I Need a Lover

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"I Need a Lover"
Johnny Cougar I Need a Lover Single.jpg
Single by John Cougar
from the album John Cougar
B-side"Welcome to Chinatown"
1979 (U.S.)
Recorded1978 at AIR Studios, London, England[1]
GenreHard rock
Length5:38,[1] 3:30 (Single)
Songwriter(s)John Mellencamp
Producer(s)John Punter[1]
John Cougar singles chronology
"I Need a Lover"

"I Need a Lover" is the debut single by John Mellencamp, first released in 1978 under the stage name "Johnny Cougar".


The song appeared on his 1978 album A Biography, which was not released in the United States.[2] After becoming a top 10 hit in Australia, the song was later included on his 1979 follow-up album John Cougar[3] to introduce it to U.S. audiences, and was released there as a single, becoming his first U.S. top 40 hit when it reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1979.[4]

AllMusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine described "I Need a Lover" as Mellencamp's "first good song".[2] Cash Box said that "Cougar's gutsy, forthright vocals and lyrics are nicely backed by passionate guitar and a footstomping, hell-raising beat."[5]

On his inspiration for writing "I Need a Lover", Mellencamp said: "The song's about a friend of mine who goes to Concordia College. When that song was written, he was pretty sad. He was . . . livin’ in his bedroom. I told him, ‘You got to get the hell out of the house!’ He’d say, ‘Man, if I only had a girl, she’d make me forget my problems.’ I just said, ‘Well . . . ’"

Mellencamp has also stated that "I Need a Lover" was inspired by the Rolling Stones' 1972 song "Happy".

Cover version[edit]

Pat Benatar version[edit]

"I Need a Lover"
Pat Benatar I Need a Lover Single.jpg
Single by Pat Benatar
from the album In the Heat of the Night
B-side"No You Don't"
ReleasedAugust 1979[6]
Songwriter(s)John Mellencamp
Pat Benatar singles chronology
"We Live for Love"
"I Need a Lover"
"Rated X"

The song was covered and released as the debut single in 1979 by American rock singer Pat Benatar for her debut studio album, In the Heat of the Night (1979). The song became an album-oriented rock radio hit for the singer and has been part of the live set list on tour. Chrysalis Records released a live music video for the song, released in 1981.

Popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Best That I Could Do 1978–1988 (CD liner). John Mellencamp. U.S.: Mercury Records. 1997. p. 9. 314 536 738-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. ^ a b "John Cougar: A Biography: review". Allmusic. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  3. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "John Cougar: A Biography: review". Allmusic. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th ed.). Billboard Books. p. 418. ISBN 0-8230-7499-4.
  5. ^ "CashBox Singles Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. September 8, 1979. p. 18. Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  6. ^ Benatar, Pat (2010). Between a Rock and a Heart Place (1st ed.). William Morrow. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-06-195377-4.
  7. ^ Modell, Josh (August 12, 2014). "Hamilton Leithauser covers John Cougar (and he's playing A.V. Fest)". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved August 12, 2014.