Adele, “One And Only”

Written by November 21st, 2011 at 8:59 am

Songwriter Greg Wells tells the story behind writing “One And Only” with Adele

In October, the British pop superstar Adele canceled her remaining 2011 concert dates in order to undergo treatment for a vocal cord hemorrhage. The laser microsurgery was performed in Boston, and recent news from the Adele camp have indicated that the singer is recovering well.

But the medical interruption to Adele’s singing career has not stopped the sales accolades from rolling in. Recently, her album 21 became the first to reach 1 million sales on iTunes in Europe. (The album had previously become the top U.S. iTunes album of all time.)

We recently profiled the songwriter Greg Wells, who is no stranger to superstars, having co-written, produced, and played with artists like Mika, Katy Perry, and Pink. But, when Wells co-wrote “One And Only” with Adele, he says it was unlike any other writing session he’d ever had.

“It was similar in that it was two people trying to pull ideas out of the ether, but dissimilar in that Adele truly is the most talented person I’ve ever written with,” Wells says. “To have her sing her ideas sounding the way she sounds, it’s kind of spoiled me forever. Really.”

Adele has spoken out about much of the personal experiences that led to the material on 21, mostly about the ex-lover who inspired many of the songs on the album. She told the UK’s The Sun, “It’s hard singing all these songs because it makes me remember how brilliant we were when we were good… and how tragic it was when we were bad.”

But “One And Only,” she reveals in a video interview on her website is “not about the same guy that the record is about. It’s about someone I’ve known for years. We’ve always really liked each other but never been together even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to marry this guy.” The song is a powerful statement of intention. It doesn’t seem like many could resist it when Adele sings, “I dare you to let me be your, your one and only/ Promise I’m worthy to hold in your arms/ So come on and give me the chance.”

In New York this May, she introduced “One And Only” by saying, poignantly, “It’s about trying to buck up the courage to tell someone who you’ve loved for ages that you want to be with them.” Often, she becomes visibly choked up while singing the song during live performances. But a month later, at London’s iTunes festival this year, Adele said, “This is about someone who I really used to like, but I don’t like them anymore.”

But while we seem to know a bit about the circumstances that inspired such heart-wrenching lyrics, we don’t always have a window into Adele’s creative process, how she uses her virtuosic voice to capture her feelings in the moment of inspiration. Wells remembers the co-write in the piano room at his Los Angeles studio like this:

“I heard a piano progression of four chords, and a slow 6/8 feel. I kept playing it for about ten minutes. Adele was pacing the room with a note pad and pen… then finally said, ‘I’m not sure if this is good, but what do you think of this?’ And then in full voice she sang the finished chorus of ‘One and Only’ and I almost fell over.”

The song’s verses and chorus (that little earworm that bears a passing resemblance to the melodic hook from Boyz II Me’s 1994 syrupy slo-mo R&B hit “I’ll Make Love To You“) were then “tweaked” by second co-writer Dan Wilson and Adele the following week.

From Wells’ and Adele’s three-day L.A. collaboration, Wells says the pair “had a blast” and pulled out two songs, though the latter “wound up being too fast and hyper for her album.”

While “One And Only” certainly wouldn’t classify as “hyper,” the song has a powerful uplifting quality all the same. In Paris earlier this year, Adele described it as “sad but euphoric.”

“One And Only”

You’ve been on my mind
I grow fonder every day,
Lose myself in time
Just thinking of your face
God only knows
Why it’s taking me so long
To let my doubts go
You’re the only one that I want

I don’t know why I’m scared, I’ve been here before
Every feeling, every word, I’ve imagined it all,
You never know if you never try
To forgive your past and simply be mine

I dare you to let me be your, your one and only
Promise I’m worthy to hold in your arms
So come on and give me the chance
To prove that I’m the one who can
Walk that mile until the end starts

I’ve been on your mind
You hang on every word I say, lose yourself in time
At the mention of my name,
Will I ever know how it feels to hold you close?
And have you tell me whichever road I choose you’ll go

I don’t know why I’m scared ’cause I’ve been here before
Every feeling every word, I’ve imagined it all,
You never know if you never tried
To forgive your past and simply be mine

I dare you to let me be your, your one and only
I promise I’m worthy to hold in your arms
So come on and give me the chance
To prove that I’m the one who can
Walk that mile until the end starts

I know it ain’t easy
Giving up your heart
I know it ain’t easy
Giving up your heart

(Nobody’s perfect, trust me I’ve learnt it)
I know it ain’t easy, giving up your heart
(Nobody’s perfect, trust me I’ve learnt it)
I know it ain’t easy, giving up your heart

I know it ain’t easy
Giving up your heart

So I dare you to let me be your, your one and only
I promise I’m worthy to hold in your arms
So come on and give me the chance
To prove I’m the one who can
Walk that mile until the end starts
Come on and give me a chance
To prove that I’m the one who can
Walk that mile until the end starts.

Written by Greg Wells, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, and Daniel Dodd Wilson

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