Singled Out: Heaven & Earth's I Don't Know What Love Is
This was about the 5th song to be written for the "Dig" album. It's based around a title that I'd come up with over 20 years ago.
One day way back then, and I can't remember if I was actually feeling that way or if I just thought it up but I came up with the line "I Don't Know What Love Is Anymore" and I thought it was such a powerful statement that I wrote it on the back of a business card and put it in my nightstand as I didn't want to forget it. A year or so later I was going out with a girl called Amanda whom I had always looked upon as the one that got away. In fact Keavin from antiMusic may remember her as he actually worked on the road crew of a very early version of Heaven & Earth when it was called "Midnight" during that period. Anyway, we were in the studio one day and Amanda said that she'd meet me at my house afterwards. When I got there she wasn't there so I called her at her apartment to ask where she was and she told me that she'd gone through my nightstand and found the business card and was upset that she'd found what I'd written on it and asked me if that was the way I felt. I laughed and told her that it was just an idea for a song title that I'd wrote down a long time before. Everything carried on between us for a while but at the time I remember thinking that if it had that effect on someone then it was worth doing something with.
Over the years I'd tried to write something around that title but was not really satisfied with anything that I came up with. When we were writing for "Dig" Joe (Retta) went to visit his parents in Rochester for a few weeks and I decided that we needed an acoustic style ballad, like "Heaven & Earth" off the first album, so I picked up my acoustic and consciously decided I was not going to pick up the electric again till I'd come up with some music that was worthy of that title. For two and a half weeks I worked on it all day and night, coming up with hundreds of ideas, but couldn't find the keystone riff to tie them all together. A few days before Joe was due to return I was talking to Howard Leese about the problems I was having with putting it together and he said well it sort of sings itself, "Love is Anymore" and the way he sang it reminded me of "She Love's You" by The Beatles" and the main riff instantly came to me. The minute I had that it was like I was magically transported into space and was looking down and could see all the other parts I'd written so I just went "I'll have you, you, you and you" and the whole thing dropped into place within 5 minutes.
When Joe got back a couple of days later I played him the song, which he loved, and gave him the title, which he thought was going to be tough to work with, so we recorded it on his 8 track recorder. As we were doing this he thought the chords I'd used for the chorus were a bit too "happy" and not in keeping with the title or the rest of the song, so I just swapped them out for a part in a bit more of a minor mode that I'd written earlier and he, as he usually did, disappeared into his room and I didn't see him for a few days. A few days later he played me the nearly completed song and I was blown away.
We made a few minor adjustments during rehearsals before we went into Ocean Studios in Burbank to record it but basically that was it. It was around Christmas time when we had the backing track completed and Joe had sung his vocal. Every year I would go over to David Paich's (Toto) for his Christmas Eve party where David and I would play carols on the piano and guitar. There was never anyone really good to sing them though so that year I brought Joe with me to help us out. After the party finished we went into David's studio and played him the song. He said that it was a definite hit and wanted to play some strings on it so we came back a couple of weeks later and he did his magic on it. As a final touch we added the Agape Gospel Choir on, shortened the title to "I Don't Know What Love Is" and the song was complete. I feel this is one of our strongest songs because, as relationships are so complicated, I think that most people can relate with the sentiments expressed within the lyrics at some point in their lives.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!