I'm Not In Love

10cc

4 cover versions of this song

Original 1,673,458 plays
Tori Amos144,666 plays
Fun Lovin' Criminals85,680 plays
Kelsey Lu4,815 plays
Song Sung2,007 plays
"I'm Not in Love" is a song by English group 10cc, written by band members Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman. It is notable for its innovative and distinctive backing track, composed mostly of the band's multitracked vocals. Released in the UK in May 1975 as the second single from the band's third album The Original Soundtrack, it became the second of the group's three number-one singles in the UK between 1973 and 1978, topping the UK singles chart for two weeks. The song was also the band's breakthrough hit worldwide, reaching number one in Ireland and Canada and number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, as well as reaching the top ten in Australia, New Zealand and several European countries.

Written mostly by Stewart as a riposte to his wife's declaration that Stewart did not tell her he loved her often enough, "I'm Not in Love" was originally conceived as a bossa nova song played on guitars, but the other two members of the band, [aritst]Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, disliked the track and it was abandoned. However, after hearing members of staff continue to sing the melody around their studio, Stewart persuaded the group that they should give the song another chance, to which Godley replied that for the song to work it needed to be radically changed, and suggested that the band should try and create a new version using just voices.

"I'm Not in Love" has enjoyed lasting popularity, with over three million plays on US radio since its release, and it won three Ivor Novello Awards in 1976 for Best Pop Song, International Hit of the Year, and Most Performed British Work. It has featured in the films The Virgin Suicides, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. The song has been covered by numerous artists, most notably by the American band Will to Power, whose version reached the US and Canadian top ten in 1991.

Stewart came up with the idea for the song after his wife, to whom he had been married for eight years at that point, asked him why he didn't say "I love you" more often to her. Stewart said, "I had this crazy idea in my mind that repeating those words would somehow degrade the meaning, so I told her, 'Well, if I say every day "I love you, darling, I love you, blah, blah, blah", it's not gonna mean anything eventually'. That statement led me to try to figure out another way of saying it, and the result was that I chose to say 'I'm not in love with you', while subtly giving all the reasons throughout the song why I could never let go of this relationship." Stewart wrote most of the melody and the lyrics on the guitar before taking it to the studio, where Gouldman offered to help him complete the song. Gouldman suggested some different chords for the melody, and also came up with the intro and the bridge section of the song. Stewart said that the pair spent two or three days writing the song, which at that point had a bossa nova rhythm and principally featured guitars, before playing it to Godley and Creme. Stewart recorded a version with the other three members playing the song in the studio on traditional instruments – Creme on guitar, Gouldman on bass and Godley on drums – but Godley and Creme disliked the song, particularly Godley, as Stewart later recalled: "He said, 'It's crap', and I said, 'Oh right, OK, have you got anything constructive to add to that? Can you suggest anything?' He said, 'No. It's not working, man. It's just crap, right? Chuck it.' And we did. We threw it away and we even erased it, so there's no tape of that bossa nova version."

Having abandoned "I'm Not in Love", Stewart and Gouldman turned their attention to the track "Une nuit a Paris", which Godley and Creme had been working on and which would later become the opening track on The Original Soundtrack album. However, Stewart noticed that members of staff in the band's Strawberry Studios were still singing the melody of "I'm Not in Love", and this convinced him to ask the other members of the group to consider reviving the song. Godley was still sceptical, but came up with a radical idea, telling Stewart, "I tell you what, the only way that song is gonna work is if we totally fuck it up and we do it like nobody has ever recorded a thing before. Let's not use instruments. Let's try to do it all with voices." Although taken aback by the suggestion, Stewart and the others agreed to try Godley's idea and create "a wall of sound" of vocals that would form the focal point of the record.

