Story of the song: I’m Not in Love by 10cc

From The Independent archive: Robert Webb on the long gestation of a No 1 smash hit

Friday 26 August 2022 21:30 BST
Pop’s smarty-pants: 10cc
Pop’s smarty-pants: 10cc (Avro)

Acerbic and witty, 10cc were pop’s smarty-pants, and the mesmerising “I’m Not in Love” their cleverest song. Eric Stewart was inspired to write the lyrics of the 1975 hit after his wife complained that he didn’t tell her that he loved her often enough. He set about figuring out another way of saying it. “I chose to say, ‘I’m not in love with you’, while subtly giving all the reasons throughout the song why I could never let go of this relationship,” he told Sound on Sound magazine.

Stewart prepared a guitar hook that fitted the cadence of the title. “I made things fit phonetically, and it just sort of rolled out very smoothly in a bossa nova shuffle,” he said. “I’m not in love / So don’t forget it / It’s just a silly phase I'm going through.”

He then invited his bandmate Graham Gouldman to help finish it off. Using just guitars, the duo pushed square chords into round holes, and ignored the conventions of chorus and middle-eight, to avoid a “regular” pop song. The initial demo was dismissed as too cute by the other half of 10cc, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, but eventually they agreed to give it a go.

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