“It Was The Most-Played Song of The 20th Century. The Righteous Brothers Will Show You Why…”

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” became the most played song of the century on American radio, with over eight million spins. It’s one of those classic starting lines: “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips.” That statement alluded to rising darkness and impending disaster. And throughout the course of the song’s nearly four minutes, the whisper grows into a storm. Bill Medley’s voice fills the room with its perpetually deep baritone.

It’s an incredible piece of music, a widescreen ballad that treats teenage feelings with all of the operatic folly they require at the time.Before collaborating, Medley and his Righteous Brother Bobby Hatfield were Southern Californian youths performing blue-eyed soul in separate bands.

They had a couple of minor singles on a smaller label before Phil Spector discovered them opening for the Ronettes at San Francisco’s Cow Palace and signed them to his Phillies label. Songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil attempted to write a ballad similar to the Four Tops’ “Baby I Need Your Loving.”

And then Spector poured everything he had into recording it, turning it into one of his definitive statements. Spector, along with the Righteous Brothers and the legendary session musicians in the Wrecking Crew, spent days on the song in the studio, recording it over and over. Spector made the musicians wear headphones — a new thing at the time — so that they could hear how much echo he was putting on them. (A young Cher was one of the backing singers.)

And then Spector layered up their performances, again and again, so that they sounded huge, overwhelming. Spector spent tens of thousands on the recording, and he talked later about getting ulcers stressing out about whether people would get the song.Bill Medley with Phil SpectorSome people didn’t. A few people, when they first heard “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” wondered if they heard it on the wrong speed.

The Righteous Brothers themselves weren’t entirely comfortable with the song; it was a significant departure from the barrelhouse R&B that they’d been recording. Bobby Hatfield was upset that his voice wasn’t even on the song until the chorus, asked Spector what he was supposed to do when Medley was singing.

Spector’s answer: “You can go directly to the bank.” And Spector employed every trick he could think of to make sure the song got played — even lying, on the record’s label, that the running time was 3:05. Radio programmers, he reasoned, might be hesitant to play a song as long as 3:45.But people did get it. George Martin produced a rival version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” for the British singer Cilla Black.

But when that song began to climb the UK charts, the Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham took up a full-page Melody Maker ad declaring the Righteous Brothers’ rendition the “last word in Tomorrow’s sound Today.” By the year 2000, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” had received over eight million spins on American radio, making it the most played song of the century.And listening to the song now, it’s difficult to picture anyone not understanding it. It sweeps you up like a wave. All of that swooshing, shattering reverb serves to heighten the sense of being cast adrift, unable to resist the tragedy staring you in the face.

Producers would soon come up with cleaner ways to achieve the sense of symphonic sweep. But the bridge—”We had a love!” A love! You don’t find this kind of affection every day! So, don’t! Don’t! Don’t! It is anything near to pop-music perfection.”The harmonies, presentation, and overall quality of this video. One of the best videos on YouTube.

“So professional, and no group has ever equaled the Righteous Brothers; they were and continue to be the best,” says one fan. Following the huge success of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” the Righteous Brothers released another famous record, “Unchained Melody,” in 1965.

Of the hundreds of covers made since that time, the Righteous Brothers version, with a solo by Bobby Hatfield, became the jukebox standard for the late 20th century. Hatfield changed the melody and many subsequent covers of the song are based on his version.Now watch this fantastic performance of one of the most played songs in music history. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. Would you like to see more of the Righteous Brothers?

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