Album: True (1983)
Charted: 1 4
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Songfacts®:

  • The lyrics for this song were inspired by a crush Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp had on Altered Images singer and Gregory's Girl star Clare Grogan. "I was infatuated with Clare Grogan," he told The Guardian. "I met her on Top of the Pops and, at one point, traveled up to Scotland to have tea with her and her mum and dad. Although my feelings were unrequited and the relationship was platonic, it was enough to trigger a song."
  • Some phrases in the lyrics were adapted from the novel Lolita, a copy of which Clare Grogan had given Gary Kemp. "The lyrics are full of coded messages to Clare," Kemp told The Guardian. "I'm still berated for the line 'Take your seaside arms' but it's straight out of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which she had given me as a present – although in the book, it's 'seaside limbs. The line 'With a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue' is also a bastardisation of Nabokov."
  • One of the song's producers, Tony Swain, recalls in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, "We made the True album in the Bahamas and I am sure that a lot of that place got into the album. True was not a complicated song but it has really got something. There is something timeless about it: it has had over 2 million radio plays in America and it has been used in the wedding scenes for lots of films. It's very nice to have made a record that has lasted that long and I still feel good about it."
  • "True" was a huge worldwide hit, going to #1 in 21 countries. Released on Spandau Ballet's third album, it's their only big hit in America, but one of many in their native UK and other parts of Europe. Their next single, "Gold," went to #2 in the UK and #29 in America.
  • The video for this song helped its chart fortunes considerably. Directed by Russell Mulcahy, it got lots of airtime on MTV, which was just two years old at the time.

    There was plenty of production value, but no real storyline in the video, which was intentional. Gary Kemp explained: "I didn't want to dictate what 'True' should be like. I'm sure when people hear that record they've got their own idea of what it means and what it looks like. So we just performed it, and lit it well – shooting light through water and broken glass – and it worked."
  • P.M. Dawn sampled this on their 1991 hit "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss." It was also sampled on Nelly's 2004 song "N Dey Say."
  • This was featured in several episodes of The Simpsons, including "Bart the Bad Guy" (2020), "Future-Drama" (2005), and "A Millhouse Divided" (1996). It was also used in these TV series:

    Single Parents ("A Radiant Cloak of Sexual Irresistibility" - 2019)
    Suits ("Bad Man" - 2018)
    Lucifer ("God Johnson" - 2017)
    The Flash ("Attack On Central City" - 2017)
    Family Guy ("Run, Chris, Run" - 2016)
    Master Of None ("Parents" - 2015)
    Modern Family ("Great Expectations" - 2009)
    Ugly Betty ("The Kids Are Alright" - 2008)
    Psych ("Psy Vs. Psy" - 2007)
    Cold Case ("Gleen" - 2003)
    Gilmore Girls ("Red Light On Wedding Night" - 2001)
    The Office ("Judgement" - 2001)
    Spin City ("Yeah Baby!" - 2001)

    And in these movies:

    The Edge Of Seventeen (2016)
    Little Boxes (2016)
    Sausage Party (2016)
    Pixels (2015)
    Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
    Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
    50 First Dates (2004)
    Charlie's Angels (2000)
    The Wedding Singer (1998)
    Sixteen Candles (1984)
  • Gary Kemp wrote of the song on his website: "I wanted to write a soul song a la Al Green or Marvin Gaye. I still remember sitting on my bed at my parents' house writing it on guitar and calling Martin (his brother and Spandau Ballet bass player) in to listen to it. It became a song about trying to write a love song to someone who didn't know your true thoughts, but how difficult it is to spell out your feelings without seeming too foolish."

    "We never realized the full potential of this song until we started to record it at Compass Point. On the ECD's home movie footage of Nassau you can see the moment where we're playing back the song, half finished, in the studio, and everybody, including the roadies, are singing along to it. It was at that moment that I knew we had something special."
  • The saxophone solo was by the band's Steve Norman. He told The Guardian: "The solo is actually a composite of two takes. I'd only been playing a year and was listening to Grover Washington Jr's 'Just The Two Of Us' with Bill Withers, over and over. The solo is a reply to that: at the key change things just lift off, giving the song a moment of elation."
  • This song is such a wedding staple that Bank Of America used it in a 2022 commercial that takes place at a wedding reception. In the spot, guests are on their phone using the banking app.

