there was also the almost instant “Classic Track” reverence – the song was voted Best! Single! Ever! in a Capital Radio poll the following year, and my study-mates had the wall chart to prove it – which also put me off, as did any overt displays of pedestal-placing.

    But perhaps the truth of the matter was more simple than that: the song deals with complex adult emotions, and I was still too young to grasp them.

    By the way, while we’re on the covers: search YouTube, and you’ll find a version from last year by Queen Latifah, whose Soul Passion and Honesty (pace MC) misses all possible points.

  30. 30
    mike on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Oh, and a PS: One of my classmates used to play a version of this on his guitar – to some acclaim – which he had re-titled “W@nking Phase”. (“I’m not in love, it’s just a w@nking phase I’m going through…”) Boys will be boys!

  31. 31
    Rob M on 31 Mar 2008 #

    As a six year old at the time, I do remember the song very vividly from TOTP and shows like that, because I’d not heard anything similar before. I liked it at the time for its difference to anything else. I remember my father borrowing “The original soundtrack” from a works music club and returning it the next day saying it was unlistenable, except for this song which landed on a compilation tape for the car. Even at six I knew what I liked and there were songs which reached number one from this year which I absolutely hated, and for which I shall reserve my vitriol (you’ll find out in time).

    So, at six I liked it but I didn’t understand it lyrically or emotionally, and nothing else really sounded like it then or now – I must add that “Souvenir” by OMD may be indebted to this song as well, seeing as the basis for that song was some choral singers tuning up and singing constant scales and the wash of voices they created. From a distance of another 32 years I can appreciate the lyric, and – um – I can see the stalker mentality behind it. I suppose I’ve been in both positions actually – the narrator and the object of (non)-affection – and it’s not much fun on either side. But that’s grown up talk. At six, it just was something special I didn’t understand – and that’s probably something I still look for in music.

  32. 32
    Rob M on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Hmm. I just seem to have repeated myself about three times there. Sorry. And I’ve just noticed the EDIT key. Oh well.

  33. 33
    Dan M. on 31 Mar 2008 #

    More on the “stalker” question, though on a tangent: it’s interesting that one of the writers said later that the song is — I can’t remember the exact quote from above, but — more or less about a stalker, in that, as I rememeber it, the term “stalker” as we use it these days — for someone obsessed with following or surveilling or hounding a particular love- or hate- object, usually to the point of violence or the threat of it — hadn’t been coined, or at least wasn’t widely used, in the mid-70s. I have a feeling that it came into being either around the time of “Fatal Attraction” or perhaps 7-8 years earlier when John Hinkley shot Ronald Reagan as part of his stalking of Jodie Foster (or Chapman/Lennon). And not only wasn’t the term in general use (unless I’m mistaken), I’m not sure the concept of the stalker persona had really been established in popular culture before then. At least I can’t think of any examples from movies. Serial killers abounded, but they were more fixated on the act than the victim; there was “Cape Fear” and “Strangers on a Train,” but the first was based on revenge, and the latter — well, that’s pretty close actually, but the twist of trading murders somewhat outweighs the Robert Walker’s fixation on Farley Granger himself… This is all off the top of my head: am I way off the mark and missing some obvious, pre-Hinckley examples of stalkers in reality or popular-culture? (oh and of course Hinckley’s obsession grew out of Taxi Driver, which is a good proto-stalker movie example). I guess my point would be that the “I’m Not in Love” writer may have been reading backwards and exaggerating an aspect of the song’s storyline based on later cultural ideas.

  34. 34
    mike on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Another possible reason why INIL failed to grab me: I’d enjoyed 10cc’s singles up until then, but had them pegged as wry, satirical, whimsical and fun. (Especially the vividly condensed, almost filmic mini-saga of “The Dean And I”, which I can still spool note-for-note through my mental jukebox.) Now all of a sudden they had gone soppy and sincere on me, pouting moodily to camera through a soft-focus lens, and I felt vaguely betrayed.

    (By the time of “I’m Mandy Fly Me”, we were back in synch with each other, but only fleetingly, and I know which side of the fence I’ll be standing in the forthcoming Epic Showdown!)

  35. 35
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 31 Mar 2008 #

    “play misty for me” (1971): clint eastwood is a DJ pestered by an obsessed fan <— so the idea was around (acc.wiki california was the first place to enact anti-stalker laws, after a series of cases in the 90s, all involving minor celebrities; and my guess is that the idea — and indeed the behaviour — went back some way before this within and around the hollywood community…)

  36. 36
    mike on 31 Mar 2008 #

    I also remember a British TV play circa 1974 which dealt with stalker-type issues – it creeped the hell out of me at the time.

