Originally performed by William Bell (as "I Forgot to Be Your Lover"), the track was the second high-profile cover Idol had released as a single, after 1981's "Mony Mony." Idol would later top the Billboard Hot 100 (No. 7 UK), with a "live" version of "Mony Mony" in 1987.
The single was backed by Whiplash Smile album track "All Summer Single". Two different 12" singles were also released worldwide (1x UK and 1x Australia), featuring the aforementioned track and two extended remixes of "To Be A Lover (Mother of Mercy Mix)" (6:45) and "Rock'n'Roll Mix" (Australia only). The "Mother of Mercy Mix" differs quite significantly from the single version; it is a harder sounding song, with a prominent heavy guitar riff dominating most of the track and an 'interlude' with distorted female groans. It is this version that is featured on the remix compilation album Vital Idol 1987 US/1988 Japan editions.
The UK 12" was also released as a limited-edition picture disc.