Group leader Tom Scholz wrote this song, which is about a guy who wakes up with the blahs, turns on some music, and gets lost in reverie dreaming of his days with Marianne. "It was written about a fantasy event," he told Entertainment Weekly of the song. "But it's one that almost everybody can identify with, of somebody losing somebody that was important to them, and music taking them back there."
According to Rolling Stone
magazine, Scholz was inspired by the "heart-tugging mood" of the Left Banke's 1967 song "Walk Away Renee
." He worked on the song for five years in his basement studio before it was released on this album.
Scott - Chicago, IL
Tom Scholz recorded most of Boston's first album, including "More Than a Feeling," in his Watertown, Massachusetts basement studio, which was stocked with equipment he bought with earnings from his job at Polaroid. When Boston finally got a record deal with Epic, they had to abide by union rules and complete it in a proper studio, which Scholz felt was a hindrance. To get around this restriction, he re-recorded his demos pretty much note-for-note in that same basement studio and had his vocalist, Brad Delp, record his vocals in the Los Angeles studio Epic arranged. Boston drummer Sib Hashian played on "More Than a Feeling," but Scholz played all the other instruments on the track.
This was Boston's first single, and a surprising hit. The group's rise was sudden and unexpected; when "More Than a Feeling" was released, their managers spent a lot of time pitching it to radio stations, which is a very tough sell for an unknown band, but the song is so polished and radio-friendly that many stations put it on the air. It took off, and very soon this unknown band with an album recorded mostly in a basement was a major player on the rock scene.
The album Boston is one of the best selling of all time. It sold very well in the '80s and '90s due to catalog sales, which were these offers record companies made to the public where you could get something like "25 CDs for a penny" as long as you chose from their selection and agreed to buy a certain number of albums in the future.
Tom Scholz took a leave of absence from his job at Polaroid to complete the album, but went back to work after it was released - disco was big, so he wasn't sure his rock record would find an audience. He got very excited when co-workers would summon him to let him know "More Than A Feeling" was playing on the radio. After that happened a few times, he was confident enough to quit his day job.
The single was edited down to 3:25 from the album version, which runs 4:44.
Nirvana sometimes played the beginning of this as an intro to "Smells Like Teen Spirit
." When asked about Nirvana's confession of semi-nicking the song's chord progression, Scholz told Best Classic Bands
: "They didn't do a great job on the chorus. I heard the story about people thinking that part of that song sounds like it was a swipe from 'More Than a Feeling.' I don't hear it. If it were, I would consider it a compliment."
When Rolling Stone magazine released a special issue in 2004 devoted to the 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time, "More Than a Feeling" came in at #500. When the list was updated in 2010, the song got bumped.
The dream girl in this song, Marianne, was based on a real person. "She was my older first cousin, who I had a crush on when I was 10," Scholz explained. "I ran into her many many years later and she was very annoyed at me for mentioning that she was my older cousin."
Boston played very few live shows before releasing the album, and when it took off so quickly, they found themselves playing large venues on short notice. An under-rehearsed band playing songs that were meticulously crafted in the studio sounds like a concert disaster, but fans and critics were thrilled to find out they were really good. The live interpretations of the songs worked very well and the band had years of experience playing in other outfits, giving them the chops to pull it off.
Boston wasn't a very visual band. They don't appear on the covers of their studio albums, but they did make music videos for "More Than A Feeling," "Long Time" and "Don't Look Back
" that show them performing on a sound stage. The group was never big on MTV, but could have been if they did a video for "Amanda
," which was a #1 hit in 1986, five years after the network launched.
For many years Boston was the best selling debut album in the US with 17 million sales. However their record was broken on September 23, 2008 when the Recording Industry Association of America certified Guns N' Roses' debut set Appetite for Destruction for 18 million sales.
The song returned to the UK singles chart in 2010 as a result of its use in a TV commercial for Barclaycard. The ad was a follow-up campaign to the one that soundtracked the Bellamy Brothers track "Let Your Love Flow
," which helped the song back to #21 in November 2008.
When Mike Huckabee ran for US president in 2008, he used this song at some of his campaign rallies. Huckabee plays the bass, and at some events, former Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau joined him on stage to perform this song. This didn't go over well with Tom Scholz, who wrote Huckabee a letter that was printed in Rolling Stone
magazine. Scholz wrote: "While I'm flattered that you are fond of my song, I'm shocked that you would use it and the name Boston to promote yourself without my consent. Your campaign's use of 'More Than a Feeling,' coupled with the representation of one of your supporters as a member 'of Boston' clearly implies that the band Boston, and specifically one of its members, has endorsed your candidacy, neither of which is true. Your claim that this was 'the guy who originally did it' is a bit mystifying, since he never played on that recording, nor has he been 'of Boston' since he left my band over a quarter century ago, after performing with us for only three years."
Scholz went on to say that his band has never endorsed a political candidate, "and with all due respect, would not start by endorsing a candidate who is the polar opposite of most everything Boston stands for. In fact, although I'm impressed you learned my bass guitar part on 'More Than a Feeling,' I am an Obama supporter. While this may seem like a little thing to you, Boston has been my life's work." The response from Huckabee's campaign: "Governor Huckabee plays 'Sweet Home Alabama
.' Does that mean Lynyrd Skynyrd is endorsing him? He plays 'Louie Louie
.' Does that mean The Kingsmen are endorsing him?"
An instantly identifiable, high-energy song, "More Than A Feeling" serves as a sugar rush in many TV shows and movies. TV shows to use the song include:
Mindhunter ("Episode #2.4" - 2019)
City on a Hill ("The Night Flynn Sent the Cops on the Ice" - 2019)
The Walking Dead ("The Next World" - 2016)
The Middle ("The Waiting Game" - 2015)
The Mindy Project ("We're a Couple Now, Haters!" - 2014)
Glee ("City of Angels" - 2014)
Eastbound & Down ("Chapter 2" - 2009)
The Wire ("Unconfirmed Reports" - 2008)
Criminal Minds ("Open Season" - 2007)
Scrubs ("My Half-Acre" - 2006)
The Sopranos ("House Arrest" - 2000)
That '70s Show ("The Keg," "Eric's Burger Job" - 1998)
And in these movies:
The Heat (2013)
The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
Herbie Fully Loaded (2005)
What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? (2004)
Krippendorf's Tribe (1998)
She's Having a Baby (1988)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)