Young Turks

Album: Tonight I'm Yours (1981)
Charted: 11 5


  • Many of Stewart's songs tell stories. This one is about a young couple, Billy and Patty, who are full of dreams but short on cash. Feeling stifled, they leave home and set out for a new life together. They live wild and free, but the song ends with Billy breaking the news to Patty's parents that they had a baby boy. They have a number of challenges ahead, but time is on their side.
  • In English vernacular, a "Young Turk" is a rebellious kind of teenager who would go against the grain. The phrase comes from insurgents in the Ottoman Empire during the late 1800s and early 1900s - 1908 marked the Young Turk Revolution.

    The phrase "young turks" doesn't appear in the lyrics; Stewart sings, "Young hearts be free tonight."
  • Stewart wrote the lyrics, but the music was composed by his drummer, Carmine Appice, and two of his keyboard players, Duane Hitchings and Kevin Savigar. Appice and Hitchings also laced the track for "D'ya Think I'm Sexy."

    In a Songfacts interview, Appice said: "Rod was always trying to be on the cutting edge at that time, so we did drum machine stuff. Duane had just gotten a sequencer, so we started screwing around and came up with the chords and melodies. We presented it to Rod. This one was easy because we used the whole concept that we came up with. We just transferred it from the 8-track that Duane had going right onto the 24-track. We used the drum machine and everything. Once we gave Rod the music, he wrote the lyrics."

    Hitchings told Songfacts: "I put together the whole song at my house with Carmine's help and used an Oberheim OBX-A, Oberheim DMA sequencer and the Oberheim DMX drum box. It was really one of the first one-man-band setups. We took the whole setup in the studio and recorded straight to tape. I started the idea because Devo was real big and one of my favorite groups, thus the fast pulsing synth groove. And of course Rod did a great job!! Got a bit of help with a nice instrumental line from Kevin Savigar also!"
  • Appice told Songfacts: "Rod would put the lyric melody to the music we came up with. On that one, we used a drum machine, and I played hi-hat and cymbals overdubbed to the drum machine."
  • This was the first video played on MTV that contained breakdancing. It was released a few months after MTV went on the air, and benefited from lots of play on the channel. Of about 200 videos in MTV's rotation, Stewart had about 40. Says Appice: "The videos were cutting edge. He had top-of-the line people. When I first joined him, the first video we did was for 'Hot Legs,' and that was a great video. It was played all over the world. For every album we did with Rod, we did two or three videos. There were a lot of stations that would play videos. There were video outlets in Australia and England. Top Of The Pops would play the videos all the time."
  • This was featured in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Comments: 23

  • Bb from CroatiaDoes anyone know the name of a guy who played Billy?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 26th 1981, Rod Stewart performed "Young Turks" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was in its 2nd of three weeks at #5 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, that was also its peak position on the chart...
    {See 2nd post below}.
  • James from MinneapolisThe guy who played "Billy" in the music video also played an "after"(Hottie) in Olivia Newton-John's video for her hit "Physical"
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 11th 1981, "Young Turks" by Rod Stewart entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #61; and on December 13th, 1981 it peaked at #5 {for 3 weeks} and spent 19 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #1 in the Netherlands...
    Between 1971 and 1999 he had fifty-three Top 100 records; sixteen made the Top 10 with four reaching #1, "Maggie May" for 5 weeks in 1971, "Tonight's the Night" for 7 weeks in 1976, "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" for 4 weeks in 1979, and "All for Love" {with Bryan Adams & Sting} for 3 weeks in 1994...
    Roderick David Stewart will celebrate his 70th birthday in three months on January 10th {2015}; and sad to say five days later on January 15 I will also turn 70 years old {I hope he’s handing getting 'old' better than me}.
  • Jeff from Kingston, TnI am glad we cleared up the English slang for the word. I know the song is about taking advantage of being young. I was wondering how the Ottoman Empire was working into this song.
  • Michael from Glen Burnie Md, MdThe Santa Fe Grill, where Tommy comes out of the second story window and climbs down the fire escape, is still there at the corner of 7th and Santa Fe (693 South Santa Fe Avenue is the address displayed by Bing Maps) in Los Angeles; it doesn't say "Santa Fe Grill" anymore and the electric/ neon signs are all different, but brick pillar in front of the building is still there and the decorative brick banding near the roof indicate this is definitely the same building. The hotel is still there, too, at 607 S. Spring Street. Shown as "Hotel Hayward"in the video, it's now "Hayward Hotel International".
  • Greg from New York City, NyRod got the phrase "Young Turks" reading an article that said, "All the young turks where lined up around the block......." I guess he just liked that phrase. I would imagine the guitars are Jim Cregan & Robin LeMusier(sp) Perhaps Wally Stocker?
  • Thomas Leonard from Pittsburgh, Pa, PaAmerican Idol Taylor Hicks covered this song on his US tour in 2006-07.
  • Kilroy from Gdl, Mexicothese lines are very deep
    Because life is so brief and time is a thief when you're undecided.

