The Power of Love

Album: Back to the Future Original Soundtrack (1985)
Charted: 9 1
Play Video


  • This was featured in the movie Back to the Future and included on the soundtrack. It plays in a scene where Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) hears it as he rides his skateboard from Doc's house to school.

    The film's director Robert Zemeckis wanted Lewis to do the song - Huey Lewis & the News were rising stars with a modern sound that worked well in the movie, which takes place in both 1955 and 1985. Lewis had never done film work and hesitated at first, since he didn't want to write a song called "Back to the Future." When Zemeckis told him that the song didn't have to be about the movie, Lewis accepted the challenge.
  • The song has a very universal message that works very well outside of the film. Lewis was newly married and had two young children when he wrote it with his bandmates Johnny Colla and Chris Hayes. His family provided inspiration for the lyrics.
  • Lewis was working on this song while the movie was in post production. By the time Lewis delivered the song, most of the scenes were mixed; the only place the song worked was the scene where Marty is on his skateboard going to school. This scene has nothing to do with the power of love, but music fits the vibe and works in context.
  • An early scene in the film has Marty McFly and his band The Pinheads auditioning for the high school dance. Lewis has an uncredited cameo in this scene, where he plays a teacher who is judging the auditions. The group plays the beginning of "The Power of Love," but before Marty can sing a note, Lewis cuts them off, telling them, "I'm afraid you're just too darn loud."

    We never hear Marty sing because the song wasn't completed yet. Lewis gave a rough mix of the song with dummy lyrics to the film's music supervisor, Bones Howe, who edited it to sound like Marty and his band were playing.

    This was Lewis' first turn at acting; he later appeared in the 1993 movie Short Cuts and played the lead in the 2000 film Duets alongside Gwyneth Paltrow.
  • The song was released before the movie and entered the Hot 100 (at #46) on the chart dated June 29, 1985. The film was released on July 3, and shot to #1 at the box office, where it stayed until late September, interrupted only by National Lampoon's European Vacation for a week in July. "The Power of Love" took longer to reach the top, finally hitting #1 on August 24 and staying for two weeks. It was the first of three US #1 hits for the group - they later hit the top with "Stuck With You" and "Jacob's Ladder."
  • The music video doesn't contain scenes from the film, but does feature an appearance by Christopher Lloyd in character as Doc Brown. We see him pull up in the DeLorean outside of a club where Huey Lewis & the News are performing. Lewis is on stage explaining how the band has now gone Hollywood while some fans take the DeLorean for a temporal joyride.
  • In the '70s, Huey Lewis was in a band called Clover with Alex Call, who went on to write "Jenny (867-5309)" for Tommy Tutone and "Little Too Late" for Pat Benatar. He provided the title. Alex told us: I was hanging out in LA and writing, and I had kind of a big power ballad thing called Power Of Love. Huey called me up one day and said, 'What are you writing,' and I said, 'I've got this song called Power Of Love.' A few months later, they cut me in the deal. It's a lot like a song I would write. Huey and I go back a ways together, and we used to room together - we had a house together and listened to a lot of music together. That song really could be one of my songs, which sounds crazy because they wrote it, and I think they're brilliant - Johnny Colla and Chris Hayes are the guys who really did that music. That modulation and all that kind of stuff, that's the same kind of stuff I do - going to the odd key for the bridge. That might be why I'm having a hard time getting cuts here in Nashville, because I still do that kind of stuff."

    According to Alex, Lewis gave him 10% of the publishing in exchange for the title, which was done out of goodwill, as titles aren't copyrighted.
  • Around this time, a lot of songs came out with the same title, including a Laura Branigan song that became hit for Celine Dion. Says Call, "If a title is floating around, a lot of songwriters get it. There's no doubt about it, I've heard that so many times over the years, so I know it's true. You have thousands of qualified songwriters every day trying to come up with titles for songs. There's how many songs called 'I Will?'"
  • Call did not get a composer credit for his contribution, but he does get paid for it. He explains: "Rock bands, they frequently piece stuff out and then don't put everybody on the copyright. I think in that case, they didn't want my name on the copyright. I think they knew it was going to be a huge breakout hit and they didn't want to confuse the issue with somebody outside the circle. I was happy to get paid. I was a little miffed at the time - if I had my name on that I could have turned it into a publishing deal, but then I'd probably be living in LA and I hated LA, so it's just as well that it worked out the way it did." (Check out our interview with Alex Call.)
  • The Tower of Power horn section played on this track. In addition to their '70s R&B hits like "You're Still A Young Man" and "What Is Hip?," Tower of Power's horn section has played on albums by Santana, Heart, America, Elton John and many others. In his Songfacts interview, founding member Emilio Castillo explained how they got together with Huey Lewis & the News: "We toured with Huey Lewis for four years. He asked me to go on tour when he hit it big with that Sports album. He called me up, said, 'This record is going to the moon, we've got the money, we're wondering if we can hire your horn section to go on the road with us.' I said I'd love to do it, but my main thing in life is Tower of Power, the band, not the horn section.

