I was stocking the beer case in Buzzy’s Country Store the other day when Stephen Stills’ Love the One You’re With played on the radio. Every time I hear this song it makes me stop and do a little recalculation of “Does this song make any sense?”
Musically I like it a lot. Stephen and company nail it what with all the energy in the song, the guitars strumming like they do, the great Hammond organ break (1:43 mark below) and the whole “Du-du-du-du-du-datu” feel to it. As they used to say – its got a good beat and you can dance to it.
But lyrically though, the words always trip me up every time I hear them sung. OK, I know that Stills wrote it during the free-love-hippy-dippy-period in music history but the overall message just doesn’t make sense to me. I guess so, because personally, I’ve always been a Johnny-Cash-I-Walk-the-Line-one-woman-kinda-guy. Fooling around because I’m “down and confused and don’t know what to do” and the girl next to me “is just waiting for something to do” is not the way I roll.
Thus, the whole “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” gist of the song seems a little off to and for me. (Confession time here though: I do admit to the Jimmy Carter “lust in my heart” sin that he discussed in the infamous Playboy interview he did back then. Nothing wrong with looking and thinking about if you can’t be with the one you love right?)
I landed on this good article (above) that talks to some of the problems I too have with the song (click here.)