Caroline

Album: Hello! (1973)
Charted: 5
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Caroline" is in the key of F and contains the three chords the band are famous for: I, IV and V. The song was originally a slow shuffle until Rick Parfitt sped up this guitar intro and turned the track into the fiery opener we know today. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Greg - Barking, England
  • The song was written by the band's frontman Francis Rossi along with Bob Young, who had various duties with Status Quo, including songwriting. The pair wrote the song two years before they finally recorded it, as the band had a backlog of songs at the time.

    They completed the lyrics on a table napkin in the dining room of a hotel in Perranporth, Cornwall. Young recalled to The Guardian April 2, 2013: "We stayed in a right grotty hotel because it was all we could afford and continued writing the song there – in the dining room on a rainy day, when we couldn't take the kids anywhere and everybody was miserable. The hotel manager wasn't impressed that there were two members of Status Quo staying at the hotel. He was even less impressed when I leant against the dining room window and fell through it. But I managed to finish the lyrics – on a napkin."
  • The Hello! album, and this song in particular, were a giant leap for the band, as they earned plaudits in the British music press for their material and for their invigorating live shows. In Melody Maker's review, they stated: "Status Quo have finally hit the big time with their raw and rorty brand of rock and roll."

    "Caroline" became the opener at their shows.
  • There are various Carolines around the world who think the song is about them, but the titular Caroline wasn't a real person. The name was in the musical landscape thanks to the Neil Diamond song "Sweet Caroline," which was a UK hit in 1971. In our interview with Francis Rossi, he said: "We'd heard that around, and it was quite a nice phrase. Bob [Young] did know a Caroline, which I mustn't talk about. But I suppose he was thinking that."
  • Rick Parfitt's guitar intro became a Quo signature. Rossi recalled to The Guardian: "He came up with the riff during a rehearsal, and I played against it. That always happens between us; it's like a conversation on guitars. We recorded it sitting in a semi-circle, doing take after take after take, thinking we'd get it right eventually. It wasn't about finesse – it was about capturing something."
  • Electronic group Apollo 440 used the song's intro riff as the main sample for their 1999 UK Top Ten single "Stop The Rock."
  • When Bob Young proposed the line, "Together we can rock & roll," Francis Rossi had an odious reaction, as it sounded very trite and cliché. He couldn't find a suitable alternative, however, so the phrase made it into the song.

Comments: 2

  • Lee from UkRick's chords in the verse are F7, Bb9/F, C9/G - not straight I, IV, V
  • Ken from Pittsburgh, PaGood song.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jon Anderson

Jon AndersonSongwriter Interviews

Jon Anderson breaks down the Yes classic "Seen All Good People" and talks about his 1000 Hands album, which features Chick Corea, Rick Derringer, Ian Anderson, and many other luminaries.

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: '80s Edition

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: '80s EditionMusic Quiz

You know the scenes - Tom Cruise in his own pants-off dance off, Molly Ringwald celebrating her birthday - but do you remember what song is playing?

Bob Dylan Lyric Quiz

Bob Dylan Lyric QuizMusic Quiz

Think you know your Bob Dylan lyrics? Take this quiz to find out.

Eric Clapton

Eric ClaptonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really write "Cocaine" while on cocaine? This question and more in the Clapton edition of Fact or Fiction.

Waiting For The Break of Day: Three Classic Songs About All-Nighters

Waiting For The Break of Day: Three Classic Songs About All-NightersSong Writing

These Three famous songs actually describe how they were written - late into the evening.

Stephen Christian of Anberlin

Stephen Christian of AnberlinSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist for Anberlin breaks down "Impossible" and covers some tracks from their 2012 album Vital.