  37. 37
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 31 Mar 2008 #

    also just in terms of popfan behaviour — off the map of fictional retelling but ON the map of stories pop-industry workers would be well aware of — i find it hard to believe that the 60s rock explosion didn’t bring a TON of obsessive and deluded fans out of the woodwork to dog their idols: certainly i remember reading about the beatlemaniacs who hung around abbey road the whole time in the late 60s; the beatles had to run this gauntlet, and it was often truculent and semi-hostile (esp.when new beatle GFs had just hit the news)

    10cc wd be perfectly well aware of such tales

    true though that the word “stalker” in its current sense probably didn’t emerge till the 80s or so

  38. 38
    Dan M. on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Yes, yes, “play misty for me,” I wish I’d remembered that one! Definitely the model for Fatal Attraction and the sub-genre it spawned!

  39. 39
    Brian on 31 Mar 2008 #

    It always amazes me how all the contributors, who were only “bairns” at the time, can come up with so many interesting insights into these songs !

    Just for the record – I can’t see the stalker thing all. I hear a guy shuting down all the emotions because he has been overwhelmed by what ? Her Beauty ? His Committment ? A previuos Rejection ? A lost Mommy ?

    But it is classic stuff and I am so glad it’s appreciated , to some degree by everyone….

  40. 40
    Rob M on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Re: #37. I seem to remember seeing some film around the time of “Imagine” where John Lennon is being accosted by a fan who demands to know what “You can syndicate every boat you row” means, and the guy’s really well meaning but persistent, but in the end John says “It’s just words, you know, it doesn’t MEAN anything”. So said stalkerish pop fans did exist even then. AJ Weberman as well, come to think of it.

  41. 41
    Waldo on 31 Mar 2008 #

    I’m with Brian. I didn’t see the stalker back in the day (I was 14) and I don’t really see him now, despite this most excellent blog. Good debate, though.

    If you lot want a REAL stalker song, try Lil’ George Macrae with the most unsubtle “I Can’t Leave You Alone”. You don’t need Michael Mansfield to prove that one. Durty wee bugger! (That’s George, not Michael)

  42. 42
    Brian on 31 Mar 2008 #

    And, sorry to mention Sting again, ,but there was my wife’s official courting song ” Every Breath You Take”.

  43. 43
    Brian on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Oh, and on the new ” Eagles ” LP – a very weird, obssesive number is ” Waiting in The Weeds “. Scary, in fact. Perfectly rendered.

  44. 44
    Dan R on 31 Mar 2008 #

    For a chilling stalker-song, try ‘Let Me Be There’ recorded by Elvis, Olivia Newton-John, and many others. It sounds vaguely romantic at first listening, but then imagine it being sung softly by a stranger onto your answer machine.

  45. 45
    crag on 31 Mar 2008 #
  46. 46
    crag on 31 Mar 2008 #

    Re: Rob M’s comment about OMD’s Souvenir(#31)- spot on!Exactly what i was on about when i was talking about INILs influence on early 80s pop in my initial post- cant believe i didnt think of it meself..
    Re: stalker songs in general- although lyrically not especially relevant surely the video for J Timberlake’s Cry Me A River is the ultimate in pop stalkerdom? I remember how frankly disturbing it was when i first saw it. Shame we won’t be covering the track in (approx) 6 years time- abirrovaclassic IMO.

  47. 47
    rosie on 31 Mar 2008 #

    As you know, I’m not really au fait with more recent developments in the singles chart as I’ve been too busy regressing into stuff that was before even my, but would that be Cry Me A River as in Julie London’s Cry Me A River? Because I adore that song in that version and if it had been a number one it would have been a ten right down the middle, and Mr Timberlake surely had a cheek thinking he could come close.

    But then again, maybe it was a different song…

  48. 48
    Tom on 31 Mar 2008 #

    It’s a different song, though the reference is intentional – like the London track, it’s a kiss-off to an ex (in this case Ms.Spears, who the video none-too-subtly references).

  49. 49
    Erithian on 1 Apr 2008 #

    This was part of a quiz question I used a couple of years back – along with tATu’s “All The Things She Said” and Oasis’s “Songbird” it was the first UK top three to comprise entirely recycled titles (Simple Minds and Kenny G having used the other titles).

