"Lookin' for Love" is the title of a song written by Wanda Mallette, Bob Morrison and Patti Ryan, and recorded by American country music singer Johnny Lee. It released in June 1980 as part of the soundtrack to the film Urban Cowboy, released that year.

Background and writingEdit

Wanda Mallette was looking for a universal song idea when she thought of the title "Lookin' For Love In All The Wrong Places" from observing some of her second grade students. She and Patti Ryan, already active writers, turned this song into a commercial country standard. After the completed song demo was sent to Nashville songwriter Bob Morrison, Combine Music published it under the names of all three writers following minor changes. It was pitched widely in Nashville and was also sent to Paramount Studios after many Nashville rejections. A box of songs was sent to Johnny Lee to select one that he would sing in the "Urban Cowboy" movie, starring John Travolta, and "Lookin' for Love" was chosen. The writers didn't expect the song to be released as a single and were told by the publisher not to expect it. However after the movie started playing in theaters it became a single release and sold in excess of one million copies.

Lee's rise to fame[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Lee whose biggest hit to date had been a 1977 cover of Ricky Nelson's "Garden Party" had previously been one of the main nightclub acts at Gilley's, a nightclub owned by country music superstar Mickey Gilley. Record executive Irving Azoff offered Lee the chance to record "Lookin' For Love," a song that 20-plus artists had rejected.[1]

Critics were not kind to Lee nor the song. Country music historian Bill Malone once noted that "Lookin' for Love" — in his words, a "lilting little pop song" — became the featured song ofUrban Cowboy and a huge commercial hit largely because "actor John Travolta (the movie's co-star) expressed a liking for it." [2] Critic Kurt Wolff panned the song as an example of "watered-down cowboy music."[3]

Public reaction was much better. "Lookin' for Love" rose to No. 1 (for a three-week stay) on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart, and became a No. 5 Billboard Hot 100 hit as well.

"Lookin' for Love" was certified gold for sales of 1 million units by the Recording Industry Association of America.[4]

Chart performance[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1980) Peak


U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 5
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 18
Canadian RPM Top Singles 54
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 20

Series[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The song was performed by Johnny Lee in an episode of "Chips".

Cover versions, parodies and tributes[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Country music group Sawyer Brown recorded a cover of the song on the 2000 album The Hits Live. This version peaked at No. 44 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. The song is also featured in the classic Saturday Night Live sketch Buh-Weet Sings, in which Buckwheat from Our Gang (played by Eddie Murphy) sings the song as "Wookin Pa Nub".

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" is titled in tribute to this song ("par'Mach" is defined in the episode as "the Klingon word for love, but with more aggressive overtones").