Only You

Album: Upstairs at Eric's (1982)
Charted: 2 67
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Yazoo, known in America as Yaz, were the duo of instrumentalist/programmer Vince Clarke and vocalist Alison Moyet. Clarke was an original member of Depeche Mode and wrote "Only You" for them. He was about to leave the band in late 1981 and he wanted them to have a good single to start off 1982. Depeche Mode didn't want it; instead they released "See You," a song Martin Gore wrote when he was only 15. "Only You" ended up on Yazoo's debut album, Upstairs At Eric's, in 1982.

    This was the first song Clarke and Moyet recorded together. In a 2010 Songfacts interview with Vince Clarke, he explained: "One of the big reasons I asked Alison to sing 'Only You' was because I felt that it was a ballad that needed someone with a soulful voice. And it wasn't like I thought to myself, 'Okay, you have a chance to marry electronics with song.' It just turned out that way, and it happened Alison had a great voice, and it worked really well."
  • With his departure from Depeche Mode imminent, Clarke was looking for a female vocalist to sing on this track. He told Songfacts how he found Moyet: "The first time I heard her sing, she was in a punk band called the Vandals. And my best friend, Rob, he was the guitarist for the Vandals, and they played at one of the local pubs. And then I saw her a couple of times after that. She sang for an R&B band. So when I finally had her do this demo with me, I knew she had a great voice."
  • The Clarke/Moyet partnership was supposed to be just for this single, but when it took off, the record company asked them to make a whole album, which they did. After one more album (You And Me Both, 1983), Yazoo split up, with Clarke teaming with Andy Bell to form Erasure in 1985.

    When we spoke with Clarke, he told us that this song stands out among his work. Said Clarke: "'Only You' I'm very proud of, because it almost makes sense lyrically. (laughs) And lots of people seem to like that song, so that would be one of my favorites. I've tried to write lyrics that perhaps express the way I feel sometimes. I've struggled with that feeling. I find it easier to write lyrics about someone else's situation other than my own."
  • This song deserves a place in the "History of Electronic Music" playlist, as it merged a warmer synthesizer sound with a jazz-styled female vocalist. Along with Clarke's lyrics about a desire and longing for a loved one, it was a step forward in electronica.
  • The British group Flying Picketts recorded an a cappella version of this song in 1983, earning the coveted Christmas #1 spot on the UK charts that year. It was also the first a cappella song to hit the top of the UK charts. Considering that Vince Clarke has a hard time pouring his soul into words, he did a pretty good job on this one.
  • Vince Clarke told Mojo magazine February 2013 that this song was directly influenced by Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence." He said: "It was written on guitar, a very simple melody with a kind of understated, uplifting chorus, and I hoped the words were kind of poetic."
  • "Only You" has appeared in a number of TV shows, including episodes of The Office ("Christmas Special: Part 2" - 2003), Fringe ("Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11" - 2012) and Cold Case ("Bombers" - 2010). In 2014, Yaz was part of the storyline on the "Dimebag" episode of The Americans, which was set at the time the song was popular. In the episode, a Russian spy is seducing a teenage girl who plays this song for him. The spy later buys the album for his teenage daughter.
  • This was used in the movies Can't Hardly Wait (1998), A Home At The End Of The World (2004), Take Me Home Tonight (2011), and Behaving Badly (2014).
  • Becky Hill covered this for a McDonald's 2022 Christmas ad. Her twinkly acoustic version is more reminiscent of The Flying Pickets' rendition than Yazoo's original track.

Comments: 11

  • Geoff from Los AngelesI had almost forgotten about that video. So eerie and tender at the same time. So 1982.
  • Nicole from TorontoThis song was on one of the more recent seasons of The Americans when Matthew Rhys' character buys the record for his daughter.
  • Nicole from TorontoIt is also in the move Austenland starring Keri Russell, who is, interestingly, also one of the lead characters on The Americans. I think this song is in quite a few movies.
  • Rick from Mason City, IaOne of the best songs ever!! Nice done Vince!!!
  • Leigh from Abernathy, Txnever heard this song until I heard it on "Cold Case" the other night...loved it..wrote it down to remember it....Love this song!!
  • Scott from Baton Rouge, LaYaz rocks!Great song.Quintessential 80's tune.Hey,where's "Situation" and "Don't Go" on here ?
  • Louise from Newcastle, United KingdomAh, I've loved this song for ages.
  • Rob from Lincoln, EnglandThe Flying Pickets' version was released as a single in the early 80s and was Number One at Christmas time. Since then it's appeared on numerous Christmas compilation CDs, even though it's not at all a festive song!
  • Christy from Southlake, TxThis song was also in the movie Can't Hardly Wait. It was played at the end of the movie.
  • Justin from Felts Mills, NyThis song was played during the two-part finale of "The Office."
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InGreat song. This is so 80's and can be found on the soundtrack to Nepolean Dynamite.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Richard Marx

Richard MarxSongwriter Interviews

Richard explains how Joe Walsh kickstarted his career, and why he chose Hazard, Nebraska for a hit.

Dan Reed

Dan ReedSongwriter Interviews

Dan cracked the Top 40 with "Ritual," then went to India and spent 2 hours with the Dalai Lama.

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum

Dave Pirner of Soul AsylumSongwriter Interviews

Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.

Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles

Timothy B. Schmit of the EaglesSongwriter Interviews

Did this Eagle come up with the term "Parrothead"? And what is it like playing "Hotel California" for the gazillionth time?

Yacht Rock Quiz

Yacht Rock QuizFact or Fiction

Christopher Cross with Deep Purple? Kenny Loggins in Caddyshack? A Fact or Fiction all about yacht rock and those who made it.

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")Song Writing

Wes Edwards takes us behind the scenes of videos he shot for Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Chase Bryant. The train was real - the airplane was not.