    I’m with Mike and Brian above on the stalker angle and preference for 10cc’s other, sparkier, singles (particularly I’m Mandy), and for me the subtle bass line under the “Big boys don’t cry” section is the best thing about this one. But that’s the joy of Popular, in that people who care deeply about a song can express just why it moves them so, and the analysis and discussion open up entire new vistas on the songs and the music. More power to its elbow.

  50. 50
    rosie on 1 Apr 2008 #

    A little research on Wikipedia tells me that Julie London got to number 22 with CMAR in 1957. That feels like an injustice to me, or maybe 1957 audiences in Britain weren’t ready for something which, to me at least, seems so timeless.

    I also noted a most impressive list of others who have recorded it. Some of the names boggle the mind, but having thought that Billie Holiday would have sent the song into orbit, she’s not on the list. All the same, Julie London gives it a silky menace that would be hard to match.

    Swerving, I had an idea for a collection of short stories based on songs (yes, yes, I’ve no doubt it’s been done before.) CMAR would make a good basis for one, and so, returning to topic, and taking the current debate into account, would INIL.

  51. 51
    Erithian on 1 Apr 2008 #

    The somewhat underrated Mari Wilson did a fine version of CMAR as well.

  52. 52
    crag on 1 Apr 2008 #

    Julie London’s CMAR certainly is a total classic- if asked which song i prefered (JL’s or JT’s) i think it would be to close to call- they’re both magnificent in different ways. In fact a good halfway point both historically and musically between London’s smooth chilly performance and and the psychedelic futurepop of Timberlake’s track would be…oh yes, I’m Not In Love by 10cc!
    (do u see what i did there?)

  53. 53
    Marcello Carlin on 1 Apr 2008 #

    I had a look at that ’57 chart and to be fair there was quite a lot of competition but also there was the bizarre factor of several artists having two entries in the Top 20, including Lonnie Donegan, Pat Boone, Little Richard, Frankie Lymon, Guy Mitchell, Johnnie Ray and even Tab Hunter. Whereas poor Julie only had the one.

  54. 54
    Matthew H on 1 Apr 2008 #

    Not much to add, except this is also a heavy presence on Daft Punk’s ‘Nightvision’.

    I had a cassette of the Johnny Logan album – no idea why, and no idea where it is now – that his cover appeared on. It was the rush-release to accompany his second Eurovision winner ‘Hold Me Now’ and my vague recollections suggest it was fairly faithful. It was hardly going to be radical.

  55. 55
    rosie on 1 Apr 2008 #

    Poor Julie indeed! With the exception of Little Richard, who never had a number one but appears in the list anyway all those others named only feature in my Big Random Playlist because they figure in this exercise. Whereas Julie is there because I want her to be, and I’d choose to listen to her other than randomly.

  56. 56
    Waldo on 1 Apr 2008 #

    # 44 – “but then imagine it being sung softly by a stranger onto your answer machine.”

    In some circumstances, this would be rather nice. Gwen Cooper from “Torchwood”, for example. Trouble is, I’d probably end up with Captain Jack Harkness “belling” me.

    Down, Mike!!!!

  57. 57
    tim davidge on 1 Apr 2008 #

    This has obviously provoked a lot of thought, but then, it’s a thought-provoking record, one of the more cerebral of the year, and especially so by singles standards. To the extent that the song has a meaning for me apart from being part of the soundtrack to what turned out to be a pleasant summer, I suppose it’s a song about withholding feelings, or alternatively the rather tragic case of someone who really hasn’t got any feelings to withhold because they’re incapable of having them in the first place. I don’t, however, see the ‘stalking’ connection. As for the production, Joe Meek would have been proud of these guys. If the backing sounds like voices recorded over and over again, it’s probably because that’s what it consists of. Something in there sound like a kazoo? It’s because…… And there was that faint, puttering beat in the background, a touch so subtle that if you only ever head the song on a car radio or on a pocket transistor, you probably wouldn’t even have been aware that it was there. A heavy handed record? I don’t think so. It was a lot of things, but not that.

  58. 58
    Tom on 1 Apr 2008 #

    Just in case it wasn’t clear from the entry, I don’t think it’s heavy-handed either: I’m posing the question rhetorically in order to refute it.

  59. 59
    Alan on 2 Apr 2008 #

    i recall a telly show (about musical plagiarism i think) with some musicologist using this track, specifically the intro, as an example of how little of a song you needed to ID it – i think to make the point that credit is not about length of sample, but some abstract ‘distinctiveness’

  60. 60

    Yes this is an argument Eno has been makin for years: that song identity in pop is less melody or words than “instant architecture” (<-- not his phrase)

  61. 61
    henry s on 2 Apr 2008 #

    but how can this be a good example when the intro is almost exactly the same as another, equally popular song (“She’s Gone”)?

