How Long?
by Ace

Album: Five-A-Side (1974)
Charted: 20 3
  • Many listeners believed that this was a love song. The truth is that is was about bass player Terry Comer working with other bands (he played briefly with The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver before returning to Ace). He didn't tell the members of Ace and they felt cheated. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    james - herrin, IL
  • Paul Carrack was the lead singer of Ace. He went on to sing for Squeeze and Mike And The Mechanics and had a solo hit with "Don't Shed a Tear."
  • This was Ace's only hit. They broke up in 1977.
  • The bass introduction is borrowed from "Traveling Song" by the British folk rock group Pentangle.
  • When singer-songwriter Paul Carrack appeared on the BBC Breakfast news programme on June 29, 2009 he was asked about the inspiration for this song. Rather than being about a two-timing lover it was, he said, about another band who were "trying to nick our bass player".
    "How Long?" was one of the first songs he ever wrote and remains one of his biggest hits. It was released on the Anchor label, copyright 1974, backed by "Sniffin' About", and produced by John Anthony for Neptune Productions. It has been recorded many times since. Terry Comer, the bass player a rival band were trying to "nick", returned in time to play on the original recording.

Comments: 19

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 27th 1975, Ace performed "How Long?" on the NBC-TV program 'The Midnight Special'...
    The week before this appearance on the show was their 16th and final week on the Top 100; the position was #49...
    Twenty-one years later in 1996 the band's frontman, Paul Carrack, released a solo version of the song, his version peaked at #32 in the United Kingdom...
    (See next post below for additional chart info).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 2nd 1975, "How Long?" by Ace entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #89; and on May 25th it peaked at #3 (for 2 weeks) and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
    It also reached #3 in Canada and #20 in the United Kingdom...
    The group one other record to make the Top 100, "Rock and Roll Runaway", it stayed on the chart for 4 weeks, peaking at #71.
  • David from Hazlet, NjSomeone commented the song peaked in April of that year. Scott from Harrisburg, PA was correct. It did peak at number 3 for two weeks. Why it didn't hit number one is beyond me-it is one of the best songs of the decade. Paul Carrack is an amazing singer and musician! I downloaded this and can't stop listening to it.
  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaWithout the Net, I never would have guessed this was anything but a song about a woman cheating. Kind of disappointed somehow, but now I can infer why it starts with those bass (player) notes. The lyric, "break up our scene" makes a lot more sense now, too.
  • Paul from Pittsburgh, PaThe first song I was aware of that Paul Carick sang on was "Tempted" when he was with Squeeze. I never put two and two together that it was his distinctive voice on "How Long", which was a favorite song of mine from years before. He also did great later on with "The Living Years". Thanks for your wonderful talent, Paul!
  • Brian from Boston, MaPaul Carrack was Amazing. I seemed whenever he sang with a band they had a hit. Only recently did realize he sang this song.
  • Bazzaman from Johnson, VtI've heard this tune a zillion times on classic rock radio stations over the years, and tonight I finally decided to figure out who the heck recorded it! It's certainly one of the better "one hit wonders" of the 70's.
  • Mark from Springfield, MaWithout question, one of the best song's of the 70's!
  • Patricia from Santa Barbara, CaI first head this song on KNX FM in Anaheim, CA when I was a mere Freshman in High school. Fell in love with Paul, his voice and the song. To this day I enjoy it! I also enjoyed Paul performing with Mike and the Mechanics. Fantastic voice. :-)
  • Mike from Verona, VaOne of my favorite songs from 1975. I was 21 when this song came out. What memories this song brings back. Priceless!
  • Becky from Box Springs, GaI love this has one of the best bass lines ever....
  • Scott from Harrisburg, PaIn America, this song peaked at #3 on May 31, 1975. That week the top two songs were both country crossovers: John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" at #2, and Freddy Fender's "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" at #1.
  • Mark from Des Moines, IaIt's truly sad they didn't have any other hits. This song is great!!!
  • Scott from Columbus, Oh
    My initial perception of the song was that of a man singing to his lover as he discovers her infidelity.
    I'm quite glad it lends it's self to much more than that as it turns out, although there is nothing profound to say or feel about this song (unless maybe your a victim of a recent break-up)
    In most cases. it boils down to some catchy lyrics and fluid vocals... mostly akin to what I expect to hear from groups like Ambrosia.

    This and other songs will top the charts but most likely not make their way to the hearts of critical listeners.
    Though, on a personal scale, I loved it =)
  • Derek from Cambridge, New ZealandI met Paul Carrack while working for a radio station in UK, and he is the most wonderful man I have ever met. He is a perfect gent, and a credit to the profession.
  • Gina from Oakland, CaRod Stewart covered this song on the Tonight I'm Yours album in 1981.
  • Silverado from Green Bay, WiThis song actually peaked in April 1975
  • Ross from Independence, MoToo bad didn't do more stuff like this
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiacovered by an Australian band in the late 70's i think they were called Scandal
see more comments

Marvin GayeFact or Fiction

Did Marvin try out with the Detroit Lions? Did he fake crazy to get out of military service? And what about the cross-dressing?

Subversive Songs Used To SellSong Writing

Songs about drugs, revolution and greed that have been used in commercials for sneakers, jeans, fast food, cruises and cars.

Chris IsaakSongwriter Interviews

Chris tells the story of "Wicked Game," talks milkshakes and moonpies at Sun Records, and explains why women always get their way.

Dave MasonSongwriter Interviews

Dave reveals the inspiration for "Feelin' Alright" and explains how the first song he ever wrote became the biggest hit for his band Traffic.

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many SongsSong Writing

For songwriters, Johnny represents the American man. He has been angry, cool, magic, a rebel and, of course, marching home.

Oliver LeiberSongwriter Interviews

Long before she was judging contestants on American Idol, Oliver was producing Paula Abdul. Here's how he helped turn this unknown choreographer into a star.