Stewart spent three weeks recording Gouldman, Godley and Creme singing "ahhh" 16 times for each note of the chromatic scale, building up a "choir" of 48 voices for each note of the scale. The main problem facing the band was how to keep the vocal notes going for an infinite length of time, but Creme suggested that they could get round this issue by using tape loops. Stewart created loops of about 12 feet in length by feeding the loop at one end though the tape heads of the stereo recorder in the studio, and at the other end through a capstan roller fixed to the top of a microphone stand, and tensioned the tape. By creating long loops the 'blip' caused by the splice in each tape loop could be drowned out by the rest of the backing track, providing that the blips in each loop did not coincide with each other. Having created twelve tape loops for each of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale, Stewart recorded each loop to a separate track of the mixing desk. This effectively turned the mixing desk into a musical instrument complete with all the notes of the chromatic scale, which the four members together then "played", fading up three or four channels at a time to create "chords" for the song's melody. Stewart had put gaffer's tape across the bottom of each channel, which meant it was impossible to completely fade down the tracks for each note: this resulted in the constant background hiss of vocals heard throughout the song. The same voice loop effect was used in Billy Joel's ballad "Just the Way You Are", released two years later.

A basic guide track was recorded first in order to help create the melody using the vocals, but the proper instrumentation was added after the vocals had been recorded. In keeping with Godley's idea to focus on the voices, only a few instruments were used: a Fender Rhodes electric piano played by Stewart, a Gibson 335 electric guitar played by Gouldman for the rhythm melody, and a bass drum sound played by Godley on a Moog synthesizer which Creme had recently purchased and learnt how to program. The drum sound that was created was very soft and more akin to a heartbeat, in order not to overpower the rest of the track. The song does not feature a standard bass guitar line, but Gouldman added a bass guitar solo during the middle eight of the song, and Creme played piano during the middle eight and the bridge. The middle eight originally included lyrics, but Stewart and Gouldman were not happy with them and removed them, with Creme's piano replicating the original melody of the discarded lyrics. The middle eight and the outro also feature a toy music box which was recorded and double tracked out of phase.

Once the musical backing had been completed Stewart recorded the lead vocal and Godley and Creme the backing vocals, but even though the song was finished Godley felt it was still lacking something. Stewart said, "Lol remembered he had said something into the grand piano mics when he was laying down the solos. He'd said 'Be quiet, big boys don't cry' — heaven knows why, but I soloed it and we all agreed that the idea sounded very interesting if we could just find the right voice to speak the words. Just at that point the door to the control room opened and our secretary Kathy [Redfern] looked in and whispered 'Eric, sorry to bother you. There's a telephone call for you.' Lol jumped up and said 'That's the voice, her voice is perfect!'" The group agreed that Redfern was the ideal person, but Redfern was unconvinced and had to be coaxed into recording her vocal contribution, using the same whispered voice that she had used when entering the control room. These whispered lyrics would later serve as the inspiration for the name of the 1980s band Boys Don't Cry.

According to Stewart, at the time of recording The Original Soundtrack the band was already being courted by Mercury Records (part of the Phonogram group) to leave Jonathan King's small UK Records label, where they were struggling financially. He said: "I rang them. I said come and have a listen to what we've done, come and have a listen to this track. And they came up and they freaked, and they said, 'This is a masterpiece. How much money, what do you want? What sort of a contract do you want? We'll do anything.' On the strength of that one song, we did a five-year deal with them for five albums and they paid us a serious amount of money." Despite impressing their new label with the track, Phonogram felt that it was not suitable for release as a single due to its length, and released "Life Is a Minestrone" as the first single from The Original Soundtrack instead. However, many influential figures in the music industry were demanding that "I'm Not in Love" be released as a single, and Mercury eventually bowed to the pressure and released it as the second single from the album. The band were forced to edit the track down to four minutes for radio play, but once it charted pressure from the public and the media caused the radio stations to revert to playing the full version.

Released in May 1975, "I'm Not in Love" became the band's second number-one single and stayed at the top of the UK singles chart for two weeks from 28 June. In the US the record peaked at number two in on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, deprived of the top spot by a different number-one song each week (Van McCoy's "The Hustle", Eagles' "One of These Nights", and the Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'"). In the UK the single was released in its full length version of over six minutes, while in the US and Canada it was released in an edited 3:42 version, and with a different B-side. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.