When a Man Loves a Woman (song)
"When a Man Loves a Woman" is a song recorded by Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge is an American R&B and soul performer who recorded the hit "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1966.-Early career:...

 in 1966 at Norala Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama
Sheffield, Alabama
Sheffield is a city in Colbert County, Alabama, United States, and is included in The Shoals MSA. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city is 9,652. Sheffield is the birthplace of notable attorney, actor, former senator and presidential contender Fred Thompson...

. It made number one on both the Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

 and R&B singles charts. It was listed 54th in the List of Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest songs of all time. The sidemen for this recording included Spooner Oldham
Spooner Oldham
Dewey Lindon "Spooner" Oldham is an American songwriter and session musician. An organist, he recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and at FAME Studios on such hit R&B songs as "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge, "Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett and "I Never Loved a Man" by Aretha...

, organ; Marlin Greene, guitar; Albert "Junior" Lowe, bass and Roger Hawkins
Roger Hawkins
Roger G Hawkins , is an American drummer best known for playing as part of the studio backing band known as The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section of Alabama...

, drums. The song is credited to Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright, who played bass and keyboards with Sledge. However, the song was in fact written by Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge is an American R&B and soul performer who recorded the hit "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1966.-Early career:...

 himself, but he gave it to Lewis and Wright.

Before the recording session, the song had no title or lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

. The session proceeded with the expectation that Sledge
Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge is an American R&B and soul performer who recorded the hit "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1966.-Early career:...

 would produce them for the vocal takes. When it came time to record the vocals, Sledge
Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge is an American R&B and soul performer who recorded the hit "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1966.-Early career:...

 improvised the lyrics with minimal pre-planning, using the melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

 as a guide for rhythm and phrasing
Phrase (music)
In music and music theory, phrase and phrasing are concepts and practices related to grouping consecutive melodic notes, both in their composition and performance...

. The performance was so convincing that others working on the session assumed Sledge
Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge is an American R&B and soul performer who recorded the hit "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1966.-Early career:...

 had the lyrics written down.

It was later covered by Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton is an American singer and songwriter. Bolton originally performed in the hard rock and heavy metal genres from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s, both on his early solo albums and those recorded as the frontman of the band Blackjack...

 in 1991, whose version also reached number one on the U.S. pop and adult contemporary
Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks
The Adult Contemporary chart is a weekly chart published in Billboard magazine that lists the most popular songs on adult contemporary and "lite-pop" radio stations in the United States...

 singles charts (Bolton also received a Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 for this song). Barbara Mandrell
Barbara Mandrell
Barbara Ann Mandrell is an American country music singer best known for a 1970s–1980s series of Top 10 hits and TV shows that helped her become one of country's most successful female vocalists of the 1970s and 1980s...

 recorded a Country version of the song that same year. The song has also been recorded by Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. , better known by his stage name Marvin Gaye, was an American singer-songwriter and musician with a three-octave vocal range....

, Jerry Butler
Jerry Butler (singer)
Jerry Butler is an American soul singer and songwriter. He is also noted as being the original lead singer of the R&B vocal group, The Impressions, as well as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.Butler is also an American politician...

, Art Garfunkel
Art Garfunkel
Arthur Ira "Art" Garfunkel is an American singer-songwriter, poet, and actor, best known as being a member of the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel...

 and Luba
Luba may refer to:*Slavic origin feminine name which means "someone who has love"*Luba, Equatorial Guinea*Luba, Abra, a municipality in the Philippines*Ľubá, a village and municipality in the Nitra region of south-west Slovakia...


Sledge's version was also a top ten hit in the UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 peaking at number four on its initial release and peaking at number two in 1987 after it was featured in a Levi's Jeans commercial. The song makes use of a commonly used descending bass line chord progression as in Pachelbel's canon, or Bach's Air on the G string
Air on the G String
The "Air on the G String" is an adaptation by August Wilhelmj of the Air, the second movement from Johann Sebastian Bach's Orchestral Suite No...



