Looking For Clues

Album: Clues (1980)
Charted: 33

Songfacts®:

  • Palmer's fourth single, this has a mid-1960's sound to it. It kept Palmer's career momentum going, and gave him exposure on the fledgling MTV network, which was launched in 1981. He had a clever video prepared for the song that played well at the time. The clip was aired on MTV's first day of broadcasting. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
  • The singer in this one is confused and confounded by the girl. All he can do is look for clues to help him out with the relationship.
  • This song contains a rare xylophone solo. In the video, Palmer does a digitally enhanced dance on the instrument - something that would appear in similar form as part of the 1988 Tom Hanks movie Big.
  • This was probably the only song in UK chart history to spend five consecutive weeks at #33 - it never rose any higher.
  • Influenced by new wave and synthpop, the album was a success with European audiences, particularly with the younger listeners Palmer was trying to attract, but it didn't fare as well in the US. "The technology was so primitive that you spent most of the time behind the machines with a screwdriver," he told Q magazine in 1988. "But it did give you a simplicity of form. In America, that record was regarded as inaccessible and avant-garde when it came out."
  • This was used in the 2007 movie Nancy Drew, starring Emma Roberts.
  • The music video premiered on August 1, 1981, MTV's first day of broadcasting. It was #23 in the lineup, following Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight."

Comments: 4

  • Thomas Leonard from Pittsburgh, Pa, PaPalmer would refer to this song's video as his "Sesame Street" phase during interviews in the late 80s. Though the song had only minor success in the US the video clip would become one of his most memorable behind the trilogy of "Palmer Girls" videos for Addicted To Love, I Didn't Mean To Turn You On, & Simply Irresistible.
  • Drew from B\'ham, AlA story line not too far removed from that in Genesis' "That's All". A failing relationship that is next to impossible to sort out. Only in this one is it being even remotely sorted out.
  • Andy from B'ham, AlMid '60s? It sounds a lot more like mid to late '70s to me!
    In this hit Robert Palmer makes an astounding Billy Idol impression. Like in "White Wedding" Idol uses a bass voice which sounds almost identical to Palmer's voice in "Looking For Clues".
  • Reuben from Amsterdam, NetherlandsFrom the album in which Palmer switched to synthesizer sound, with the help of Gary Numan for instance.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Kristian Bush of SugarlandSongwriter Interviews

Kristian talks songwriting technique, like how the chorus should redefine the story, and how to write a song backwards.

They Might Be GiantsSongwriter Interviews

Who writes a song about a name they found in a phone book? That's just one of the everyday things these guys find to sing about. Anything in their field of vision or general scope of knowledge is fair game. If you cross paths with them, so are you.

Producer Ron NevisonSong Writing

Ron Nevison explains in very clear terms the Quadrophenia concept and how Heart staged their resurgence after being dropped by their record company.

Subversive Songs Used To SellSong Writing

Songs about drugs, revolution and greed that have been used in commercials for sneakers, jeans, fast food, cruises and cars.

John ParrSongwriter Interviews

John tells the "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" story and explains why he disappeared for so long.

Church LyricsMusic Quiz

Here is the church, here is the steeple - see if you can identify these lyrics that reference church.