Air Supply – The One that you Love

First Hit #1: July 25, 1981

In the beginning, The One that You Love is a pretty simple song. Just voice and piano, a classic combination that never really goes out of style. And when it comes to ballads, that’s generally the sound I prefer, since it doesn’t get overbearing and it’s a better showcase for the performer. Yet, with Air Supply, when they kicked into the chorus with its big strings, I thought to myself “finally.”

That’s out of character, so why did I have that reaction? It’s probably because voice and piano demands a voice that stands alone, while Russell Hitchcock’s voice doesn’t. It’s not a bad voice, though it is oddly androgynous, but he has difficulty getting the song off the ground. When he has the support of the band and the strings, it works, because it’s the kind of voice that needs the whole to work best, it needs supporting actors in order to function.

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One Response to Air Supply – The One that you Love

  1. RBerman says:

    The production is a very typical 70s soft rock arrangement like many Barry Manilow songs, e.g. “Weekend in New England” or “Mandy,” that start with piano and vocal and swell into the full orchestra, usually with a whole step key modulation after the bridge. The verse begins with an unusual chord progression.

    The lyrics are oddly nonspecific. He doesn’t want her (him? The lyrics are that vague.) to leave in the morning. Is this a groupie one night stand? Seems awfully lovey-dovey for that, unless the vagueness (“Understand: the one that you love/ loves you in so many ways”) masks a bluff. The end of a longer term relationship? One of the many “about to leave on tour” songs? What is it that “We have the right to know”? If “Love is everywhere; I know it is,” why all the apprehension? The only lyric that rings true is, “I don’t know what to say.” Yeah, we get that, chief. I like the group (really just a duo), the sound, and even the song, but the words are just a mess.

    This was their only Number One song, so this is as good a place as any to mention three better hits they had. In the “reconnecting with my woman” song department, “Lost in Love” opens with a great image: “The best part of love is the thinnest slice that you don’t get for much.” In the “separated by life on the road” category that’s inspired many a pop tune, the song “All Out of Love” opens with the very relatable, “I’m lying alone with my head on the phone, thinking of you ’til it hurts.” And then there’s the cataclysmic Jim Steinman love song “Making Love Out of Nothing At All,” about which more can be said when Bonnie Tyler has the #1 spot in the near future.

    As far as the Russells themselves (what confuson that the first name of one guy is the last name of the other; I still don’t have them straight), they didn’t start kicking around the US charts until their fifth album, but then they had eight Top Ten singles in five years. I’m sure rock-n-rollers like Chuck Berry or Little Richard are baffled that this sort of music is called “soft rock” when it really has much more in common with late 50s romantic crooner groups like The Drifters, or Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, or pre-rock ballads for that matter.

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