Feb 05

THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS – “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”

Popular12 comments • 3,150 views

#186, 6th February 1965

Size always matters: there are few surer-fire ways of creating a pop impact than by recording something which sounds bigger than whatever else is around. It might not win credibility (step forward, Meat Loaf) but it generally wins fans. But the moment passes and faced with former blockbusters you can find yourself scratching your head and saying, yes, but what’s it for?

The Wall of Sound isn’t entirely immune – a few of Spector’s riper productions sound a little bit ridiculous now, as blowsy as the operatic ballads of the pre-rock 50s. But on the whole his insight – that if your songs dramatise young love in crisis, you can never sound too big – served him well. The Righteous Brothers don’t sound young, though, in fact their deep, slow voices sound exhausted, crushed, bound for the tomb – if not already there.

Numbed and broken by their struggles in the quicksand of a dying love, the Brothers sound shocked, then angry, and then the dam breaks on their double-voiced grief and desperation. It’s in that call and response section – and in the granite determination of the final chorus – that Spector’s methods really justify themselves.

(The opening line of this song is fantastic, too – tiny, acute, heartbreaking, you immediately know that no matter how loud the record gets, this is a hopeless battle.)



  1. 1
    rosie on 14 Jun 2008 #

    This is wonderful. Just hearing those opening seconds makes me go weak at the knees even now. By the end I’m in need of a cold shower.

  2. 2
    dch on 27 Oct 2009 #

    Thank goodness that this made it to No.1 given the ‘competition’ from Cilla Black’s cover version, which to the UK’s shame, got as far as no. 2.

    Is Cilla’s disc the worst ever cover version to get into the Top 10 ?-discuss!

  3. 3
    Chelovek na lune on 9 Oct 2010 #

    #2 The Cilla version is indeed atrocious; wrong is so many ways. Perhaps the worst top 10 cover version before the advent of the drum machine?

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 2 Jan 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: The Righteous Brothers performed ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ on the Top Of The Pops broadcast on January 25 1965. Also in the studio that week were; Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, Del Shannon, The Seekers and Them. Pete Murray was the host. The edition doesn’t survive, but the performance does.

  5. 5
    RDMcNamara on 1 Apr 2011 #

    And it’s on BBCFour as I type this Billy.. Even Medley’s out-of-time finger-clicking can’t dim its light.

  6. 6
    lonepilgrim on 4 May 2011 #

    This was also a number 1 over in the USA, as celebrated
    here .

  7. 7
    swanstep on 14 Jul 2012 #

    Tom salutes the first line in YLTLF and I agree with that, but the thing I find so affecting in both verses is the half rhyme structure, midway though the lines in each couplet:

    You never close your eyes *anymore* when I kiss your lips.
    And there’s no tenderness like *before* in your fingertips.

    Now there’s no welcome look *in your eyes* when I reach for you.
    And girl you’re starting to *criticize* little things I do.

    I think it’s this additional rhyming structure, and not just Bill Medley’s breathy, sonorous vocal that makes the verses feel so intimate. We’re right in there with this schmo who knows it’s over.

    Everything else about the song and record is great too, but it’s that first lyrical finesse that makes it in my view.

    I was in a band that covered YLTLF. It was hard for one’s own stuff to compete with it (this was just before Top Gun killed the song off for a generation). Anyhow, for me this is a nailed on:

  8. 8
    swanstep on 15 Jul 2012 #

    The ‘no hard chords’ link that lonepilgrim provides compares YLTLF’s opening line with the opening line from The Paris Sisters’ ‘I love how you Love Me’ (1961) which shares both a writer (Barry Mann) and a producer (Spector) with YLTLF. And Mann himself agrees that he might have been drawing on that earlier line.

    Following that up, ILHYLM feels new to me, but tons of people including Ferry (on These Foolish Things) have covered it, so it must be just that it’s never stuck with me (as contented, happy songs mostly don’t compared to ‘when love goes wrong’ stuff; take a bow, Nick Hornby).

    Anyhow, here’s ILHYLM’s opening couplet:

    I love how your eyes close whenever you kiss me
    And when I’m away from you I love how you miss me

    No inner half-rhymes there.

    ILHYLM’s best couplet for me is:

    I love how your heart *beats* whenever I hold you
    I love how you think of *me* without being told to

    The inner half-rhyme’s in place, and the small dark cloud of the ‘told to’ note that’s struck is funny and speaks to my inner miserabilist!

    Overall, though, YLTLF’s lyrics feel as upgraded from ILTYLM as Spector’s force 9 gale production does.

  9. 9
    hectorthebat on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 1
    Dave Marsh (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 5
    Gary Pig Gold (Canada) – The 40 Most Influental Records of the 20th Century (1999)
    Greil Marcus (USA) – STRANDED: “Treasure Island” Singles (1979)
    Pause & Play (USA) – Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week
    RIAA and NEA (USA) – 365 Songs of the Century (2001) 9
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (USA) – 500 Songs That Shaped Rock (1994?)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 100 Best Singles of the Last 25 Years (1988) 19
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 34
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 34
    The Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame Albums and Songs (USA)
    2FM (Ireland) – Top 100 Singles of All Time (2003) 2
    Mojo (UK) – The 100 Greatest Singles of All Time (1997) 13
    New Musical Express (UK) – The Top 100 Singles of All Time (1976) 13
    New Musical Express (UK) – The Top 150 Singles of All Time (1987) 95
    Paul Roland (UK) – CD Guide to Pop & Rock, 100 Essential Singles (2001)
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 155
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Sounds (UK) – The 100 Best Singles of All Time (1986) 22
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    Vox (UK) – 100 Records That Shook the World (1991)
    Zig Zag (UK) – Gillett & Frith’s Hot 100 Singles (1975)
    Nerikes Allehanda (Sweden) – The 50 Best Rock Songs of All Time (1992) 48
    Berlin Media (Germany) – The 100 Best Singles of All Time (1998) 18
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Rolling Stone (France) – The 100 Best Singles of the Last 25 Years (1988) 36
    Rock de Lux (Spain) – The Top 150 Songs from the 20th Century (1998) 69
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Mauro Ronconi (Italy) – The Best Song from the 200 Best Albums (1998)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  10. 10
    lonepilgrim on 23 Jul 2015 #

    as well as the internal rhymes mentioned I love the way the lyrics move from yelped short precise words “you’ve – lost – that” to long drawn out howls ‘looooooving feeeeeeling” as if the singer can barely contain his grief. Following on from ‘Go Now’ there seemed to be something tragic in the air.

  11. 11
    wichitalineman on 23 Jul 2015 #

    Lurking lower down the Top 20 was Billy Fury’s I’m Lost Without You, another acocalyptic end-of-the-affair song, and Del Shannon’s bleak Keep Searchin’, which sort of explains why the Runaway ran away. Was it a particularly oppressive winter?

  12. 12
    Gareth Parker on 1 May 2021 #

    For me this is glorious and a dead cert 10/10 in my opinion.

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