When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

Album: Greatest Hits (1986)
Charted: 1 2
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This is from the soundtrack of the movie The Jewel Of The Nile. The film's three: stars Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito sang backup, but because they were not members of the Musicians Union, Ocean's video was banned in the UK. Despite this handicap, the song became Ocean's only #1 UK hit.
  • The origin of the saying that inspired this is not certain, but it has been attributed to Joseph P Kennedy, the father of John F Kennedy and one time US Ambassador to Britain.
  • This was co-written by Billy Ocean and produced by "Mutt" Lange, whose only previously UK #1 had been back in 1978 when the Boomtown Rats topped the UK chart with "Rat Trap."
  • Ocean was inspired to use the title phrase by one particular scene in The Jewel Of The Nile when Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas' characters (Joan and Jack) are discussing their future. Joan turns to Jack and says, "When the going gets tough, the tough well, I don't know what the tough do."
  • Billy Ocean was born Leslie Charles in Trinidad on January 21, 1950. Ocean moved to England at the age of 8, and by his teenage years, was singing regularly in London clubs. His first hit single came in 1975 with "Love Really Hurts Without You," which peaked on the singles chart at #2 in the UK and #22 in the US. Ocean had hits in the '80s with "Caribbean Queen," "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" and "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car."
  • If Ocean had shaved one word from the title, this song may have hit the top spot in America. Ocean had three #1 hits in the US, and they all had eight word titles: "Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)," "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)," and "Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car."
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Comments: 6

  • Chris from SomewherePete from Austrailia, I can answer that. It was the British Musicians Union who had the video banned, because Danny DeVito was NOT an actual saxophone player, nor was he a member of said union, who, as I recall, were VERY strict when it came to rules and infringements.
  • Sioraf from Macroon, IrelandIt's Jewel Of The Nile. Aptly, a band called The Nubians also performed a song for the film (the Nubians were a people to the south of Egypt who were constantly at war with the Ancient Egyptians until they were defeated and assimilated).
  • Patrick from Naarden, Netherlands@ Tony: Internet Movie Database says it's Jewel of the Nile, check http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089370/soundtrack
  • Tony from Canberra, AustraliaI have a CD called All Time Greatest Movie Songs which says the song is from Romancing the Stone not Jewel of The Nile. Anyone know which is correct
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaHow come this song never made Blenders Top 50 Worst list? Billy Ocean was CHEATED.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australia i heard Billy had fun with the chorus ,instead of saying "going gets tough" he said "go and get stuffed" hmmm ya never know ......also when Danny Devito pretended to play the sax in the video...some muso's union kicked up a stink, how Danny shouldn't have faked playing it

    God knows why?????
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