The British-American rock band Foreigner’s early hits — songs like “Urgent,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded” and “Feels Like the First Time” — created the impression of a group with a one-track, lust-crazed mind. Foreigner transcended itself, though, with its 1984 hit, “I Want to Know What Love Is,” an explosive gospel ballad that added a spiritual aspect previously missing from its work.
And the New Jersey Mass Choir helped the band get there.
Foreigner guitarist-songwriter Mick Jones had been searching for a gospel choir to help the band with the song, and found the choir through an album it had made. The band set up a recording session with the choir in New York.
Jones described the session this way, in an interview with the web site, ultimateclassicrock.com:
“We did a few takes, and it was good, but it was still a bit tentative. So then they all got round in a circle, held hands and said The Lord’s Prayer. And it seemed to inspire them, because after that they did it in one take. I was in tears, because my mum and dad were in the studio too, and it was so emotional.”
Members of the choir backed Foreigner in the song’s video (see below), too, and “I Want to Know What Love Is” became Foreigner’s first — and only — No. 1 hit.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.