Happy Anniversary: Stephen Stills, “Love The One You’re With”

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Happy Anniversary: Stephen Stills, “Love The One You’re With”

46 years ago today, Stephen Stills released the song that would go on to become the biggest hit single of his entire career.

The origins of the phrase that drives “Love The One You’re With” are a bit murky, but the recurring rumor that continued to run rampant on Wikipedia is that Stills heard Billy Preston utter the words, after which he reportedly asked for and received permission to write a song around them. The only problem with this story is that there doesn’t seem to be a single interview with the late Mr. Preston wherein he says anything about it, and you’d think there would be.

On the other hand, soul songstress Doris Troy was interviewed by broadcaster Spencer Leigh on the radio show On the Beat and told of how she was chatting with Stills at a party in London, saying that when he bemoaned the fact that his girlfriend was still in the States, she replied, “Love the one you’re with, sugar!”

Honestly, we don’t have a clue which one of them really said it, and since Preston and Troy were tight, it really could’ve been either of them. What matters most is that Stephen Stills took a great line and turned it into a great tune, one which remains his solo signature tune to this day. Given how ubiquitous the song has become on the radio, it’s actually a little surprising to look back and see that it only made it to #14, but between Stills’ version and covers by Bucks Fizz, Luther Vandross, and Idris Elba (check out the 2012 movie Prometheus if you don’t know what we’re talking about), it’s clear that “Love the One You’re With” transcended its chart high to become a song for the ages.