Comments: 35

  • Annabelle from MelbourneIt was also featured in the TV show "Spaced" in S1E2 (1999)
  • George from Vancouver, CanadaI'll give him credit; he wasn't in love with Clare Grogan on looks, that's for sure! Looking at her now, I figured maybe she just didnt age gracefully, but I checked her pics in '81 & '82. . .nah. . . Unrequited love sucks, but we got a heck of a beautiful song from his!
  • 786 from Manchester, EnglandA good song doesn’t cry out for commentary - this is one such gem!
  • Seventh Mist from 7th HeavenSome songs just lay it on a bit too thick and this is one of them.
  • Ruth from Dorset Kills my soul every time....and just read it ws about unrequited love and not wanting to declare yours for fear of being rejected. Could have been written for me. Timeless, beautiful classic.
  • Siahara Shyne Carter from United StatesThe first line ;-)
    and

    Chorus: I know this much is Truuuueeeeee This much is true This much truueee

    I still heated this on radio
  • Max from California This song rules!
  • Bob from MichiganIt's not documented, but it sure sounds to me that the chorus begins with "I-I-I-I'm high - I know this much is true". And the line about a "pill on my tongue" reinforces this idea. I could certainly be wrong and reading into it... but that's what it sounds like to me.
  • Don from Sevierville, TnI cannot stand this song!
  • George from Vancouver, CanadaDid Tears for Fears do this song, too?
  • John from Canon City, CoOne thing many people are missing out on is the cut in the end of the song. It's original length is 6:30. This is where some of the richest sounds are found. Throughout the song TRUE, Spandau Ballet used a PROPHET-5 synthesizer to flow along with many parts of the bass track, complimenting in a piano sound. The 5 polyphonic monochrome style synthesizer enabled waveless strings-straight as an arrow, the initial atmosphere synth melody and the unique piano/bass sounds.
  • Mark from Providence, Riand tell me who, who doesn't love a little power ballad, mixed with a little techno, mixed with a little rock and roll & TO top off the cherry on the cake of it all a freaking sax. Uuuuh! What a phenominal tune! The epitome of the 1980's! Bravo! ps: song is memorialized in the film 16 candles at the HS dance.
  • Shane from Los Angeles, CaOne of my all-time favorite songs with great depth. After thinking about this song for a long time, I believe the overall point of the song is this: The author/singer wants to tell the truth but he never does. He says "I know this much is true" but never finishes his sentence, and he never gets to the truth. It's irony at its best.
  • Jennifer from Brisbane, Australiaive heard this song play at many weddings, its a true love song and the words "seaside arms" come from the most magnificent novel
  • Camille from Toronto, OhWhat is it that makes this song a classic? The perfect blend of singer's voice, lyrics, melody, and that catch phrase "I know this much is true" sung various ways throughout the song. Fabulous saxophone, too, that seems to express, perhaps, in sound, those words the writer is searching for in vain. And, by the way, this is another one of those songs that women hear and think, yeah, I'd like the man of my dreams to be singing this to me.
  • Melissa from Windsor, CanadaTo me, the lyrics, "I bought a ticket to the world ... write the next line" mean "I was going to start over and I left so that you wouldn't destract me, but I couldn't leave because I realized I don't want this to be over: now the ball is in your court - I'm leaving the next move up to you."
    To me, this song as a whole is about actually WRITING a song (or story or novel) that is essentially a CONFESSION by the author about his love for someone. The song or story can be written FOR the loved one as a revelation of his feelings OR it could be written ABOUT the couple's relationship as a sort of tell-all. I think this because of the references to Nabakov's Lolita - this novel was a tell-all that the character writes while he is in prison about the unrequited love of an under-aged girl. Because of the references to Lolita, I think the song could be interpreted as being about unrequited love, and possibly also about loving someone it would be inappropriate to be with. I also think a kind of fall from grace could be implied, as the author of Lolita writes his story after being arrested. It could be about so many things or situations, and I think that's one of the reasons this song is so great!
  • Tony Cook from London, United Kingdomspendau was a prison, and r hess was there till hes death, nuff said, just a brill song and have to agree with paul of london, sends chills down my spine and reminds me of my saled days (if you will excuse the pun) back in the 80s when everything seemed so right.
  • Siobhan from Harrogate, United KingdomWhat are sea side arms??? wrap your seaside arms around me and write the next line!!!!???
  • Travis from Grandisland, FlAlso to add is that when Steve sing "True" in Wedding Singer(which is at the end of the movie) he improvises the line "Robbie and Jullli a aa a"