  62. 62
    Cupcake on 2 Apr 2008 #

    I haven’t read all the comments, but the diversity of interpretations of this song is confusing.

    For me, the song is clearly about a person who’s heart has been broken by someone, who is in love with someone who doesn’t love him (anymore). So he tries to convince himself – in vain – that he hasn’t really been in love and truly committed anyway. While he is enumerating the things he does which reflect being in love: “I call you up”, “I like to see you”, “I keep your picture”, Maybe also because his pride is hurt, and he desperately tries to keep his head above the water emotionally.

    He even tries to swap “sides” and feel superior by swearing that he would never love the other person (again), even if the feeling was mutual (“You’ll wait a long time for me”).

  63. 63
    Cupcake on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Now that I’ve finally read all the comments (;-)), I totally agree with Rosie (#10) who has put it in much better words. (Sorry for my English…).

  64. 64
    vinylscot on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Comments on this seem to be mainly very positive, which is to be expected – it is a very good song.

    However, and one or two people have alluded to this already, to me its cleverness has always slightly spoiled the overall effect. It’s as if they have tried to do too much here, the song challenges you to think about it… and when you do you come up with some things you don’t quite like, the messy stain, big boys don’t cry etc..

    I can acknowledge that, at 14 at the time, I maybe didn’t really understand it all but even now it sounds hackneyed and clumsy to me – not just the emotions of the person singing, but the SONG itself.

    Much like other “clever” English writers such as Elvis Costello, and Difford/Tilbrook, 10CC’s cleverness often got in the way and diminished from what could have been fantastic songs.

    As someone stated earlier, this is a song I can admire and appreciate, rather than a song I like.

  65. 65
    rosie on 4 Apr 2008 #

    But I think Elvis Costello, and Squeeze for that matter, are/were wonderful! And Sting too. I’m sure you meant to mention him.

    For me, clever = sexy. Which is probably why I’ll be right out on a limb when we come to discuss punk.

  66. 66
    Tom on 4 Apr 2008 #

    With 10cc I don’t think it’s their cleverness per se which is offputting to me, more that I don’t share their sense of humour or wit. One of the things with “cleverness” is the way it’s often expressed through puns, wordplay, allusions, jokes, but this is a more dangerous territory than just being smart bcz jokes (however clever they are) won’t work unless they make you smile (this is the issue a lot of people have with Zappa). What makes Costello work more than 10cc, for me, is the way he manages often to be clever without necessarily being witty or wry or ironic.

    The other potential problem with “cleverness” is that it can be paradoxically undemanding of its audience: it can create a sense of “well done, you’re in the club that can appreciate this, now put your feet up” (I get this from a lot of indie with ostensibly smart lyrics, but maybe I’m being chippy and looking for it).

  67. 67
    Tom on 4 Apr 2008 #

    (But on INIL I think the cleverness works absolutely in favour of the song.)

  68. 68
    Martin Skidmore on 16 Apr 2008 #

    Responding very late to that comment about Tammy and hubby that Tom made, the song you’re looking for is She Thinks I Still Care, as recorded by George Jones (Mr Tammy Wynette) for a country #1 in 1962. It’s very, very similar in its conceit.

  69. 69
    Billy Smart on 25 Aug 2008 #

    Cover version alert! I’ve just heard Tony Christie’s interpretation for the first time. It isn’t an ornate song in his hands. Nor is it a creepy one. Nor a profound one.

  70. 70
    Mark G on 26 Aug 2008 #

    I remember Petula Clark’s Reggae-lite version.

  71. 71
    Erithian on 31 Oct 2008 #

    Take a look at post #28 upthread. It struck me the other day that while we’re all following the Brand/Ross Phonegate saga, it’s only the likes of us Populistas who’ll be thinking of a certain Noosha Fox song whenever we hear the name of the woman involved. Waldo, if you’re reading this, we salute you!

  72. 72
    swanstep on 6 Jan 2010 #

    One of the quintessential, fantastic singles of the ’70s for me. It’s up there with Benny and the Jets, I feel love, (F’wood Mac’s) Dreams, Wuthering Heights, Trans-Europe Express as a pure sonic achievement. I absolutely adore the almost underwater sound and organic feel of the beat. At any rate, I think that you do hear that in Martin Hannett. And adding to the pile of ’80s stuff that draws on the record more broadly: half of ‘Leave it’ that Trevor Horn did with/for Yes surely is just Fairlight-ed INIL backing tracks. And, let’s face it, if there isn’t a good ‘Lexicon of I’m not in Love’ mash-up out there, there really should be!

