Harman Patil (Editor)

When I Need You

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February 1977

Soft rock

7" single


"I Think We Fell in Love Too Fast"

Chrysalis (UK) Warner Bros. (US)

"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. It also reached number 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 for a single week in May 1977; and the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks. 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.


Melody comparison

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 & 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.

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"


  • Leo Sayer – vocals
  • James Newton Howard – synthesizer
  • Bobby Keys – saxophone
  • Michael Omartian – electric piano
  • Dean Parks – electric guitar
  • Jeff Porcaro – drums
  • Willie Weeks – bass
  • Rod Stewart version

    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 version

    "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.

    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 reception

    EW editor David Browne wrote: "an obligatory remake (a precisely enunciated version of Leo Sayer's When I Need You)". 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”".

    Formats and track listings

    Brazilian promotional CD single

    1. "When I Need You" – 4:12

    Cliff Richard version

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

    Format and track listings

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

    Siv-Inger (Siw Inger) version

    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 version

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

    Luther Vandross version

    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.


    When I Need You Wikipedia