I Honestly Love You

Album: If You Love Me, Let Me Know (1974)
Charted: 22 1

Songfacts®:

  • This was written by the leading American songwriter Jeff Barry ("Be My Baby," "Sugar, Sugar") and the Australian singer/songwriter Peter Allen, who was working on his album Continental American. Allen brought Barry in to write, and they came up with "I Honestly Love You." They made a demo of the song for their own purposes, but somehow that demo made its way to
    Olivia Newton-John's producer John Farrar, who played it for the singer.

    Olivia loved the song, but Allen wanted to keep it for himself. Barry convinced him that letting Olivia record it was a good idea, since she was one of the most popular singers in the world, and more likely to have a hit with it. Allen agreed, and it proved a shrewd move; the song became a huge hit and helped launch Allen's career as a songwriter.
  • This song is about a couple who clearly have a spark, but are also attached to others (perhaps married). The singer explains that despite their chemistry, she's not going to do anything about it. Why? Because she honestly loves him.

    The song was written from the perspective of a guy, so the intention isn't so pure. "I thought it would be a really sexy song for a guy to sing - 'I'm not trying to sleep with you,'" Jeff Barry explained in More Songwriters on Songwriting. "I honestly love you. No one had ever said that before. And I thought any girl who would hear that would have to say, 'Well, can we just do it once?'"
  • Like most of Olivia's hits, this was produced by her fellow Australian John Farrar. Farrar was a former member of The Shadows who took up songwriting and arranging for Olivia. He had known her from the early days and he later married Pat Carroll, who for a time sang in a duet with Olivia and later became her business partner.
  • Olivia Newton-John recorded this in London. She said: "I remember in a little tiny rickety studio, it was so small. The control room was upstairs and John Farrar was up there with the engineer and I was underneath and they had to sit still because it would creak, and you'd hear it in the microphone." (courtesy: debbiekruger.com)
  • This won 1974 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance. It was Olivia Newton-John's first ever #1 in the US and Canada, and it also topped the charts in Australia.
  • Peter Allen included this song on his Continental American album and released it as a single after Newton-John's version came out. Allen, who was married to Liza Minnelli for a few years, also wrote "Don't Cry Out Loud," which was a hit in the late '70s for Melissa Manchester in the US and Elkie Brooks in the UK. In 1977 his song "I Go to Rio" shot to #1 in the Australian charts thanks to its promotional video. This showed the growing influence of the music video as a marketing tool. In 1992 he died of an AIDS-related throat cancer.
  • The song was re-released in 1977 in the US, backed with "Don't Cry For Me Argentina," and this time it reached #48. In the UK it was re-issued in 1983 peaking at #52. In 1998, Olivia recorded a new version which featured Babyface on background vocals and this time she reached #67, her first US chart single in 6 years.
  • The song is referred to in the 2001 film The Wedding Planner, when Jennifer Lopez' character Mary opines that any couple who chooses this for their wedding song is doomed to divorce in under a year.
  • This is briefly heard playing on Chief Brody's radio in the 1975 movie Jaws.
  • Andy Williams covered this on his 1974 album, You Lay So Easy On My Mind.
  • Newton-John's daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, performed a rock version of this for the "New Spin on Parent's Song" category on the short-lived MTV reality show Rock The Cradle, a singing competition with celebrity offspring as the contestants. Chloe finished in third place behind Jesse Blaze Snider (Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider's son) and winner Crosby Loggins, son of Kenny Loggins. Chloe's dad is Matt Lattanzi, a dancer and actor Newton-John met on the set of Xanadu. They were married from 1984 to 1995.
  • In her 2019 memoir, Don't Stop Believin', Newton-John recalled when she first heard the song: "My heart stopped when I heard the lyrics: 'I love you… I honestly love you.' It was so simple, with a meaning that was deeper than the ocean. Those words made me stop and think because they touched me. I could certainly relate, and I knew that everyone would be able to make those words fit their own personal story of love and perhaps even loss. Just putting the word 'honestly' into the mix made it even more poignant. No lies. No denying it. I honestly love you."
  • Newton-John recorded this in three takes, with the first take being the winner. She recalled the session: "I sang it from my heart. I'm not a power singer but more of an interpretive one. Part of that song sounds like it's almost a whisper, which seemed right because it was about the most tender and sensitive emotions in life."

Comments: 9

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1974 {August 27th} Olivia-Newton John was a guest on the nationally syndicated weekday-afternoon television program, 'The Mike Douglas Show'...
    At the time her "I Honestly Love You" was at position #26 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, five weeks later it would peak at #1 {for 2 weeks}, and it spent fifteen weeks on the Top 100...
    It also reached #1 in Australia, Canada, and on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Between 1971 and 2010 the Cambridge, England native had forty records on the Hot Top 100 chart; fifteen made the Top 10 with five reaching #1*, the above "I Honestly Love You" for 2 weeks in 1974, "Have You Ever Been Mellow" for 1 week in 1975, "You're The One That I Want (with John Travolta)" for 1 week in 1978, "Magic" for 4 weeks in 1980, and "Physical" for 10 weeks in 1981...
    Olivia Newton-John will celebrated her 71st birthday next month on September 26th, 2019...
    * And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, she never had a record peak at #2, but has had four peak at #3, "Please, Mr. Please" {1975}, "Hopelessly Devoted To You" {1978}, "A Little More Love" {1979}, and "Heart Attack" {1982}...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 17th 1976, Olivia Newton-John's first TV special, 'A Very Special Olivia Newton-John', aired on the ABC television network...
    On the special she performed the first two of her four #1 records, "I Honestly Love You" from 1974 and "Have You Ever Been Mellow" from 1975...
    At the time her "Every Face Tells A Story" was at #62 on the Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, but she didn't perform it on the show {maybe because it only peaked at #55}.
  • Christopher from Charlotte, NcPeter not only wrote it, he was the first to record it as well
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPeter Allen charted only once in the USA; the song was titled "Fly Away", it peaked at #55 in 1981. Interestingly Olivia Newton-John in a duet with John Denver released a completely different song titled "Fly Away" in 1975 and it peaked at #13!!!
  • Dane from Lima,ohio, FlThe better version of this song is with Babyface on the double disc,Gold.I prefer it over the original(something I never normally do) because it's more soulful.
  • Karen from Manchester, NhMy husband and I had our "first dance" to this (we had a VERY limited song selection), and we will be celebrating our 24th anniversary in September...so much for "The Wedding Planner" quote haha!
  • Reza from Shiraz, Irana great song from a great singer
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdOlivia actually donated Peter a house in Lecudia, California (where he spent his last days in nearby San Diego) She also did a duet on her duet albums of her and an archived shot of Peter playing on a TV show. He sang this shortly after Olivia did on his "Continental American" album.
  • Michelle from Provo, UtIf you listen to the lyrics the song talks about a woman who is in love with a man who already has a wife/lover, so thus she's in love and it will never work out.

    ("If we both were born in another place and time this moment might be ending with a kiss. There you are with yours, and here I am with mine. So I guess we'll just be leaving it at this.")
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