Yazoo, who were known in America as Yaz, was the duo of instrumentalist/programmer Vince Clarke and vocalist Alison Moyet. Clarke was an original member of Depeche Mode, and wrote this song for them. He was about to leave the band in late 1981, and he wanted them to have a good single starting off 1982. Depeche Mode didn't want it; instead they released "See You," a song Martin Gore wrote when he was only 15. This song ended up on Yazoo's debut album.
This was the first song Clarke and Moyet recorded together. In our 2010 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 us 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 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, Yazoo split up, with Clarke teaming up 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."
This has appeared on a number of TV shows, including episodes of The Office, Fringe and Cold Case. In 2014, Yaz was part of the storyline on the "Dimebag" episode of The Americans, which was set at the time this song was popular. In the episode, a Russian spy is seducing a teenage girl, who plays this song for him. He later buys the album for his teenage daughter.
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.