Love Is Strange

Album: Love Is Strange (1956)
Charted: 11
Play Video


  • This song was written by Bo Diddley, but he published it under the name of his wife, Ethel Smith, due to a legal dispute with his record company. His version can be found on I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958. The song is about the complexities of love - how it can be addictive and lead to madness.
  • Mickey & Sylvia are McHouston "Mickey" Baker and Sylvia Robinson (at the time, she was Sylvia Vanderpool). Their version was a drastically different take on the song, turning Bo Diddley's call-and-response portion into a conversation between Mickey and Sylvia. The spoken word portion of the song where Mickey asks, "How do you call your loverboy?" and Sylvia responds, "Hey, Loverboy," made the song quite memorable and was especially racy for the time. The coy sexuality of this portion helped advance the stoylines of several famous movies, including the 1972 adult film Deep Throat, the 1973 movie Badlands, and the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, where the main characters played by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey mimed the song to each other.
  • This was the only hit for Mickey and Sylvia, but Sylvia had a #3 US hit in 1973 with "Pillow Talk," where she effectively simulates an orgasm. More significantly, she started Sugarhill Records and put together The Sugarhill Gang, who had the breakthrough Hip-Hop hit "Rapper's Delight."
  • Buddy Holly released his version of this song in June 1957 as "Words Of Love." It didn't chart, but his next single was "Peggy Sue," which became his first hit. In the UK, The Everly Brothers 1965 version hit #11. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Peaches & Herb took this song to #13 in the US in 1967. Other artists to record the song include Sonny And Cher, Everything But The Girl, Buck Owens and Susan Raye, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, Paul McCartney, Betty Everett, and Connie Francis.
  • Mickey Baker of Mickey & Sylvia died in 2012 at age 87. He was one of the great guitarists of his time, playing sessions in the '50s for many artists, including The Drifters and Joe Turner. He taught Sylvia how to play guitar, and the duo hit the US Hot 100 eight times, the last in 1961 with "Lovedrops" (#97). While Sylvia continued as a solo artist, Mickey moved to France and played Jazz.
  • The famed songwriting duo Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote their first song together as a follow-up to "Love Is Strange." But by the time "The Kid Brother," about two teenagers whose makeup session is interrupted by a pesky younger sibling, reached Mickey & Sylvia, the duo had already split. Mickey recorded the song with his new partner, Kitty Noble, but it failed to chart.
  • Dirty Dancing screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein explained in a 2010 fan letter how the song ended up in the film. "The script says 'Baby is teaching Johnny to dance.' Kenny [Ortega, choreographer] and I worked out the routine in my motel room the night before. The executives came running onto the set after it was shot - the song was not listed on the carefully calibrated chart of songs we could afford. There was no budget for it - and worst of all - we'd had the actors 'lip synch,' meaning we couldn't replace it with a cheaper song and might have to scrap the whole scene. Luckily everyone agreed after they saw it the scene was to good to scrap. You do what you have to do."

Comments: 7

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1973 {April 14th} Sylvia Robinson performed "Pillow Talk" on the Saturday-afternoon nationally syndicated television program, 'Soul Train'...
    At the time "Pillow Talk" was at position #7 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, two weeks later it would peak at #1 {for 2 weeks}...
    It reached #3 on Billboard's Top 100 chart...
    Between 1973 and 1982 the New York City native, as a solo artist, had twelve records on the Hot Soul Singles chart, after "Pillow Talk" her next biggest hit was "Sweet Stuff", it reached #16 in 1974...
    As a member of the duo of Mickey and Sylvia she charted three times on the Hot Soul Singles chart, "Love Is Strange" {#1 in 1957}, "There Ought To Be A Law" {#8 in 1957}, and "Baby, You're So Fine" {#27 in 1961}...
    Ms. Robinson, born Sylvia Vanterpool, passed away at the age of 76 on September 29th, 2011 {congestive heart failure}...
    May both she and Don Cornelius {1936 - 2012} R.I.P.
  • Mary Helen from HomeHello, fellow music lovers. Buddy Holley covered Love is Strange, as is an Words of love is a different song which he wrote himself. Here they are:
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyI seem to remember that in the early 1960s Mickey & Sylvia released a song titled "Love Will Make You Fail In School", does anyone recall this record???
  • Joel from Columbia, ScI had never heard of this song until I heard it in the Martin Sheen/Sissy Spacek film "Badlands".
  • Marissa from Akron, OhParts of this song were included in the New York Dolls song "Trash." They say "How do you call your loverboy?" and then at the end they sing "Baby, oh baby, my sweet baby, you're the one." I happen to like that song better than this one but that's just my preference.
  • John from Nashville, TnBesides forming the first successful hip hop record label (Sugarhill), Sylvia wrote and produced such #1 r&b hits as the million-selling "Love On A Two Way Street" by the Moments and the early disco classic "Shame Shame Shame" by Shirley and Company. Mickey wrote one of the first ever instruction books on playing jazz guitar which is still in print today. This book, simply titled JAZZ GUITAR is considered the ultimate book in learning how to play this style of guitar music.
  • Jorge from Mexico, MexicoPaul and Linda McCartney's group Wings released a cover version of this song in their first (first as a group, but third as McCartney solo)album "Wings Wild Life" in 1971, and is mainly sung by Linda, the only song of the eight performed on it not written by McCartney.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Rick Springfield

Rick SpringfieldSongwriter Interviews

Rick has a surprising dark side, a strong feminine side and, in a certain TV show, a naked backside. But he still hasn't found Jessie's Girl.

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining Victims

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining VictimsSong Writing

Just like Darrin was replaced on Bewitched, groups have swapped out original members, hoping we wouldn't notice.

Danny Kortchmar

Danny KortchmarSongwriter Interviews

Danny played guitar on Sweet Baby James, Tapestry, and Running On Empty. He also co-wrote many hit songs, including "Dirty Laundry," "Sunset Grill" and "Tender Is The Night."

Vince Clarke

Vince ClarkeSongwriter Interviews

An original member of Depeche Mode, Vince went on to form Erasure and Yaz.

Charlie Daniels

Charlie DanielsSongwriter Interviews

Charlie discusses the songs that made him a Southern Rock icon, and settles the Devil vs. Johnny argument once and for all.


LecraeSongwriter Interviews

The Christian rapper talks about where his trip to Haiti and his history of addiction fit into his songs.