“Love the One You’re With” by Stephen Stills

This song certainly has Stephen Stills’ usual appealing Country-Rock sound down, but, in addition to featuring extremely poorly-written lyrics (“There’s a rose in the fisted glove/and the eagle flies with the dove”…seriously?), many people seem to hate it because of its unpleasantly cynical view of romance and fidelity. And while this is actually a valid criticism, my primary issue with the song is that it ripped off its entire concept from an earlier, better hit. The joke this song is built around was already used by “When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love (I Love the Girl I’m Near)”, one of the many hit songs from the musical Finian’s Rainbow, about thirty years before Stills got his hands on it. And that song actually made much better use of the concept than this one, as there it was presented as a wry, lighthearted joke, whereas here it’s delivered as though the singer actually thinks it’s good advice, hence the widespread objection to its sentiments. So between the terrible lyrics, the fact that it’s basically telling people to cheat on their significant others without a hint of visible irony, and the theft of its central conceit from a much better song from the pre-Rock’N’Roll era in the cynical assurance that none of his target audience have ever heard it, I can get behind the hatred for this song. Sure, the tune and instrumentation are nice, but there are dozens of other songs by Stephen Stills and his ilk that have those qualities without any of this song’s problems.

Verdict: Bad.

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