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"When I Need You" is a popular song written by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager. Its first appearance was as the title track of Hammond's 1976 album When I Need You. Leo Sayer's version, produced by Richard Perry, was a massive hit worldwide, reaching number 1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in February 1977 after three of his earlier singles had stalled at number 2.[2] It also reached number 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 for a single week in May 1977;[3] and the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.[4] Billboard ranked it as the No. 24 song of 1977. Sayer performed it on the second show of the third season of The Muppet Show.

"When I Need You"
Portuguese vinyl single
Single by Leo Sayer
from the album Endless Flight
B-side"I Think We Fell in Love Too Fast"
ReleasedFebruary 1977
Format7" single
GenreSoft rock[1]
Producer(s)Richard Perry
Leo Sayer singles chronology
"You Make Me Feel Like Dancing"
"When I Need You"
"How Much Love"


Melody comparisonEdit

The melody of the "hook" line, or chorus of "When I Need You" is identical to the part of the Leonard Cohen song "Famous Blue Raincoat", where the lyrics are as follows: "Jane came by with a lock of your hair, she said that you gave it to her that night, that you planned to go clear". The melody of these lyrics matches the lyrics of "When I Need You" as follows: "(When I) need you, I just close my eyes and I'm with you, and all that I so want to give you, is only a heart beat away".

In a 2006 interview with The Globe and Mail Cohen said:

I once had that nicking happen with Leo Sayer. Do you remember that song 'When I Need You'?" Cohen sings the chorus of Sayer's number one hit from 1977, then segues into 'And Jane came by with a lock of your hair', a lyric from 'Famous Blue Raincoat'. 'Somebody sued them on my behalf … and they did settle', even though, he laughs, 'they hired a musicologist, who said, that particular motif was in the public domain and, in fact, could be traced back as far as Schubert.[5]

The same melody can be heard in Elton John's "Little Jeannie" in the lyrics: "Stepped into my life from a bad dream / Making the life that I had seem / Suddenly shiny and new"


Chart performanceEdit

Cover versionsEdit

Lani Hall versionEdit

Lani Hall recorded a Spanish version of the song, titled "Si Me Amaras," (If You Loved Me), for her Grammy-winning 1985 album Es Fácil Amar, which was produced by Hammond.

Mia Martini versionEdit

Mia Martini recorded an Italian version of the song, titled "se ti voglio", for her 1977 album per amarti

Perry Como versionEdit

Perry Como covered this song for his 1977 album Where You're Concerned.

Sylvie Vartan versionEdit

Sylvie Vartan recorded a French version of the song, titled "Je Pardonne," from Album 1977 Georges,.

Rod Stewart versionEdit

Rod Stewart recorded the song for his 1996 ballad compilation album If We Fall in Love Tonight. This version was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and was released as the second single from the album, though it did not chart in the US or UK.

Celine Dion versionEdit

"When I Need You"
Single by Celine Dion
from the album Let's Talk About Love
Released7 September 1998 (1998-09-07)
FormatPromotional recording
Recorded1997 Chartmarker Studios, Paramount Studios
Producer(s)David Foster
Celine Dion singles chronology
"When I Need You"
"I Hate You Then I Love You"

"When I Need You" is a promotional single from Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love album, released on 7 September 1998 in Brazil only.[19]

Background and releaseEdit

After Dion finished her Falling into You Tour in June 1997, she began to record her next English album. Dion and her manager and husband René Angélil wanted to include few cover versions on it. David Foster came up with the idea of recording Leo Sayer's hit "When I Need You". The song, recorded at Paramount Studios and Chartmaker Studios, was produced by Foster and included on Dion's Let's Talk About Love album, released on 15 November 1997. Dion performed this song during the Let's Talk About Love avec Julie Snyder Canadian TV show in late 1997.

After a string of successful singles like "My Heart Will Go On" and "Immortality", Sony Music Entertainment decided to release "When I Need You" as a promotional single in Brazil (September 1998). Two previous singles were very successful in Brazil. However, with no music video and no promotion "When I Need You" failed to repeat the success of Dion's earlier songs.