    Also I love this song a great 80's pop classic.
  • Travis from Grandisland, Fl"True" was also sung by Steve Buscemi in the movie Wedding Singer(1998) starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.

    And was done again in the film 50 First Dates(2004) which then was performed by Will I Am and Fergie, but the lyrics are changed for rapping in the Will I Am parts
  • Greg from Batavia, NyThis song was popular when my daughter was less than a year old. I used to dance her to sleep to it. She's getting married in a few weeks and she dosn't know it yet but this will be our father-daughter dance.
  • Fulu Thompho from Limpopo, South Africawhat is it that is true? somebody should provide an explanation. i wanna know what is "true" in this song. But anyway i love it.
  • Dale from Santa Fe, NmThe song seems to be Kemp drawing an analogy between his life and Marvin Gaye's.
  • Russ from Richmond, VaThis song was about taking acid and expanding your horizions. It's a beautiful song but not once does it reference anything regarding "love". Thrill in my head, pill on my tounge... Sound of my soul... Seaside arms... Bought my ticket to the world (LSD)... Hard to write the next line.. This much is true! This guy is writing based on a very deep LSD inspired evening.
  • Sui from Cebu City, OtherSeems like Drew Barrymore love the song True...it's in 50 First Dates and Charlie's Angels.
  • Neal from North, NjI know this much is... TrUUUuee! hahaha
  • Stu from Fife, ScotlandYou need to be careful which sources you trust on the net! Spandau prison was in the capital, Berlin. It was built in 1876 and so existed long before WWII. It was not an Auschwitz-like death camp with gas chambers. The prisoners who were hung at Spandau were the senior Nazis found guilty at the Nuremberg trials. They were sentenced to death on 1 October 1946 and hanged on 6 October 1946. Other senior Nazis, like Rudolf Hess, were imprisoned there, too.
  • Billy Rhythm from Rockland, MeLuke, what I find on the net is that the prisoners of Spandau were gassed, not hung. Google "spandau ballet nazi," and it's easy to find.
  • Luke from Manchester, EnglandWhere my last post IS true (pardon the pun), the band changed their name after seeing some Grafiti in Berlin after being called 'the Makers'
  • Luke from Manchester, EnglandyduR, Knoxville - Stop talking out of your arse son... When inmates of the Spandau prison were hung, the corpses moved on the rope, seeming to dance as the last breath escaped, this was known as the "Spandau Ballet"
  • Adam from Poplar Bluff, MoWill.i.am and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas did a reinterpretation of this song for the 50 First Dates Soundtrack that was decent.
  • Ydur from Knoxville, TnSpandau was a special prison built for Nazi war criminals at the end of the Nuremburg trials. A "Spandau Ballet" was a homosexual courtship/seduction between the inmates. In the end, it was solely occupied by Rudolph Hess.
  • Paul from London, EnglandThis is my Ultimate Chill-Out Summer Song of all-time and one of the few songs ever to send chills down my spine. I love this song and Tony Hadley's vocals really shine here.
  • Jammon from Jammon, EnglandHas Something to do with Marvin Gaye ('Listening to Marvin, all night long)
  • K from Leicester Uk, EnglandNelly, also used this song to sample in his song N Dey Say, which is his fifth single (in the UK off his double album SweatSuit.
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