The Story of... 'Only You' by Yazoo

1 August 2018, 12:11

By Tom Eames

It has become one of the most covered love songs of all time.

With the beauty of Alison Moyet's vocals and the pathos of Vince Clarke's lyrics, 'Only You' by Yazoo was a truly fantastic track from the synthpop era of the early 1980s.

But what inspired the song and who has performed it since? Here are all the facts...

  1. Who wrote 'Only You'?

    In 1981, Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode, citing touring fatigue and a growing disdain for pop fame as his reasons for the departure.

    Worried that Mute Records would drop him as a result, he decided to write a song for the label called 'Only You'.

    Clarke originally wrote the music for the song on a guitar, and later converted the riff into synthesizer notes.

    While writing the lyrics, Clarke said: "It was a very simple arrangement. I just formed words on a piece of paper. I was just hoping Daniel Miller, Mute Records founder, would like it".

    However, Before Clarke gave the song to Miller, he offered the song to Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, but they declined.

  2. How did Alison Moyet join Yazoo?

    Yazoo
    Picture: BBC

    Clarke wrote 'Only You' as a sentimental ballad, and wanted to find a singer who could perform it with emotion.

    At the same time, The Screamin' Ab Dabs split, and singer Alison Moyet placed an ad in Melody Maker looking for a new band.

    Clarke had heard Moyet perform with other bands on the pub circuit, and felt she was a perfect fit for the song. He replied to the ad and asked Moyet if she was interested in singing for a demo.

    Although reluctant at first, as she never wanted to perform pop songs at the time, she eventually agreed. Moyet later said: "A part of me was thinking I'll never hear the end of it if I go and sing with this pretty boy".

    After recording a demo on a four-track tape recorder, Clarke gave it to Miller, who at first wasn't much of a fan. Later that day, publishing associates from Scandinavia heard the demo and liked it, which Clarke later suggested may have influenced Miller's opinion.

    A week later, Miller told Clarke that he and Moyet should re-record the song as a group and release it as a single. Moyet was surprised, as neither she or Clarke had intended to start a band together, and knew virtually nothing about each other.

    Moyet described the pairing as "almost like an arranged marriage". The new duo chose the name Yazoo from the specialist blues record label, Yazoo Records. This decision led to a £3.5 million lawsuit threat by the label, and the group were renamed Yaz in the US.

  3. What inspired 'Only You'?

    'Only You' is considered a 'torch song', and is about the end of a relationship.

    The singer knows the difficult relationship is over, but desperately hopes to be proven wrong.

    NME noted how the song could have initially been about Clarke's uneasy relationship with Depeche Mode, but Moyet then turned the lyrics into the story of a person "looking through a scrapbook of photo-like memories".

  4. How did it perform in the charts?

    Yazoo
    Picture: BBC

    'Only You' reached number two in the UK chart, behind Nicole's Eurovision-winning song 'A Little Peace'.

    It only peaked at number 67 in the US.

  5. We have no idea why they chose this as the cover art

    Yazoo - Only You
    Picture: Mute
  6. The Flying Pickets scored a huge number one with a cover

    An a cappella version by The Flying Pickets proved even more successful, after it was released the following year.

    It reached the top spot, and even won the Christmas number one for 1983. It was also the first a cappella chart-topper in the UK.

    Because of this, 'Only You' has often been associated with Christmas, with subsequent cover versions having a festive feel to it.

  7. Who else has covered it?

    Many! Including:

    - Enrique Iglesias
    - Joshua Radin (above)
    - Kylie Minogue and James Corden
    - Selena Gomez
    - Judy Collins
    - Jason Donovan
    - Smith & Burrows

  8. What are the lyrics?

    Looking from a window above, it's like a story of love
    Can you hear me
    Came back only yesterday
    I'm moving further away
    Want you near me

    All I needed was the love you gave
    All I needed for another day
    And all I ever knew
    Only you

    Sometimes when I think of her name
    When it's only a game
    And I need you
    Listen to the words that you say
    It's getting harder to stay
    When I see you

    All I needed was the love you gave
    All I needed for another day
    And all I ever knew
    Only you

    All I needed was the love you gave
    All I needed for another day
    And all I ever knew
    Only you

    This is going to take a long time
    And I wonder what's mine
    Can't take no more
    Wonder if you'll understand
    It's just the touch of your hand
    Behind a closed door

    All I needed was the love you gave
    All I needed for another day
    And all I ever knew
    Only you