my least favourite song of all time…? …maybe…
Okay, we all have songs which, though loved by others, just don’t grab us. In fact, all of us have a song which immediately comes to mind when we’re asked, “What’s your worst song of all time?” Chances are, it’s not a particularly terrible song – there’s just something about it that grates you.
Well, with that in mind, mine is, without a shadow of a doubt, The Hollies’ version of The Air That I Breathe.
For a long time I thought it was the song itself I didn’t like. Then, I heard kd Lang’s magnificent version. It made me realise, it’s not the song – it’s the way The Hollies sing it…
instant dislike – never recovered
So, there I am doing my homework, transistor blaring as usual. The DJ announces, “Coming up the latest hit single from super-group, The Hollies.”
“Should be good,” I assume. I like their other singles. Just a few years before they turned out Magic Woman Touch and, before that, the smooth sound of, Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress.
Prior to that were a string of hits characterised by 60s harmonies and the joie de vivre that infused so many songs of that era – Just One Look, I’m Alive, Bus Stop, Carrie Anne, Stop, Stop, Stop, Jennifer Eccles, Sorry Suzanne, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother, I Can’t Tell the Bottom From the Top, Too Young to be Married,
So, I’m waiting, bated breath… and on comes the most gloomy, dreary, dour, (insert your own word here) drone I’ve ever heard in recorded form. It goes on to become one of The Hollies’ greatest hits – one of their three #1 UK hits – but I dislike it immediately. And, all these years later, I sense a feeling of ‘blueness’ descend whenever I hear it. To be blunt, I find it depressing. In fact, to my ears, this song is even worse than, Debbie Boone’s, You Light Up My Life – and that’s saying something!
Having said all that, some of you will love it and that’s the great thing about music.
In 1992 Albert Hammond said:
When you listen to the song, you’d think this is a show stopper, and lyrically, you’d think I wrote it probably for the most beautiful woman that ever existed in the world. And in fact, The air that I breathe was written for quite an ugly person actually, I mean ugly outside, physically outside. She wasn’t a great looking girl, but she was a terrific person inside. She was warm and kind and… This person was the person who gave me shelter in Los Angeles, when I didn’t have any place to stay. I had no money, I had no Green Card, I couldn’t work, I could have been a homeless. I sat down with Mike Hazlewood, and I said “Mike, this is what’s happened to me, and this is the person.” And I think Mike came up with [the line] “the air that I breathe.” More than my story, it was because we lived in LA, and for the first time in our lives, we were introduced by smog. And every time we woke up, we’d look at the Hollywood Hills, and there was like a yellow monster up there. And I think that was his reason for coming up with [the line] “the air that I breathe”. My reason was a love story, his was ecology or whatever you want to call it, you know. But it worked.
Deservedly, The Hollies were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.
the air that i breathe fax
- The Air That I Breathe was written by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood.
- The Air That I Breathe was originally recorded by Albert Hammond and appears on his 1972 album It Never Rains In Southern California.
- The Air That I Breathe was The Hollies last major hit.
- Over ten major acts, and scores of others, have recorded The Air That I Breathe. Acts to have covered the song include: Phil Everly, Olivia Newton-John, Hank Williams Jr., Julio Iglesias (with harmonies by The Beach Boys), Barry Manilow, kd lang, Simply Red, The Mavericks.
- Contrary to the information on a number of Internet sites which state that Maroon 5 recorded this song, The Air That I Breathe by Maroon 5 is a different song bearing the same title.
- In 1976 Albert Hammond recorded a Spanish version entitled, Necesito poder respirar.
- For the Radiohead song, Creep, Thom Yorke shares royalties and writing credits with Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood, because of the similarities between that song and The Air That I Breathe.
- The Air That I Breathe has been in a number of movies and television programmes including; the 1999 film, The Virgin Suicides; the series finale of teen drama Dawson’s Creek; and the 2007 Adam Sandler film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
- The Air That I Breathe lyrics.
what about you?
We all have a worst song – push the COMMENT button and share it with the rest of us.
the hollies version;
Albert Hammond’s Original version;