Glenn Frey, “The One You Love” from No Fun Aloud (1982): One Track Mind

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In reaction to the shocking death of Glenn Frey, co-founder of the Eagles, most tributes have focused solely on his band. It is easy to remember Frey for his contributions to one of the 1970s’ biggest groups, writing and singing hits such as “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Take It Easy,” and “New Kid in Town.” However, few articles and news reports have mentioned his highly successful ’80s-era solo career, starting with his 1982 debut No Fun Aloud and concluding with 1988’s Soul Searchin’.

He continued releasing solo projects in the 1990s, but none spawned the hits like the previous decade’s efforts. Newly split from the Eagles, Glenn Frey immediately created another persona on No Fun Aloud — a smooth, soul-tinged crooner singing romantic lyrics. The single “The One You Love” announced this new phase of Frey’s career, and the ballad still works courtesy of Frey’s earnest vocals as well as Ernie Watts and Jim Horn’s sensual tenor saxophones.

Cowritten with Jack Tempchin (composer of “Peaceful Easy Feeling”), “The One You Love” contains a classic “torn between two lovers” story, except Frey tells the tale from the perspective of a man competing for the woman’s attention. His gentle voice sounds wounded yet accepting of the situation, but he urges her to resolve the love triangle. “Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you – or are you goin’ back to the one you love?” he asks. The lyrics somewhat sympathize with the woman, with Frey’s voice rising in intensity as he sings “Your heart keeps sayin’ it’s just not fair.” Still, must choose between loyal Frey or “the guy who left you cryin’.” By the end of the track, the issue is not resolved. Who will she choose?

“The One You Love” works on two levels. First, Glenn Frey’s occasionally trembling voice conveys anguish and heartache; when he sings lines like “Someone’s gonna cry when they know they’ve lost you,” one can sense his turmoil. At the same time, he projects an overly romantic image, different from his years with the Eagles. Indeed, these lyrics are quite different from the younger Frey proclaiming “I’m runnin’ down the road, trying to loosen my load; I got seven women on my mind.” “The One You Love” features a more mature Frey and introduces a significant change in his songwriting and singing.

The second reason the single works involves that haunting melody. Watts performs the repeating theme, while Horn plays the sax solo during the fadeout. The instruments add longing and enhance the dread surrounding the woman’s dilemma as well as the narrator’s fear that she will choose the other man over him. When Glenn Frey performed the track in concert, the opening saxophone melody instantly evoked a reaction. The audience immediately recognized “The One You Love” before Frey uttered one word.

After its release, “The One You Love” peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and rose to No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary charts. The song announced Glenn Frey as a solo artist, effectively distancing himself from his former band. His voice may be easily identified, but his new sound veered away from country rock and more toward R&B and pop.

He would continue this streak on uptempo tracks such as “The Heat Is On” (from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack), and “Sexy Girl” along with the moodier “You Belong to the City” (from the Miami Vice soundtrack). The lone exception in sound is “Smuggler’s Blues,” a rock-oriented track that now functions as a snapshot of the drug trade in the 1980s. The song’s tale would subsequently inspire a Miami Vice episode starring Frey His run of solo hits concluded with 1988’s Soul Searchin’, an R&B-influenced album that spawned two adult contemporary hits: the title track and “True Love.”

By the mid-1990s, Frey reunited with the Eagles on their hugely successful “Hell Freezes Over” tour. He recorded only a few more solo albums, the last being After Hours in 2012. While his solo career may not equal the Eagles in terms of sales and influence, Glenn Frey’s 1980s work deserves more attention for its catchiness and change in artistic direction.

“The One You Love” exemplifies Frey’s ability to forge his own path after leaving such an iconic band. Instead of repeating their country-rock sound, he reverted to his Detroit roots and created his own blend of rock, pop and soul. His impressive post-Eagles reinvention and creative rejuvenation should not be overlooked.

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole is a lifelong music enthusiast who maintains a stand-alone music blog called Listen to the Band. In addition, she is the internet columnist and a contributing editor for Beatlefan magazine. She also holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology. Contact Something Else! at
Kit O'Toole
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