End of year chart (1992) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1


  • Other noteworthy versions of the song, besides Michael Bolton's, include renditions by Johnny Rivers
    Johnny Rivers
    Johnny Rivers is an American rock and roll singer, songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. His styles include folk songs, blues, and revivals of old-time rock 'n' roll songs and some original material...

    , Bette Midler
    Bette Midler
    Bette Midler is an American singer, actress, and comedian, also known by her informal stage name, The Divine Miss M. She became famous as a cabaret and concert headliner, and went on to star in successful and acclaimed films such as The Rose, Ruthless People, Beaches, and For The Boys...

     (US #35, 1980, from her movie The Rose
    The Rose (film)
    The Rose is a 1979 American musical drama film which tells the story of a self-destructive 1960s rock star who struggles to cope with the constant pressures of her career and the demands of her ruthless business manager...

    ) and Esther Phillips
    Esther Phillips
    Esther Phillips was an American singer. Phillips was known for her R&B vocals, but she was a versatile singer, also performing pop, country, jazz, blues and soul music.-Early life:...

     (US #73, 1966, in a reverse-gender version, "When A Woman Loves A Man").
  • Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes
    Jimmy Barnes
    James Dixon Swan , better known as Jimmy Barnes, is a Scottish-born Australian rock singer-songwriter. His father Jim Swan was a prizefighter and his older brother John Swan is also a rock singer. It was actually John who had encouraged and taught Jim how to sing as he wasn't really interested at...

     released a live version as a single from his 1988 album Barnestorming
    Barnestorming was a live album by former Cold Chisel vocalist Jimmy Barnes. The album was released in 1988 and went to number one on the Australian album chart for 3 weeks in late 1988.- Track listing :# "Driving Wheels"...

    that was a #3 hit in Australia.
  • Three separate country music
    Country music
    Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

     covers have made the Hot Country Songs
    Hot Country Songs
    Hot Country Songs is a chart published weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States.This 60-position chart lists the most popular country music songs, calculated weekly mostly by airplay and occasionally commercial sales...

     charts: John Wesley Ryles
    John Wesley Ryles
    John Wesley Ryles is an American country music artist. He made his debut in 1968 with the single "Kay", a Top Ten hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles charts, and the title track to his debut album for Columbia Records.Ryles later recorded one album, Reconsider Me, for the Plantation label,...

     (#72 in 1976), Jack Grayson
    Jack Grayson
    C. Jackson "Jack" Grayson, Jr. is the chairman of APQC, dean of two business schools, head of the U.S. Price Commission , a farmer, newspaper reporter and FBI agent. In 1977 he founded APQC as a private sector, non-profit organization.C. Jackson Grayson was the U.S...

     and Blackjack (#18 in 1981) and Narvel Felts
    Narvel Felts
    Narvel Felts is an American country music singer. Known for his soaring tenor and high falsetto, Felts enjoyed his greatest success during the 1970s, most famously 1975's "Reconsider Me."-Career:...

     (#60 in 1987).
  • In The Simpsons
    The Simpsons
    The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

    episode "A Star is Torn
    A Star Is Torn
    "A Star Is Torn" is the eighteenth episode of The Simpsons sixteenth season. The episode first aired on May 8, 2005. Fantasia Barrino guest stars as Clarissa Wellington.-Plot:...

    ", for an audition, Milhouse van Houten
    Milhouse Van Houten
    Milhouse Mussolini Van Houten is a fictional character featured in the animated television series The Simpsons, voiced by Pamela Hayden. He is Bart Simpson's best friend in Mrs. Krabappel's fourth grade class at Springfield Elementary School....

     briefly sings the opening lines before being heckled by Lenny
    Lenny and Carl
    Lenford "Lenny" Leonard and Carlton "Carl" Carlson are supporting characters in the Fox animated series The Simpsons, and are voiced by Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria. They have a close relationship with each other with hints of homosexuality...

     about "whether [he's] the man or the woman".

External links

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