Authors of "When I Need You" worked with Dion also on several other songs. Albert Hammond wrote "Just Walk Away", included on The Colour of My Love album (1993) and Carole Bayer Sager wrote "The Prayer", which became a part of These Are Special Times (1998).

Critical receptionEdit

EW editor David Browne called the cover: "an obligatory remake (a precisely enunciated version of Leo Sayer's When I Need You)".[20] The New York Observer editor Jonathan Bernstein: "A sliver of redemption is found in the passable version of Leo Sayer’s “When I Need You”".[21]

Formats and track listingsEdit

Brazilian promotional CD single

  1. "When I Need You" – 4:12

Cliff Richard versionEdit

"When I Need You"
Single by Cliff Richard
from the album Love... The Album
Released29 October 2007 (2007-10-29)
RecordedSound Kitchen, Sound House and Blue Wave Studios
Producer(s)Michael Omartian
Cliff Richard singles chronology
"21st Century Christmas/Move It"
"When I Need You"
"Thank You for a Lifetime"

On 29 October 2007, Cliff Richard released "When I Need You" and reached number 38 on the UK Singles Chart.[22] It is also one of the five new recordings featured on his album Love... The Album.

Format and track listingsEdit

  1. "When I Need You"
  2. "My Pretty One"
  3. "Never Let Go"

Siv-Inger (Siw Inger) versionEdit

Swedish singer Siv-Inger (Siw Inger) recorded Swedish cover version in 1979. The song, called "Varför", was released on her LP Liv och kärlek. "Varför" reached the Swedish Svensktoppen Chart and stayed 10 weeks in the top ten between 30 March and 1 June 1980, peaking at number four.

Julio Iglesias versionEdit

The Spanish singer achieved one of his best performances of this song in 1994.

Luther Vandross versionEdit

In 1998, the American singer Luther Vandross covered the song as part of his I Know album. Longtime associate and smooth jazz musician Kirk Whalum performed the saxophone solo on the track.

In other languagesEdit

The Malaysian band Black Dog Bone released a version sung in the Malay language, entitled "Bila rindu" (when I miss you).[23] The Indonesian band D'lloyd later covered the song with almost identical lyrics to Black Dog Bone's translation.[24]


  1. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum. SpinMedia. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 336–7. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of #1 Hits, 5th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  5. ^ "This page is available to GlobePlus subscribers". Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  6. ^ 3 December 2014: Leo Sayer has paid tribute to his friend Bobby Keys who died at the age of 70. Keys, the sax player for the Rolling Stones since 1969, also played on Sayer’s global hit ‘When I Need You’. In a statement Sayer said, “R.I.P. Bobby Keys. Bobby played the solo on “When I Need You”, 20 secs of tenor sax that no other player has ever been able to emulate. We toured together in the mid 70s, and Bobby was always fun to work with, a great musician everybody now knows as the sax man with the Rolling Stones. I’m so proud to have known you ‘Texas’!”[citation needed]
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 7 May 1977. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 28 May 1977. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  9. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – When I Need You". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  10. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 5 June 1977. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  11. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  12. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  15. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (17 July 2013). "Image : RPM Weekly". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  16. ^ Hunter, Nigel; Scaping, Peter, eds. (1978). "Top 100 Singles in 1977". BPI Year Book 1978 (3rd ed.). London, England: The British Phonographic Industry Ltd. pp. 216–17. ISBN 0-906154-01-4.
  17. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1977 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 31 December 1977. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1977/Top 100 Songs of 1977". Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  19. ^ Glatzer, Jenna (2005). Céline Dion: For Keeps. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-5559-5.
  20. ^ Browne, David (21 November 1997). "White Noise". Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  21. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan. "Celine Dion: Is She Cool? Someday, Maybe, but Not Now". Observer. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  22. ^ "The Official Cliff Richard website: News". 20 April 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  23. ^ Zaini Ghani (24 October 2013). "Black Dog Bone - Bila Rindu". Retrieved 12 April 2018 – via YouTube.
  24. ^ tjokynagabe (29 June 2011). "BILA RINDU - D'Lloyd". Retrieved 12 April 2018 – via YouTube.

External linksEdit