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The band performed this in their early years when they played a lot of colleges in the South Carolina area, and a shorter version of the song was released on cassette they put together in 1993 called Kootchypop, which they sold at shows. This version had very little background vocals and few instruments. When Atlantic Records signed the band, they had them re-record the song and released it as their first single.
David Crosby, famous for his work with Crosby, Stills, and Nash, sang backup on this and some other songs on the album. Crosby is known for his ability to harmonize.
This song got a lot of airplay and helped make the Cracked Rear View album (named for a line in the John Hiatt song "Learning How To Love You" the bestseller of 1995 in the US. The single was released shortly before the album came out, and it was a slow build: They made appearances on The Tonight Show and The Late Show With David Letterman in 1994, but their first US tour was as the openers for Big Head Todd & the Monsters. It was in February, 1995 that "Hold My Hand" reached its peak chart position, as Hootie & the Blowfish filled a niche of mellow pop that wasn't being served by the Grunge and Gangsta Rap that was prevalent at the time.
Frontman Darius Rucker told The Boot
that this was the first Hootie song he heard being played on the radio. He recalled: "The first time I heard a Hootie song, Dean Felber - our bass player for Hootie - and I were driving in his car and 'Hold My Hand' came on the radio - first time we had heard it on the radio. We were in Columbia, S.C. It came on the radio, and we were listening to it and about halfway through the song, he reached over and he turned it [up], and we just started giggling.
That was in early 1994. My heart raced. For me, it was a moment where I thought, 'Wow! This is radio... not just some college
radio, we're on pop
radio!' We had been playing for nine years! It thought this might really be starting to happen. I thought we might be played on the radio. I didn't think we'd get played on the radio like we eventually did. That was a great day! You never forget the first time you hear your first song on the radio - that's hard to forget."
The group did a special version of this song for the kid's TV show Sesame Street about how children should hold a grownup's hand when they cross the street. (thanks, Lisa - Bowling Green, KY)
Hootie & the Blowfish suffered a bit of a backlash from overexposure, but they were really cool in 1995. Even MTV thought so, and gave them Best New Artist Video for "Hold My Hand" at their Video Music Awards that year. Still questioning the cool? They also performed the song with Al Green in December, 1995 at the Billboard Music Awards, where Cracked Rear View was named Album of the Year.
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