Writer(s): Paul Carrack (see lyrics here)
First Charted: November 9, 1974
Peak: 3 US, 11 CB, 3 GR, 3 HR, 3 RR, 24 AC, 1 CL, 20 UK, 3 CN, 63 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 45.22 video, 38.33 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Singer/songwriter and musician Paul Carrack was born in 1951 in Sheffield, England. The BBC called him “The Man with the Golden Voice.” WC He experienced some success as a solo artist (“I Need You,” “Don’t Shed a Tear”) but has generally achieved his greatest success as part of other people’s groups, including Squeeze (“Tempted”) and Mike + the Mechanics (“Silent Running,” “The Living Years”). He’s also been a touring member with Eric Clapton and Roger Waters and worked as a keyboardist with Roxy Music. Record Collector said, “If vocal talent equalled financial success, Paul Carrack would be a bigger name than legends such as Phil Collins or Elton John.” WC
He was first thrust into the spotlight in the mid-‘70s as the frontman and principal songwriter of Ace from 1972 to 1977. They released three albums, with only the first, Five-A-Side, finding any real success (#11, US). That was primarily due to the song “How Long,” which was a #3 hit in the US and reached #20 in the UK. Phil Collins called the song a “classic single” and ranked it as one of his top 10 favorites. WH
Carrack said the song “lifted Ace out of the London pub-rock circuit.” UCR Most bands were doing covers, but Ace wrote their own material. He wrote the lyrics on the back of a bus ticket while heading to his future mother-in-law’s house. UCR While the song is interpreted as being about adultery, Carrack said it was inspired by a different kind of cheating. His band felt betrayed when they found out bassist, Terry “Tex” Comer, had secretly been working with other groups. The line “friends with their fancy persuasions” is said to refer to the management of the groups Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. WH
The song experienced a resurgence in 2020, topping Billboard’s Rock Digital Song Sales chart after its use in an ad for Amazon Prime titled “Binge Cheat” which featured the song’s opening line (“How long has this been going on?”). UCR
First posted 12/6/2022; last updated 12/29/2022.
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