When I Need You

"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
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

Other versionsEdit

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, and reached number 55 in Canada.[30]

Celine Dion versionEdit

"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.[31] Entertainment Weekly editor David Browne called the cover, "an obligatory remake (a precisely enunciated version of Leo Sayer's When I Need You)".[32] 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”".[33]

Cliff Richard versionEdit

On 29 October 2007, Cliff Richard released "When I Need You" as a single in the UK.[34] It reached number 38 on the UK Singles Chart.[35] It is one of five new recordings on his album Love... The Album.

Tumse MilkeEdit

The Indian music composer R.D. Burman used the music of this song for his song Tumse Milke in the 1989 movie Parinda.


  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". Theglobeandmail.com. 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. ^ "Leo Sayer – When I Need You" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Leo Sayer – When I Need You" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 7 May 1977. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 21 May 1977. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  11. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – When I Need You". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 8, 1977" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  13. ^ "Leo Sayer – When I Need You" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  14. ^ "Leo Sayer – When I Need You". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  15. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Leo Sayer: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  17. ^ "Leo Sayer Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Leo Sayer Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  19. ^ "Leo Sayer Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Top 100 1977-05-21". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1977". Ultratop. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  23. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (17 July 2013). "Image : RPM Weekly". bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  24. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1977". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  25. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1977". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  26. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1977 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 31 December 1977. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1977/Top 100 Songs of 1977". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  29. ^ "Adult Contemporary Songs – Year-End 1977". Billboard. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  30. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - May 12, 1997" (PDF).
  31. ^ Glatzer, Jenna (2005). Céline Dion: For Keeps. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-5559-5.
  32. ^ Browne, David (21 November 1997). "White Noise". EW.com. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  33. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan. "Celine Dion: Is She Cool? Someday, Maybe, but Not Now". Observer. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  34. ^ "Cliff Richard - When I Need You (Single/Album Version)". cliffrichardsongs.com. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  35. ^ "Cliff Richard UK Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 December 2021.

External linksEdit