Nazareth – Love Hurts

I owned Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog on 8-track tape (a book about 8-tracks from Deke) that was given to me as a kid. I still remember that CLICK during the title song. I expect to hear it when I listen to it today.  The only version I knew of Love Hurts was Nazareth for the longest time. Later I found out it has been covered by many people including The Everly Brothers.

I saw Nazareth in the early 80s. Dan McCafferty’s voice was rough, loud, and great. Instead of talking to the audience he screamed through a very hot mic…but they were awesome. The opened up for Billy Squire but I would have loved to seem them headline.

The album this song was on was Hair of the Dog. It would be Nazareth’s biggest album. The album peaked at #17 in the Billboard Album Charts and #20 in Canada in 1975.

Nazareth released Love Hurts as a single late in 1974. Surprisingly, it tanked, but in April 1975 it became a hit in South Africa, prompting their label, A&M, to release it in America. It took a while, but radio stations in Texas started playing the song, and others around the country gradually followed suit.

The song peaked at #1 in Canada and #8 in the Billboard 100 and #41 in the UK. Nazareth got their name from the first line of the Band’s “The Weight” – “I pulled into Nazareth…”

The Everly Brothers may have been the first to cover it, but they never released the song as a single. They planned to release this as a single, but industry politics got in the way. The group was managed by Wesley Rose, who was part owner of the publishing company Acuff-Rose. After a string of hits for Cadence Records, they left for Warner Bros. in 1960, and continued to make hits but Rose wanted them to release singles for which Acuff-Rose owned the publishing, and when the duo recorded covers of “Lucille” and “Temptation” (a song from 1933), he protested, leading to a split and a legal dispute. Rose had another one of his clients, Roy Orbison, record “Love Hurts” and released it as the B-side to his #1 hit “Running Scared” in 1961.

Don Everly: “Wesley covered us with Roy Orbison, which was outlandishly selfish,” Don Everly said in Walk Right Back: The Everly Brothers On Warner Bros. “The arrangement was ours, and it was written for us. We couldn’t release it as a single because we didn’t know if Acuff-Rose would license it or not because we were in a lawsuit with them. It got that bitter.”

Pete Aginew Nazareth bassist: “We all loved the song. We often covered songs that we liked that we used to listen to on tape. Every now and then, we’d just go back and try to do something with one of these things. If you could change it and make it yours, we’d do it in the studio and see if we could do something about it. When we did Love Hurts, I believe there were 42 different versions recorded of it. The one we used to listen to was Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, off the “Grievous Angel” [1974] album. We used to have that in our van and we loved the song. […] We recorded “Love Hurts” as a b-side and that’s how we saw it. Of course, when I hear it now, it’s probably one of the best rock ballads of all time and definitely the vocal is in the top three.”

From Songfacts

Nazareth made this song a hit, but it was originally released by the Everly Brothers on their 1960 album A Date With The Everly Brothers. Like their heartbreak hit from 1957, “Bye Bye Love,” it was written by Boudleaux Bryant.

Young love is hot with passion, but it burns you when it’s hot. The guy in this song has just made this discovery, which is a revelation of sorts – all those singing the praises of love are fools who will soon be burned, as love is just a lie made to make you blue.

The original Everly Brothers version runs 2:23 and is delivered in their distinctive, pleasing harmonies. The Nazareth version is 3:03, with sandpaper vocals by lead singer Dan McCafferty screamed out as if he’s falling into the pit of despair.

The group is from Scotland and had three UK hits under their belts when 
Nazareth’s Stateside success was short lived: “Holiday” reached #87 in 1980, and “Love Leads To Madness” went to #105 in 1982, but none of their other songs charted there.

The album version runs 3:52, with a guitar solo by Manny Charlton that is not on the 3:03 single.

By the time Nazareth brought this song to life, the Everly Brothers had been split for three years. When they re-formed in 1983, they added the song to their setlists for the first time, starting with their reunion concert at Royal Albert Hall, which was released as a live album. In later years, it sometimes seemed like they were singing it to each other on stage, as their relationship had clearly soured.

The Everly Brothers recorded a new version on their 1965 album Rock’n Soul. Other artists to release it include Ray Peterson, Jimmy Webb, and Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris. Jim Capaldi is the only other artist to chart with the song; he took it to #97 US in December 1975.