    We were at a low point in our career, we were not doing well. We didn't have a record deal, we were definitely at a low ebb in the cycle. I told him, 'If you promise me that you'll promote my band at every turn, every interview, every way possible, I will do the tour. And also, I want you to allow us to bring the band out to certain key cities to do midnight shows at the local night club and I want you to promise me that you guys will come and sit in, because then it will be a scene.'

    He was true to his word. He mentioned us in every interview, called us by name several times during the show. He did a couple of Tower of Power songs in the show every night and then after the show was done he would always say, 'We're all going down to, let's say... Toad's Place in New Haven, Tower of Power's playing a midnight show we're going to go jam with them.' We'd go play and it would be packed because everybody wanted to see Huey Lewis and they'd come up and jam with us. We did that in several cities. That really sort of regenerated our career."
  • Huey Lewis & the News provided another original song for the film: "Back in Time," which plays under the end credits. That one is specific to the film, with references to various characters and plot points ("Please don't drive at 88, don't wanna be late again..."). "Back in Time" makes logical sense at the main song from the film and some higher-ups thought it would be the hit single, but music supervisor Bones Howe - who worked on hits for The Association and The 5th Dimension - made it clear that "The Power of Love" was the right song to associate with the movie even though it didn't refer to the film in the lyrics.
  • This appears on several greatest hits compilations. Its only appearance on a Huey Lewis studio album is the UK version of Fore!

Comments: 6

  • Fred Avolio from MarylandI *think* it is Tougher than diamonds, BREAKS like cream. when cream curdles it is called breaking. Another site suggests RICH. I think BREAKS makes more sense juxtaposed with the UNBREAKABLENESS of a diamond.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyWas nominated for Best Song at the 1985 Academy Awards {Lost to "Say You, Say Me" from the movie "White Nights"}!!!
  • Brian from Boston, MaGreat song yeah I know most will write it off as a cheesy 80's song but I liked it...Also I think Back to The Future part 2 was underrated.Most people think part 3 is the better sequel not me.Part 2 had a darkness to it that I liked
  • John from Grand Island, Ny"I'm sorry son, you're just too darned loud"....classic stuff. That's the funniest scene in the movie.
  • George from Calumet City, IlWhat a truly spectacular song!
  • Dave from Cardiff, Wales"The Power Of Love" was arguably the most popular song-title of the 1980s - at least four different artist released unrelated songs with this name which bcecame big hits (the other three I'm thinking of are Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Jennifer Rush (whose version was also successfully covered by Celine Dion a decade later) and Luther Vandross, although Huey's version remains probably the best-known worldwide, including the UK where it made the Top 20 twice on two different releases within a year of each other, and continues to played to death by radio to this day.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

The Police

The PoliceFact or Fiction

Do their first three albums have French titles? Is "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" really meaningless? See if you can tell in this Fact or Fiction.

Does Jimmy Page Worship The Devil? A Look at Satanism in Rock

Does Jimmy Page Worship The Devil? A Look at Satanism in RockSong Writing

We ring the Hell's Bells to see what songs and rockers are sincere in their Satanism, and how much of it is an act.

Butch Vig

Butch VigSongwriter Interviews

The Garbage drummer/songwriter produced the Nirvana album Nevermind, and Smashing Pumpkins' Gish and Siamese Dream.

Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders

Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star RidersSongwriter Interviews

Writing with Phil Lynott, Scott saw their ill-fated frontman move to a darker place in his life and lyrics.

Randy Newman

Randy NewmanSongwriting Legends In Their Own Words

Newman makes it look easy these days, but in this 1974 interview, he reveals the paranoia and pressures that made him yearn for his old 9-5 job.

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)Songwriter Interviews

Before "Rap" was a form of music, it was something guys did to pick up girls in nightclubs. Donnie talks about "The Rapper" and reveals the identity of Leah.