Lose the glove or the fist

Jeff Brokaw has decided that Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” doesn’t suck as much as he thought it did:

I used to despise the lyrics to this song too — and it is kind of a mess musically, too. But on closer listening, I decided it is not about cheating while your girlfriend is away, it is about a guy who’d been dumped, and so he figures, correctly, that pining for a former love (or “bitch” as the case may be) that dumped you is a poor choice when there is another young lady right next to you.

I believe this interpretation to be correct, though it would be interesting to find out the state of Stills’ on-again-off-again relationship with Judy Collins at the time he wrote it. And anyway, he didn’t make up the conditional in the chorus: that was a Billy Preston concoction.


  1. Jeff Brokaw »

    19 January 2013 · 12:21 pm

    For me, the song is still barely tolerable – I just have never liked the music or singing in it, from when I was 11 all the way through to today (40+ years later).

    On the plus side, at least I never thought Jimi Hendrix sang “excuse me, while I kiss this guy!”.

  2. Jeff Brokaw »

    19 January 2013 · 12:21 pm

    And thanks for the linkage.

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