***A Real 8-Track Museum in Dallas Texas***

Love Hurts

Love hurts

Love scars

Love wounds and marks

Any heart not tough or strong enough

To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain

Love is like a cloud, it holds a lot of rain

Love hurts

Ooh love hurts

I’m young

I know

But even so

I know a thing or two, I learned from you

I really learned a lot, really learned a lot

Love is like a flame, it burns you when it’s hot

Love hurts

Ooh love hurts

Some fools think

Of happiness, blissfulness, togetherness

Some fools fool themselves, I guess

They’re not foolin’ me

I know it isn’t true I know it isn’t true

Love is just a lie made to make you blue

Love hurts

Ooh love hurts

Ooh love hurts

I know it isn’t true

I know it isn’t true

Love is just a lie made to make you blue

Love hurts

Ooh love hurts

Ooh, love hurts, ooh

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

32 thoughts on “Nazareth – Love Hurts”

  1. Thanks for the shoutout dude. Nazareth always did huge business here in Canada. For the longest time they held the record attendance at our Gardens for over 5000( set in the late 70s) until Bryan Adams came here in 84 on the Reckless Tour.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No problem dude…That is really cool…I enjoyed them more than Billy…nothing against Billy but Nazareth didn’t mess about…they were great.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I do love Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers’ voices, but Nazareth does “Love Hurts” like they mean it. It has to have the rough-edged anguish of love hurting to bring it to life. The others sounds like teflon compared to them. I got a charge out of the 8 Track Museum video. If I would have known such a thing existed I would have saved mine and shipped them to the place.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The guy looks like a serious long time rock and roller also. Very cool to see The Beatles collection he has there. Did Bailey bring back any pics from the museum he went to in Germany?? Hoping he did and you can share one or two??

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes he did…I need to post that. He said the museum was product driven…but cool. He said it was so much it was overwhelming. They did have John Lennon’s spoon! lol.
        I bet the ones in Hamburg would have more of their real things….but don’t get me wrong. I would love to go to the one he went to…I’ll work something up.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. 8-tracks. A crazy trip down memory lane. My brother played Hair of the Dog to death because he had the album and we loved the title song. Love Hurts was our neighbor’s favorite. I ended up getting No Mean City and playing May the Sunshine to death. Great memories.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A fascinating intro to the 8-track museum thanks Max. Nazareth beats the Everly Bros hands down with this song – for me. The Nazareth version was the one I know. In fact the Everly version I turned off because it was soooo nice – I thought of Julie Andrews singing A Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Deke is right, Nazareth were really big in Canada when I was young, but mostly as an albums andlive group I think…this was the only big radio hit from that era. I always liked it a lot….”Love Leads to Madness”, I’d forgotten about that one but I liked it too (even bought the single!)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Nice trip down memory lane, Max. Nazareth’s rendition of “Love Hurts”, which also is the first version of the song I knew, was huge in Germany and got lots of radio play.

    I would go as far as characterizing it as one of the defining power ballads. With Nazareth really putting their own stamp on it, I also feel it’s more of a remake rather than just a cover – kind of the equivalent of what Joe Cocker’s treatment of “With a Little Help From My Friends”. In fact, I’d probably put Narazeth’s take of “Love Hurts” on my list of greatest remakes.

    While I generally dig The Everly Brothers, I still remember how underwhelmed I was when I heard their version for the first time. Compared to Nazareth, you really don’t get the feeling love truly hurts. It sounds more like a minor inconvenience! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. His voice really makes you feel the hurt for sure. It might be one of the first power ballads.

      I like that whole album…it’s ingrained in my head from childhood. The title song is great also.

      The Everlys just didn’t convey the hurt becasue they did it in their style.

      Graham is correct…Gram Parsons has a great version of this.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. So I just listened to Gram’s version with Emmylou Harris – that is just stunning! Harris has such an angelic voice and it beautifully blends with Gram’s.

        One of the reasons I’ve always liked the Everly Brothers is their great harmony singing. But Gram’s and Emmylou’s version really takes it to the next level!

        Liked by 3 people

  7. I had never heard the Everly”s version. Wow. I happened to notice in the Nazareth video that the lead guitarist was playing free-hand (no pick), reminiscent of Mark Knopfler.

    I need to go hear Gram & Emmylou, now…

    Liked by 1 person

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