Love Is A Stranger

Album: Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (1983)
Charted: 6 23
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Eurythmics made some very memorable songs about the complexities of love. In this one, love is a stranger, sleek by design, savage and cruel. Yet we can't get enough of it.

    The duo was comprised of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox, who were a couple for about three years before they formed Eurythmics. They found they could work together quite well despite (or perhaps because of) their romantic past.

    Lennox says the song is about "love objects," adding, "the concept of love in relationships is very often a person projecting what they want onto another person. We are all in love with the idea of love but what we want is not always good for us. We might get obsessed with something very dangerous. I wanted to put these ideas into a pop song."
  • Dave Stewart said that lyrically, this song is a very simple idea. "To me it's like a contemporary love song," he said. "I don't mean written with contemporary music but the lyrics are how things are at the moment unlike, say, the love songs of the '50s. A lot of people nowadays want to be single and separate. The song is a comment on that."
  • Eurythmics were using unusual electronic instruments at this time, including a Yamaha Omnichord that plays throughout this song. Stewart got one in Japan. He describes it as a cross between a toy and an instrument - it's what he used to create the childlike textures in the soundscape. For the steady beat he used a more traditional instrument: a Roland SH-01 synthesizer.
  • If you're looking for evidence of Annie Lennox as a world-class vocalist, listen to the way she sings the word "obsession" in this song. In The Dave Stewart Songbook, he explained: "When Annie lays down a vocal it's a special moment because something happens between her mouth and the microphone, a lot like when the camera falls in love with an actress. The microphone likes her, and with the right one and a good balance in her headphones she can play with her sound and be herself one minute and within a second flip into a character and out again, even if it's just for one word like 'obsession.' This vocal, like many other songs we recorded, was only one take and was, as always, remarkable."
  • Released on their second album, "Love Is A Stranger" was Eurythmics' fifth UK single and, like the previous four, it initially flopped. But then "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" took off, rising to #2 in the UK and #1 in America thanks to a beguiling video that aired constantly on MTV. "Love Is A Stranger" was then released in the US for the first time and re-released in the UK, becoming a hit in both territories.
  • The song was produced by Dave Stewart and Adam Williams and was self-financed at Eurythmics' 8-track facility above a picture framing factory in Chalk Farm, London. They decided on a simpler arrangement than their previous singles, emphasizing Annie's vocals.

    Said Lennox: "We did decide for 'Love Is A Stranger' that everything in it would be very clear. All that is there is seen to be there and nothing is hidden in a big mush of sound."

    Stewart added: "Using our own 8-track we hear a song millions of times and the melody in it is always apparent to us. We realized it might not be so obvious for people hearing the song for the first time."
  • The single was accompanied by a music video that saw Annie Lennox in a number of different character guises, which she became known for in subsequent videos. At one stage of the video Annie removes a curly blonde wig to reveal close-cropped orange hair underneath, giving her an androgynous look.

    "The video is basically a little cameo story," she explained. "In the video, a very expensive looking limousine draws up outside a house and very pricey-looking whore leaves the house, gets into the car and is driven away by the chauffeur. Obviously a whore is a very expensive love object for sale. In the car she pulls off the wig to reveal another personality. She arrives at another house as though she's delivering something, like a dealer. The person in the house is very sadistic, there's lots of leather around and strange things in the bathroom. When the person leaves that house and gets into the car, the person has become a man. The man turns into a dummy which you see is being manipulated by the driver of the car. That's the idea behind it." (All quotes except the one from The Dave Stewart Songbook are from the Mick Sinclair Archive, originally an article in Sounds. Learn more in the Songfacts interview with Dave Stewart.)
  • Martha Wainwright covered this on her 2008 album Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 1

  • Danielle from Titusville, FlCreative video shes so classy even with hair you would have to smile to put in a pony tail so short. Shes awesome almost awesome as me!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Adam Young of Owl City

Adam Young of Owl CitySongwriter Interviews

Is Owl City on a quest for another hit like "Fireflies?" Adam answers that question and explains the influences behind many others.

Tanita Tikaram

Tanita TikaramSongwriter Interviews

When she released her first album in 1988, Tanita became a UK singing sensation at age 19. She talks about her darkly sensual voice and quirky songwriting style.

Motley Crue

Motley CrueFact or Fiction

Was Dr. Feelgood a dentist? Did the "Crüecifixion" really happen?

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

Ian Anderson of Jethro TullSongwriter Interviews

The flautist frontman talks about touring with Led Zeppelin, his contribution to "Hotel California", and how he may have done the first MTV Unplugged.

Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear: Teddy Bears and Teddy Boys in Songs

Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear: Teddy Bears and Teddy Boys in SongsSong Writing

Elvis, Little Richard and Cheryl Cole have all sung about Teddy Bears, but there is also a terrifying Teddy song from 1932 and a touching trucker Teddy tune from 1976.

Dave Mason

Dave MasonSongwriter Interviews

Dave reveals the inspiration for "Feelin' Alright" and explains how the first song he ever wrote became the biggest hit for his band Traffic.