Lyrical Love: I’ve Been Loving You Too Long

Photo by Elliot Erwitt

Throughout my youth my mother had repeatedly pined,”Ahh, I would give my right arm for hair like that.” She’d always point but I wouldn’t need to look, knowing the object of her coveting was a thick afro-shaped mane of tiny ringlets. I never shared her fanatical obsession with hair, but I’d consider sacrificing an arm or two to be able to soul-sing like Otis Redding. He bled through his voice. The only other singer I can think of who has come close to that level of translatable communion was Janis Joplin, and she was highly influenced by (hand over heart) “my man, Otis.”

Despite dying at only 26 years old in a plane crash fifty years ago, his gospel-flavored, timeless songs resurface again and again in my life, inspiring poetry and shaping milestones. Our first dance at our wedding was a half-and-half: the first being the sweet instrumental “Ride Into the Sun” by Velvet Underground, followed by the upbeat, farcical duet “Tramp” by Otis Redding, featuring Carla Thomas. But as far as which song to use in this lyric series, after a month of replaying his albums and serious deliberation over which song’s lyrics can most be felt in the actual music, I’m going with the 1965 track, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)” by Otis Redding and Jerry Butler.

The lyrics aren’t particularly moving when simply read, as rarely a plea of personal heartbreak would be. But when one hears at the end climax, “I love you, I love you with all my heart…and I can’t stop now!” along with the two chords of crescendoing horns and piano swinging eighth notes, there is a sense of clinging to the cliff of denial to stave off the inevitable fall into the ocean of despair. I feel you, poor lover! Let the music be your sole consolation.

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)

I’ve been loving you too long to stop now

You were tired and you want to be free
My love is growing stronger, as you become a habit to me

Oh I’ve been loving you a little too long

I don’t want to stop now, oh

With you my life

Has been so wonderful

I can’t stop now

You were tired and your love is growing cold
My love is growing stronger as our affair affair grows old

I’ve been loving you a little too long, long

To stop now

Oh, oh, oh

I’ve been loving you a little bit too long

I don’t want to stop now no, no, no

Don’t make me stop now, no baby
I’m down on my knees please, don’t make me stop now

I love you, I love you

I love you with all of my heart

And I can’t stop now

Please, please don’t make me stop now!


2017, Amaya Engleking

*This is the second post of the series, Lyrical Love, in which I feature a song on the first Friday of the month. These songs are not exceptional solely in lyricism or in instrumentation, but these two components are perfectly matched to create exquisite compositions. I’d love to hear further suggestions on songs that meet this criteria. Thank you for reading/listening.



  1. writteningeek · February 3, 2017

    An incredible song is made up of lyrics, instrumentation and how it’s delivered. What a great song to hear first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee. Great choice!

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 3, 2017

      Thanks friend! Yeah, it was tough to narrow it down to this one, (my other considerations were “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and “These Arms Of Mine”) but in the end the build-up and the uncontainable passion won. Thanks for listening, and stop by again in a month for the next song.

  2. Mark · February 4, 2017

    I appreciate the insightful reflection on this song. I love the slow pace and rhythm of this song, seemingly a slow, sensual, saturday night dance song, but actually a man realizing the end is coming, and in agonizing denial. I do enjoy Otis, his voice is so unique and distinguishable. So many good songs to choose from, but this is a gem. His cover of a change is gonna come may be my fav. Look forward to next month’s. Btw – I made a site and write a little something you might “like”. 😉

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 7, 2017

      Yeah, I was psyched to see both Redding’s and Sam Cooke’s versions on your list. Leela James did alright too. Thanks for commenting as always. It’s good to have a music blogging friend. And your poem was medicinal, truly.

      • Mark · February 7, 2017

        Why thank you, that’s a wonderful compliment! I’m glad it was good for you, it felt good to write, really. About this, I truly enjoy reflecting on powerful songs and the emotions they convey, and invoke in me. I love good, poetic or profound lyrics… inspiring and calming for me.

  3. Mark · February 4, 2017


  4. Angelo Devlin · February 5, 2017

    Isn’t it cool, that lyrics are poems, put to music.

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 7, 2017

      Ha, not for me (personally, when I try to pour my soul into singing words.) I wish I had that talent, but maybe it will come one day. The pen will have to suffice for now.

  5. aumque · February 7, 2017

    I don’t know if you have listened to Carol Grimes & Delivery. You may probably like it, although one can never tell:

    Apparently Carol was influenced by Janis. Unfortunately, her alliance with the guys from Delivery lasted only for an album.

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 7, 2017

      Unfortunate indeed. That was groovy. The song in the middle, that ended “We were satisfied…” had those groovy instrumentals that really take you for a ride. Tough to find that stuff today, and then with the following song and it’s jazzy piano and drum beat but still psychedelic. Yeah, I can hear Janis in her, particularly when she’s not going all out or into falsetto. I dig it and I’ll listen to it again. Thanks, Aumque.

      • aumque · February 7, 2017

        You are welcome. I think they used some ideas of Quicksilver Messenger Service in their instrumentations. Later a couple of guys from Delivery co-founded Hatfield and the North and then National Health, but both bands were mostly instrumental. In my opinion, National Health was one of the greatests bands of the time, but they had to split up in 1982 because they didn’t have the money to record their next album.

  6. stacilys · February 13, 2017

    Truly soulful. It really is in the interpretation, isn’t it?

  7. beigebirds · March 6, 2017

    I’m almost too intimidated to offer a song. Your sense of musicality is fascinating. The songs I would dare to offer are the following:
    1) Al Jarreau’s version of Elton John’s “Your Song” on his “Tenderness” album because it just feels like he’s singing to me. It’s really my song, and I don’t even have blue or green eyes!)
    2) Al Jarreau’s live version of “We Got By” with David Sanborn on the same album (The instruments and Al’s voice rise to this explosive optimism that just makes you so happily hopeful! Can you tell I love Jarreau?)
    3) Tracy Chapman’s “All That You Have is Your Soul” because… all that you have is your soul.
    4) Sam Cook’s “Bring it on Home to Me” because it’s a sing-in-the-shower-soap-as-your-microphone song if I ever heard one! “One more thing/I tried to treat you right/But you stayed out, stayed out at night/But I forgive you, bring it to me/Bring your sweet loving/Bring it on home to me”
    5) Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Bill Hornsby’s piano and her voice are just haunting. I lived those lyrics during my first heartbreak over my first love (over 20 years ago). That song is just devastatingly, painstakingly beautiful. “I’ll feel the power, but you won’t because I can’t make you love me if you don’t” and Hornsby’s piano at the end is the nail in that emotion coffin.
    Those are my humble suggestions, and I am incredibly humbled that such a gifted writer read my post. Thank you.

  8. saynotoclowns · December 2

    Gosh, I haven’t heard this for ages, but I have always loved it.
    I didn’t realise he was so young when he died *sigh. Happens too often, it seems.

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