With a bouncing keyboard riff and a mild Jamaican flavor, this was by far the biggest hit for Wilder, who scored his only other Top 40 in 1984 with "The Kid's American" (#33 US).
In the song, it's a failed relationship with a woman that Wilder is leaving behind him, but the real life inspiration was the record mogul Clive Davis, who was the head of Arista Records at the time. In a Songfacts interview with Matthew Wilder
, he explained that Davis signed him around 1981, but nothing Matthew recorded went over well with Clive. Frustrated, Wilder and his songwriting partner Greg Prestopino came up with "Break My Stride."
"My relationship with Clive Davis was precisely the impetus for my writing the song," said Wilder. "There are lyrics in there that are indirectly referring to the circumstance that were governing my life at that point."
Paying for the session himself, Wilder and some of his friends recorded the song on the overnight shift at the studio owned by Spencer Proffer, who produced the Quiet Riot album Metal Health
. He submitted the song to Arista, but heard nothing. When Wilder called the label to check, he spoke with the A&R head at the label, who found the cassette copy of "Break My Stride" with a note from Clive saying, "Interesting song, but not a hit." "If you guys can't hear this, there's nothing I can do for you anymore," said Wilder, and he suggested that the label drop him, which they did.
Arista never paid for "Break My Stride" and had no rights to it, so Wilder shopped the song around, finding a taker in a new Epic subsidiary label called Private I Records. He got an album deal at the label and "Break My Stride" was the first single. Clive Davis was wrong about this one - the song was a hit, going Top-5 in both the US and UK.