Bringin' On the Heartbreak

Album: High 'n' Dry (1981)
Charted: 61
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  • A track from Def Leppard's second album High 'n' Dry, "Bringin' On the Heartbreak" was written by their guitarists Steve Clark and Pete Willis along with lead singer Joe Elliott. It's a big rock ballad with a heartache theme: Elliott sings about a girl who won't let him into her heart. A mysterious and unconstrained creature she is, driving him wild with her laughin' eyes. He can't stop thinking about her, but she's draining him, and soon he'll have nothing left to give.
  • Like the rest of the album, this was produced by Mutt Lange, whose previous productions were some of the most successful albums in rock history: Foreigner's 4 and AC/DC's Back In Black. Lange brought a new level of songcraft to Def Leppard, particularly when it came to memorable choruses and euphonious backing vocals. He stayed with the band through their next two albums, Pyromania (1983) and Hysteria (1987).
  • This is one of Def Leppard's most famous songs, but it failed to chart when it was first released in 1981, as the band was still flying just under the radar. After they hit it big with Pyromania, the song was remixed and included on a 1984 re-release of High 'n' Dry. Issued as a single, the remix helped bridge the four-year gap between albums of original material (due in part to drummer Rick Allen losing an arm). This time, "Bringin' On the Heartbreak" made #61 in the US.
  • On their Hysteria tour in 1987-1988, Def Leppard introduced a different arrangement of this song, with guitarists Steve Clark and Phil Collen playing it on acoustic guitar until the solo, when they would go electric (and the lighters would come down). In our interview with Collen, he said that it was his idea. "We were doing it over and over again and it was the same old, same old, so we thought it would be great if we started it acoustic and then went into Steve Clark's solo. It was halfway and he'd pick up his twin neck and off he goes."

    Collen adds that other acts quickly picked up on the idea. "Around that time Tesla was on tour with us and every time we did that acoustic thing it was a break in the set, and before you knew it, every other band was doing an acoustic set within their set: The Scorpions, Bon Jovi, all the stuff from the '80s, and Tesla who was on tour with us."
  • The band released a very basic video for this song where they perform it in a studio setting. MTV launched around this time, so it got decent airplay on the nascent network. A few years later, Def Leppard became video stars when their clips from the Pyromania album took off on MTV, which had a significant viewership by this time. When the song was re-released in 1984, it got a new video as well, this time a concept piece directed by David Mallet. In this one, Joe Elliott walks through a faux forest, enters a warehouse, and somehow ends up strapped crucifixion-style to some kind of floating vessel with fire. Notably absent: a girl.
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