One of the things that amazes me to this day is the where, when, why and how a song evolves from being just a song by a band or a singer to being a FAVORITE song by a band or a singer.
On this date in 1985, Cheap Trick, one of the hardest working Rock bands out there, whose music I had enjoyed since the 1979 live version of “I Want You To Want Me,” debuted at No. 93 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 with “Tonight It’s You.”
From Cheap Trick’s eighth studio album, STANDING ON THE EDGE, “Tonight It’s You” was the Rockford, Illinois band’s first single to reach the Hot 100 in three years, and the last time they had reached the Top 40 in this country was back in early 1980 with “Voices” (from 1979’s DREAM POLICE album).
“Tonight It’s You” had a great first week on the Hot 100, moving from No. 93 to No. 73, and from there steadily rose an average of 2-3 positions each week. By the time “Tonight It’s You” reached its No. 44 peak in mid-October 1985, I was more than a month into my first semester at college, attending the (then) New England School of Broadcasting (now Communications, or NESCom for short). “Tonight It’s You” would stay on the Hot 100 for 17 weeks total, a longer stay than some songs that reach actually No. 1.
As to the where, when, why and how “Tonight It’s You” became my favorite Cheap Trick song, well, I think where and when happened while at NESB. I went there to become a radio broadcaster, and part of the training was to have one weekly morning news slot and one weekly radio DJ slot on the Husson College (now Husson University) radio station, WHSN.
Today, they may be Bangor’s Rock Alternative, but back in 1985, WHSN aired Adult Contemporary (AC) music. I can’t remember if “Tonight It’s You” was considered “AC enough” to be aired on WHSN or if I aired it on my own volition (which I prolly did and is prolly the “how” in this equation), but somewhere along the way, a chord stuck inside of me that semester and I fell right in love with “Tonight It’s You.”
In the original poetic-like ROLLING STONE review by the amazing David Fricke for STANDING ON THE EDGE, he mentioned this about “Tonight It’s You”: “‘Tonight It’s You’ is gorgeous Top Forty mischief, reminiscent of the Raspberries’ 1973 neo-operatic nugget, ‘Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).’ Cascading acoustic guitars decorate axeman Rick Nielsen’s wall of monster fuzz while singer Robin Zander wails in front of sheetmetal harmonies. The cumulative effect is like three or four hit songs vacuum-packed into one.”
Cheap Trick would not have another Hot 100 hit until 1988, when their big comeback album, LAP OF LUXURY, gave them their first and, to date, only No. 1 song, “The Flame.” I don’t know about you, but I can actually hear a bit of “Tonight It’s You” in “The Flame.” I might not have been conscious of the similarity or inspiration right away, but after nearly 30 years, you’re bound to notice stuff like that.
With my dear and sensationally-talented friend, Hope, I saw Cheap Trick for the first time in 2015 on Portland’s Maine State Pier (opening for Peter Frampton), and they were phenomenal. Though “Tonight It’s You” wasn’t performed, it was certainly worth the multi-decade wait.
This year, Cheap Trick is on the same live bill as Joan Jett and Heart, and the tour was in Mansfield, Massachusetts a few nights ago. They are also touring in support of their new album (released on 4.1.2016), BANG, ZOOM, CRAZY… HELLO. It is their first studio album in seven years, and was not only well-received, but it’s their highest-charting album here in America since LAP OF LUXURY back in 1988.
As for the “why” in regards to “Tonight It’s You” being my favorite Cheap Trick song? Well, I’m not entirely sure, but I do know I can definitely feel the honest passion in Robin Zander’s vocals: “All I want is a place in your heart / To fall into / All I need is someone to love / And tonight it’s you…” He sings it like he means it, and I believe him. And, “Tonight It’s You” will always have a place in my heart to fall into…