    And like a fistful of sand, it can slip right through your hands.
  • Tim from Albany, NyWho played guitar on this track, it sure sounds like Mark Knopfler?
  • Brad from Long Island, Nyhey Shelli and Tonya, the actress to which you refer, Elizabeth Daily ("Valley Girls" was nicholas cage's 1st movie) and she is the voice of Tommy in the "Rugrats" cartoon, voicing a baby boy.
  • Duane Hitchings from Hendersonville, Tn, TnThe song was recorded on the Oberheim OBX-a, the Oberheim DMA sequencer and the Oberheim DMX drum machine, not the Linn. I know - it was my equipment and I co-write it with Rod and Carmine with a little help from Kevin Savigar. We brought the gear into the studio and dumped directly to 24 track. And of of course, Rod did his usual brillant job at melodies and lyric/story telling. Not many people know this but Rod co-wrote just about ALL of his hits. Great writer !!
  • Darrell from EugeneJust one question? Why in the Sam Hill do they call this song "Young Turks" when it has NOTHING to do with Turkey or Turkmenistan?
  • Adrian from Kingston, Canadahas anyone realized if england ever gets into a war they are screwd? they have Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger and Elton John to fight... whats the queen doing over there
  • Stephanie from Houston, TxI was a teenager in love when this song came out, and I have to admit, the idea of running away and living out my own life, free of my parents, was a fantasy I held quite dear at the time. Now, I'm a parent of a sixteen year old girl. It's funny how your perspective of a song changes in 25 years....
  • Matthew from East Brunswick, NjYoung Hearts be Free Tonight. Thank you Sir Rod.
  • T Guzman-sanchez from Northridge, CaThis is the first video that featured Popping on MTV. Performed by legendary OG Dancemaster Cool Pockets Paul form OG Chain Reaction Dancers also featured in Xanadu which was the first time Locking and Popping had ever been shown in the movies.
  • Leigh from Chicago, IlInspiring stuff, this song.... Created the year of my birth: 1981! And like Billy and Patti's baby boy, I too am a love child. Rock on! Screw formal nuptials! Just kidding, I'm marrying my bf before I have his babies, but you gotta admit free love is where it's at!
  • Chris from Charleston, ScThe drum machine used for this song was the Linn LM-1 - THE drum machine of the 80s.
  • Nathan from Defiance, Oh"Young Turks" is a Victorian phrase meaning reformer or radical seeking change or enlightenment in culture. Young Turks were in actuallity, twentysomething Turkish politicians who attempted to reform the ailing Ottoman empire in the late 19th century. They met with little success and the empire collasped shortly afterward.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThe main chorus line is not "Young Turks...", but in fact "Young HEARTS run free tonight". The song is about two young lovers who elope, and later try to explain to their heartbroken friends and family back home why they did it and why they can never return. The song reached No.11 in the UK as a double A-side with "Hot Legs".
  • Tonya from Mobile, AlThe word "Turks" is never mentioned in the song. The actress in the video is E.G. Daily. She was also in the movie "Valley Girl".
  • Shelli from Madison, WiThe actress who played "Dottie" in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure was the female lead in this video.
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