How Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones composed a transatlantic hit that he thought came native "a greater force"


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Insomnia had its services for Mick Jones in the 80s. Together night fell on the circus his life had become since Foreigner released your all-conquering album, 4, in 1981, the guitarist discovered himself through room to breathe and also time to write.

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“I always worked late at night, as soon as everybody left and the phone quit ringing,” Jones recalls. “I desire To recognize What Love Is came up at 3 in the morning at some time in 1984. I don’t understand where it come from. I take into consideration it a gift the was sent out through me. Ns think there to be something bigger 보다 me behind it. I’d speak it was most likely written totally by a greater force.”

As he satellite at the key-board in the studio that his Kensington apartment, Jones couldn’t decide if his heart was half-empty or half-full. “The tune was one expression of mine tempestuous private life over the three years before,” he says, explaining its meaning. “I’d been with a divorce, and met someone else that I was going to marry. There’d been chaos in the band through the large pressure that selling countless albums, and also me and Lou were entering a cold-war situation. I’d just come ago to England from brand-new York and was happy to be in touch v my roots. For this reason it to be an emotionally time that stirred increase a the majority of things.

“That night i only controlled the title, the opening chords and the chorus,” Jones adds, “but that was sufficient to do me go into the bedroom wherein my soon-to-be wife was asleep and tell she I had actually an idea for a song dubbed I desire To know What Love Is. She simply fixed me with this strange look and said : ‘What perform you mean? don’t you already know what love is?’. Ns dragged her into the studio come hear it, which must say something. You always know as soon as you’ve got something strong, and also this song definitely moved me.”


Jones was happy enough with the song to hand it end to Gramm, bassist rick Wills and also drummer Dennis Elliott because that Foreigner’s forthcoming Agent Provocateur album. “But i was still searching for ways to enhance it in a spirituality way,” the remembers. “I’d even considered approaching Aretha Franklin.


“In the finish I was having actually lunch through a guy who ran a gospel music label. He sent out me a bunch of albums, and one to be by the brand-new Jersey fixed Choir. As soon as I heard them, I automatically had the finished track in mine head. So i drove out to new Jersey and also watched them in rehearsals, and it sounded fantastic. They were fresh; they’d never recorded a tendency album before.”

It would take one much more divine treatment to gain I want To understand What Love Is under on tape. “We got around 30 that the choir into the appropriate Track studio in brand-new York,” explains Jones. “We walk a few takes, and also it to be good, yet it was still a little bit tentative. So climate they all obtained round in a circle, held hands and said The Lord’s Prayer. and it appeared to accumulate them, since after the they did it in one take. I was in tears, since my mum and dad to be in the studio too, and it was so emotional.”

Even the number-crunchers at Atlantic records couldn’t withstand the emotional strength of I want To recognize What Love Is.


“Ahmet Ertegün, the so late president the Atlantic, had constantly been my mentor,” Jones recalls. “I invited him down to the studio one night, closeup of the door the door and said: ‘Look, I just want to play girlfriend one song and hear what you think.’ This is somebody who discovered Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, so his opinion was rather important. So us sat there and also listened, and also after the very first chorus i looked end in his direction and also tears were rolling under his cheeks. I thought: ‘My God! I’ve excellent it!’ He was away with the music’.”


The relax of I want To recognize What Love Is, at the end of 1984. Shown that, for much better or worse, this most personal of late-night confessionals had a an interpretation that win a global chord.

“It was No.1 worldwide,” Jones says, “and i doubt there room many civilization who i can not use heard it. It was played top top the radio all roughly the world. And I started obtaining letters from world who weren’t necessarily fans however had found comfort in that tune at time of suffering and sadness. Everybody took their own definition from it. And that’s every you deserve to hope for together a writer.”

Indeed the just dissent came from within Foreigner, with Gramm bemoaning the band’s brand-new public perception together balladeers, and publicly disowning the song that earned them it.

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“He began to say the later,” Jones recalls. “I think it to be to carry out with the wanting come break far from the band, and he decided that together something to speak about.

“The fact is, there to be softer songs on previous albums. But, as it was Christmas, the brand wanted to relax I desire To understand What Love Is. If we’d gone v a different an initial single that would have been interpreted differently. But I to be always really proud that it, and also thankful I was able to write it.”


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