    The standard reading of the song (rosie’s above) – he’s in love alright though he doesn’t want to say it, admit it etc. – gets at something that was in the air at lot in the years after INIL came out. There’s a great double-edged scene in Annie Hall (1977) where Annie’s ticked off that Alvy (Woody Allen) never says he loves her. Alvy wittily defends his approach to the L-world by saying that it’s too puny etc. for him, and that in general all real words would only falsify and diminish his feelings for her etc.. He then launches into saying that he lurrrffs her, loaves her, etc.. It’s all quite winning, *but* there’s no getting around that it also registers as an evasion… We *do* effectively know at that point that Annie and Alvy won’t make it/will eventually split up. ‘New sensitive males’, Alan Alda’-ish guys, and their downsides became a big ongoing topic of cultural discussion from the late ’70s on. INIL feels to me like an early entry in those stakes – ‘whiny INIL guys and the women who love them too much’ perhaps.

    Anyhow, it’s thrilling that INIL got to #1: 10.

  73. 73
    Diane Forth-Eglon on 10 May 2010 #

    I am sure “I’m Not In Love” by 10cc was used on a Cadbury’s Chocolate advert in the ’80’s. There was swirling chocolate and the song in the background. Am I right?

  74. 74
    thefatgit on 12 May 2010 #

    INIL is a wonderful piece of pop isn’t it? It’s a lush production, with the choral backing provided by kazoos. Thank you Marcello for confirming this. I’m reminded of an argument with a friend years ago about whether there was a synth-choir on this song. I said synths hadn’t managed an adequate “vocal” effect by the mid-70’s, so any solution would have been a more lo-fi means of achieving the desired effect. What I hadn’t bargained on was something as lo-fi as a kazoo!

  75. 75
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Sep 2010 #

    – It’s a classic, isn’t it?

  76. 76
    bounder on 15 Sep 2010 #

    Have been reading this much too late, but from the start in an effort to catch up.

    And this is where I come in

  77. 77
    Billy Smart on 18 Jan 2011 #

    Cover version alert! Dee Dee Sharp of ‘Mashed Potato’ fame was quick of the mark in 1975 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy4h1wx8a3E – I think that the first minute of this is absolutely fantastic, but after the chorus comes in – and you can tell where its going to go from thereon – it settles down into just being a very good reading.

  78. 78
    wichita lineman on 19 Jan 2011 #

    Petula Clark’s discoid version, on the other hand, is intriguingly different, but not very good:


    Her voice seems almost entirely disconnected from the lyric. It sounds like she genuinely isn’t in love, which kinda misses the point.

  79. 79
    Lena on 30 Apr 2012 #

    As I was recently reminded that I didn’t give kudos to the bass player when I should have in my blog (Andy Fraser, “All Right Now” – wry bass playing, if I may say so) may I say that I think that Gouldman’s work here is equally good, and that effectively this song separates the first and second parts of the 70s, in that there doesn’t seem to be any going backwards from it…

  80. 80
    Auntie Beryl on 22 Mar 2013 #

    Marcello at #13 refers to the bossa nova roots of INIL, and whilst I make no case for the quality of the Fun Lovin Criminals cover, it does restore that original intended feel to the song.

    It is not by any means a typical FLC wisecracking Tarantino-by-numbers affair from Huey and chums.

    As for the original, no one on the board dislikes this, do they? Nor me.

  81. 81
    hectorthebat on 12 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    Blender (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now! (2003)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Michaelangelo Matos (USA) – Top 100 Singles of the 1970s (2001) 101
    Pause & Play (USA) – Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 623
    Q (UK) – The Ultimate Music Collection (2005)
    Q (UK) – Top 20 Singles from 1970-1979 (2004) 6
    Nerikes Allehanda (Sweden) – The 50 Best Rock Songs of All Time (1992) 41
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 5
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Hervé Bourhis (France) – Le Petit Livre Rock: The Juke Box Singles 1950-2009
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)
    New Musical Express (UK) – Singles of the Year 2

  82. 82
    lonepilgrim on 7 Nov 2019 #

    As a teenager immersed in Prog rock at the time and fairly dismissive of chart music this challenged those orthodoxies as it was emotionally complex and ambiguous yet musically it seemed superficially quite simple and straightforward. It pulls you in and then pushes you away. The singer sounds to me as if he’s trying to convince himself because he can’t admit that the opposite is true – a form of toxic masculinity that poisons all it touches.

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