’82 Clarke-Moyet Three-Way: Yazoo – “Only You”
Yazoo are available on iTunes.
by Walter Price
In the ancient year of 1982, the decadence that would define an era was at its dawn. And you were young and didn’t understand the atmospheres around you. You were lost in the mystical thoughts of helping a new weird friend to phone home. And your brain was full of the sounds of Hall & Oats, Fleetwood Mac, Michael McDonald, and Melissa Manchester. But you were about to get yourself introduced to a whole new sound. A sound that didn’t fit into what you thought was conventional radio fare.
This new sound was delivered by a band from a far-off land. That band was Yazoo (Yaz for us Americans) and their subtle and intriguing song was “Only You”. A modern jazzy-soul electronica ode to what Simon & Garfunkel had been doing a generation ago had you at its simplistic and poetic approach to yearning love. You knew at first listen that what you thought you knew about music had changed. Changed forever and your future was sonically wide open.
Songwriter Vince Clarke had written “Only You” as a swansong of sorts as he exited Depeche Mode but the band rejected it and he ventured out to release it on his own with a female on vocals. That one-of-a-kind soulful woman was punk and R&B singer Alison Moyet. Clarke explained to Songfacts, “One of the big reasons I asked Alison to sing ‘Only You’ was because I felt that it was a ballad that needed someone with a soulful voice. And it wasn’t like I thought to myself, ‘Okay, you have a chance to marry electronics with song.’ It just turned out that way, and it happened Alison had a great voice, and it worked really well.”
He further added, “The first time I heard her sing, she was in a punk band called the Vandals. And my best friend, Rob, he was the guitarist for the Vandals, and they played at one of the local pubs. And then I saw her a couple of times after that. She sang for an R&B band. So when I finally had her do this demo with me, I knew she had a great voice.”
Sometimes when I think of her name
When it’s only a game
And I need you
Listen to the words that you say
It’s getting harder to stay
When I see you
All I needed was the love you gave
All I needed for another day
And all I ever knew
But personal history like many things is open to interpretations. And “Only You” has been taken in and internalized in many different ways over the decades since its release. Not just by the casual listener like you and I, but by artists of varying genres and I thought it a great idea to curate three of the most fascinating cover versions I could lay ears on. Let’s go three-ways Yazoo’s “Only You”.
Enrique Iglesias (Solo En Tí)
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