Singled Out Classic: Foreigner's I Want To Know What Love Is
Insomnia had its benefits for Mick Jones in the 80s. As night fell on the circus his life had become since Foreigner released their all-conquering 4 album in 1981, the guitarist found himself with room to breathe and time to write.
"I always worked late at night, when everybody left and the phone stopped ringing," Jones recalls. "I Want To Know What Love Is came up at three in the morning sometime in 1984. I don't know where it came from. I consider it a gift that was sent through me. I think there was something bigger than me behind it. I'd say it was probably written entirely by a higher force."
As he sat at the keyboard in the studio of his Kensington apartment, Jones couldn't decide if his heart was half-empty or half-full. "The song was an expression of my tempestuous private life over the three years before," he says. "I'd been through a divorce, and met someone else who I was going to marry. There'd been turmoil in the band through the huge pressure of selling millions of albums, and me and Lou [Gramm, vocals] were entering a cold-war situation. I'd just come back to England from New York and was happy to be in touch with my roots. So it was an emotional time that stirred up a lot of things.
"That night I only managed the title, the opening chords and the chorus," Jones adds, "but that was enough to make me go into the bedroom where my soon-to-be wife was asleep and tell her I had an idea for a song called I Want To Know What Love Is. She just fixed me with this strange look and said [offended]: 'What do you mean? Don't you already know what love is?' I dragged her into the studio to hear it, which must say something. You always know when you've got something strong, and this song definitely moved me."
Jones was happy enough with the song to hand it over to Gramm, bassist Rick Wills and drummer Dennis Elliott for Foreigner's forthcoming Agent Provocateur album. "But I was still looking for ways to enhance it in a spiritual way," he remembers. "I'd even considered approaching Aretha Franklin." Find out what happened next.
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