Holding Back The Years

Album: Picture Book (1985)
Charted: 2 1

Songfacts®:

  • Simply Red is singer Mick Hucknall ("Red" was his nickname because of his red hair). He originally recorded this in 1979 with his band The Frantic Elevators.
  • Hucknall wrote this in his bedroom at his father's house. He was still a teenager.
  • Simply Red went on to record 10 UK Top 10 hits, including "Fairground" a 1995 #1. In the US, their cover of Harold Melvyn's "If You Don't Know Me by Now" became their second American chart topper and the best selling British single in the US in 1989. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above

Comments: 19

  • Olley from CanadaThis version is the nicest in my opinion. Several other bands did it but it was first done by the Marvellets in the 60s.
  • Melinda from AustraliaThis beautiful song always reminds me of the mid 80’s. I even remember the day I heard it. I was workin and I suddenly stopped. Spellbound by the vocals. And what I thought it might be about.

    I thought the song was about the past, and lookin back, regretting lost years. Sadness and regrets. Very moving. We didn’t know about his horrible childhood in the 80’s, when Simply Red had mega fame.

    This song is equally as good ..as his song, Do The Right Thing. I love that also. But that song is clearly about sex. But in a good way. Mick Hucknall and his band Simply Red dominated the charts in the -1980’s and early 1990’s. Especially in the UK.
  • Ed from Keene, New HampshireThe late jazz singer "Little" Jimmy Scott does the only good cover version of this song I've heard. He was born with Kallman syndrome (with stunted growth and a high-pitched voice for a man) ... one reason why he could make the song his.
  • Markantney from BiloxeJul 2015, when I first heard this cut back in the 80s (can't remember if it was video or radio) but I've always thought it was a Remake of 70s R&B Song? This song and "Fragile" by Sting can almost be looped and heard all day by me. Great song, excellent vocals. Of a Remake, never done:):)

    BTW, the Rap Group, Brand Nubian made an excellent song with this as a sample. A rap song with a great message called, "Hold On".
  • Brad from Hickory, NcBittersweet song/memory of Melbourne, FL & Debbie W. Sunset on Hwy 520 amongst the cranes & gators...luxury life standing still.
  • Kenne from Phoenix, AzThe music video featured British actress Maggie O'Neill in her acting debut, she would later go on to star on British television.

    This video was #29 on MTV's top 100 videos of 1986.
  • Edwina from Chicago, IlThis is one of the best song and artist...I just love this man...this is wonderful...he is so soulful...great.
  • Joann from Portsmouth, VaLove this song, reminds me of when i worked the night shift at the gas station, those were the days or i mean nights, used to think it was a woman singing this, boy was i wrong.
  • Philip from Manchester, United KingdomAs mentioned, this song was written in Mick's bedroom. It's my favourite Simply Red song, and probably my favourite song of the mid/late 80s. Its only recently, that I realised it was all about wrestling with the idea of leaving family, friends and Hucknall's hometown of Denton (nr. Manchester, England), which is also my home town. A "gritty, working class" version of Abba's little known "I Wonder"? - maybe not!
  • Jennifer from Indianapolis, InI love the quality of Mick Hucknall's voice, especially in this song - superb!
  • Giveusakiss from Geelong, AustraliaSuperb song. I've never heard anyone do a cover version of this song - anyone else would ruin it.
  • Chris from Geelong, AustraliaFantastic song. Beautifully done my Mick. Such wonderful colours and moods
  • Ivyrose from Hagatna, OtherIs Mike Hucknall married?
  • Jason from Dublin, Irelandthis song appeared in an episode of the t.v. show only fools and horses entitled Little Problems where rodney gets married. great song. great vocal performance by mick arguably his best. a classic
  • Billy Rhythm from Rockland, MeDon, I don't know Gaelic either, but I know pater and mater are Latin for mother and father, just as you surmise.
  • Don from B G, KyI guess "pater" means father and "mater" means mother. However, I do not know galeic/irish.
  • L from Portland, OrDidn't Carole King or Carly Simon make a version of Holding Back The Years?
  • Katherine from Staten Island, NyThe famous person who first recorded this song was Mike Hucknall himself, along with the rest of his pre-Simply Red outfit The Frantic Elevators.

    The original version is a faster, more uncertain take on the song.
  • Deborah from Memphis, TnWhich famous person recorded this song first? I seemed to have heard this song done by someone before. I thought it was Lionel Ritchie. Please help my friend and I have a bet!
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