When I Need You

Album: Endless Flight (1977)
Charted: 1 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Albert Hammond wrote this with Carole Bayer Sager. The song deals with Hammond's personal experiences being away from home and his loved one.
  • This was Leo Sayer's sixth hit in the UK and third in the US, but his first he had not co-written.
  • Leo Sayer regained the rights to this song in the early '90s after a legal tussle and re-issued it in 1993 with little success.
  • Leo Sayer was born Gerard Hugh Sayer at Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England. He first came to the notice of the record-buying public early in 1973 when the debut solo LP by Roger Daltrey of The Who was released featuring songs by Sayer and Dave Courtney. Included on the album was a single "Giving It All Away," which was a Top 5 hit for the Who frontman. At the end of 1973 Sayer launched his own solo career under the guidance of Adam Faith. His first single "The Show Must Go On" raced to #2 in the UK charts while Sayer performed the song with a whitened face and a clown's outfit. In America it was covered by Three Dog Night, who took it to the Top 5. Sayer carried on over the next 10 years recording a succession of hits. These have included his other US #1 "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" (also #2 in UK), the remake of Bobby Vee's "More Than I Can Say" (#2 in both the UK & US) and his other transatlantic Top 10 "Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)." In the early '80s he had his own BBC television series.
  • Leo says about this song in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, "I was still a singer/songwriter and so I had to find something I believed in. Then cool, it would be no problem. There was a lot of compromising but I liked Albert Hammond's songs and of course, Carole wrote "Groovy Kind Of Love." "99 Miles From LA," "The Air That I Breathe" and "It Never Rains In Southern California" were all great songs, so I put on "When I Need You" and wow! My wife, Janice, was home in England and those were the words I wanted to say on the phone. To me it was like a blues, and we recorded it first with Booker T on organ and I did it like Otis Redding doing "I've Been Loving You Too Long." It was completely wrong for the song, and we went back to how it was on the demo." In the final version the keyboards are played by James Newton and Michael Omartian rather than Booker T.
  • This has been a Top 40 hit in the UK on two other occasions: a #5 hit in 1998 for the actor Will Mellor and a #38 hit in 2007 for Cliff Richard. Cliff Richard had a previous connection with Leo Sayer, as Sayer wrote Cliff Richard's 1980 UK Top 10 hit "Dreamin.'"
  • Leonard Cohen sued Hammond and Bayer Sager over a piece of the chorus melody that was similar to his "Famous Blue Raincoat." Even though Hammond wrote the music, Bayer Sager was still party to the claim because the credit attributed the music and lyrics to both of them. Cohen recalled to the Globe & Mail in 2006: "Somebody sued them on my behalf... and they did settle, even though they hired a musicologist, who said that particular motif was in the public domain and, in fact, could be traced back as far as Schubert."
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Comments: 10

  • G from Somewhere Inn, CanadaThe original album version of "When I Need You" that doesn't have the annoying saxophone was available on the Love Ballads CD in 1991 from Japan. I haven't seen the original version anywhere else on CD. Check Discogs for sellers that have this CD: https://www.discogs.com/Leo-Sayer-Love-Ballads/release/4416736
  • Hans from SwedenI have the version without the sax solo, on the LP "Leo Sayer" (SHM 3118). That solo still sounds out of place to my ears.
  • Adrian Chan from MalaysiaThe closest similarity with this song would be Richard Marx's Right Here Waiting...the pain on being separated from loved ones.
  • Jack from Mesa, AzI really like this song but I think it's about um, pleasuring one's self?
  • George from Minneapolis, MnJust located the saxless version on a YouTube video. Unfortunately, the audio ends just a second or two prior to the full fade. Still, good to hear: http://youtu.be/AwYmj4idbDM
  • George from Minneapolis, MnIn 1976 when "Endless Flight" was first released, I was a DJ at a top 40 radio station in Decatur, Alabama. We got a lot of our records...wonderful vinyl... from a local record store to play on the air. We grabbed a copy of Leo's new album probably within a couple of weeks after it was released. The version on that album of "When I Need You" did not have the sax solo. Every single copy of the song I have ever heard since that super early store bought copy of the album has had the sax. Would LOVE to have a copy without it now, as, it simply was a better version, IMHO.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhI'm not sure why, but for me, many songs to seem to have a little nuance towards the end, which is what makes you listen to it the whole way thru: to hear that little tweak that makes the tune memorable. In this song, it's the subtle way Leo sings the last couple lines: ".....and aaaaall I wanna give you......it's only a HEART beat away...." The way he slightly changes the cadence of 'heart beat' ~ just some kind of very contained passion, and almost like his own heart is skipping a beat to make a point. I didn't realize till reading the above about this song that Sayer had so many hits. What a babyface he was!
  • Bobby from Carbondale, PaI had the album in the 1970's. The album version did not have the sax solo, I heard it was added later, to release it as a single. The radio stations probably played it from the album.
  • Jim from Hanford , CaI too used to hear the version without the sax solo on KRTH 101 in Los Angeles. I haven't heard it since the 70s. I'd certainly like to get a copy as some of my music "expert" friends think I'm just making up a story.

    Jim Dudley...Hanford, CA
  • Charles from Lincoln, NeI was wondering about a radio copy of "when I need you" w/o the sax solo. The sations here in Lincoln,Ne. played this version on all AM stations. Does anyone know what this copy was & was it a Warner Bros. realase ? I perchased a few radio copies on line & all have the sax solo on them. Where does this album or 45 originate or where would be a good place or person to contact about this mystery ? Thanks & have a great week ahead. chas.
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