Saturday, March 21, 1981

REO Speedwagon “Keep on Loving You” hit #1

Keep on Loving You

REO Speedwagon

Writer(s): Kevin Cronin (see lyrics here)


Released: November 4, 1980


First Charted: November 29, 1980


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 2 RR, 1 CL, 9 AR, 7 UK, 2 CN, 3 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.2 UK, 2.2 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 80.8 video, 217.45 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“For at least a few years in the early ’80s, REO Speedwagon became quite possibly the biggest rock band in America.” SG They formed in 1967 and built a following during the ‘70s from constant touring, but hadn’t become a real chart threat, having peaked with the “radio-rock nugget ‘Time for Me to Fly’” SG at a mere #56. According to Kevin Cronin, the band’s lead singer, the group “didn’t know the Billboard charts from a cookbook.” FB

“Keep on Loving You” “changed everything for REO Speedwagon, and for power balladry in general.” SG It “made effective use of that formula: Slow build, enormous crashing melodramatic chorus, triumphantly blazing guitar solo, quick coda.” SG As Cronin said, “I realized that you can take a ballad and put the energy there…It doesn’t have to be fast and loud.” FB

Cronin wrote the song after finding out his wife had cheated on him before they were married. In the song, he is “clearly bitter about what’s happened, but he pledges to remain with this woman anyway.” SG He called it, “the most painful song I ever wrote.” SF He and his wife divorced a few years later. Cronin shared how couples told him “it was the first dance at their wedding or its ‘their song’…My first thought is always, ‘Wait. Did you listen to the verses of the song?” SF

It is a “rough song” SG but it “became a slow-dance anthem because of the chorus, which is the part of the song that everyone actually remembers.” SG “Cronin might be pouring his heart out on the long first verse, but he almost seems to be killing time before the monster hook, the lighters-up moment.” SG

The band didn’t want to record the piano-based song because it was too soft but it worked once Gary Richrath’s “big, crashing guitar chords lent [it] weight and force.” SG “Cronin’s pinched and reedy voice gets bigger and more robust as the song keeps going. Underneath him, the backing vocals sound like a choir. The pianos gleam. The guitar solo wails. It’s all very sharp and precise and professional – a cheap-seats rocker that just barely pierces your consciousness when it plays over in-store speakers in a Walgreens.” SG


Resources:

  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 539.
  • SF Songfacts
  • SG Stereogum (4/27/2020). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia


Related Links:


First posted 6/29/2022.

Friday, March 20, 1981

Styx charted with “Too Much Time on My Hands”

Too Much Time on My Hands

Styx

Writer(s): Tommy Shaw (see lyrics here)


First Charted: March 20, 1981


Peak: 9 US, 8 CB, 7 HR, 9 RR, 4 CL, 2 AR, 4 CN, 67 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 16.9 video, 23.25 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

From 1974 to 1990, Styx landed in the top-10 eight times. Prior to “Too Much Time on My Hands,” Styx had graced the upper echelon with “Lady,” “Come Sail Away,” the #1 hit “Babe,” and “The Best of Times,” the first single from Paradise Theater. They would later hit the top 10 with “Mr. Roboto,” “Don’t Let It End,” and “Show Me the Way.” All those, however, were written and sung by Dennis DeYoung.

Tommy Shaw, the band’s guitarist and singer with a more rock-edged vibe, had reached the top-40 with “Fooling Yourself,” “Blue Collar Man,” and “Renegade,” but “Too Much Time on My Hands” was his first time with a top-10 hit written and sung by him. The song was “a straight-ahead chug-a-lugger with a heightened chorus and crisp keyboards.” AMG It was the second single from Paradise Theater, the band’s only #1 album. Overall, the album “followed the theme of a concert hall rising to prominence and then crumbling, based on a real venue: the Paradise Theatre in Chicago.” SF This song, however, does not fit the theme.

Shaw was inspired by Mark’s Tavern in Niles, Michigan, where he was living at the time. As he said, “It was the local watering hole. The drinks were good, and the drinks were cheap. You could go in there with 20 bucks and be a hero, you know - buying rounds of drinks. And you'd always run into somebody you knew in there. That was the basis of the song.” SF

The video combined scenes from a bar with the band engaged in “goofy antics” SF mixed with footage of the band performing the song. The video got a lot of airplay when MTV went on the air in August 1981 as it was one of the few videos by an American band. SF In 2016, Jimmy Fallon did a shot-by-shot renactment of the video with guest Paul Rudd and others.


Resources and Related Links:

First posted 6/24/2021.