Winwood did very well in the '60s and '70s with his bands The Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and Traffic, but he was struggling to find success as a solo artist. He teamed up with lyricist Will Jennings, who had written songs for Barry Manilow, B.B. King, Joe Cocker and The Crusaders, and the pair wrote most of the songs for Arc Of A Diver. Jennings told us: "'While you see a chance take it, find romance, fake it, because it's all on you'" - the lyric of the song is about realizing that you are all alone in this life and you have to do with it what you can - it was written around 1980 in a certain part of my life when I realized it was all on me to do, the lyric inspired by Steve's transcendent track."
Jennings is renowned for his ability to write meaningful lyrics for talented musicians. He and Winwood spent a lot of time together, not just working, but hanging out and getting to know each other. Says Jennings, "It's like writing... if you're writing a play, you're writing for a particular persona, a particular character, and you try to feel as deeply inside them as you can - where are they coming from and what they've been through. It's the same with Steve, 'While You See A Chance,' because he was coming out of a whole period with Spencer Davis and Traffic, and then where else do you go? I was up there at his place in rural England, and I was in his life so to speak, and trying to see through his eyes as well as mine. And that's what all those things were about, all the songs we wrote."
Jennings explains the line, "While you see a chance take it, find romance, fake it": "Well the next line explains it: 'Because it's all on you.' There's an old English expression called "Fake it till you make it." If you don't have romance in your life, meaning in the broader sense, really, something to make life interesting, just imagine it until it's there." (Check out our interview with Will Jennings.)
This became Winwood's first Top 40 hit as a solo artist. In 1986 he hit #1 in the US with "Higher Love," which also had lyrics written by Jennings.
During production, Winwood accidentally erased the drum track from part of the song as he prepared to record a vocal. After months of trying to patch up the damage, he left the drums off the erased part and restructured the song.
Jules from OregonHis music has always been so uplifting to me. A true legend. Saw him a few years ago front and center, still fantastic.
Denise from Pembroke Pines, FlThe album 'Arc of A Diver' is great all around. While 'While You See a Chance' was the hit, I prefer some of the other songs: Spanish Dancer, Night Train, and Dust are all great songs. And the title track "Arc of A Diver' always puts me in a good grooving mood.
Camille from Toronto, OhThis is one of those songs that I was absolutely crazy about when it was popular, but now, many years later, it really doesn't do anything for me.
Myla from San Diego, CaBesides the inspirational lyrics, I love the awesome keyboard playing! You can hear the gospel church inspired organ playing as well as the 8o's synthesizer. Awesome combination.
Jarrod from Brisbane, AustraliaWhat an fantastic song!I heard or read somewhere that this song was released on the last day of 1980, and therefore on sheet music receives a copyright year of both 1980'and 81'. Is this correct, would love to hear from anyone who may know this. Jarrod, Brisbane Australia
Brad from Dallas Area, TxThis line, "while you see a chance, take it" was in the lyrics of a later song, Hearts On Fire from the album Roll With It. In it, the singer was out with the boys and feeling like he was somebody in the world, sees this lady at the bar, asks if he can sit with her, and she says "baby while you see a chance, you better take it." She deflates he ego with "you ain't nobody till somebody loves you" (not a bad piece of advice), but they end up talking all night and falling in love. I remember seeing a magazine or online interview with Steve where I believe he said this was a true event, describing it as how he met his (second?) wife. Whether she coined the phrase "while you see a chance, take it," or she was just proving she knew his songs, I don't know.
Wayne from Salem, VaI bought this album when it was first released. I went to the record store at our local shopping mall.When I got back inside my car I opened the album to check it.Well the labels said "Bob Marley And The Wailers-Uprising".I thought "What the... Somebody must have goofed at the record plant. So I took the album back inside. I showed it to the clerk. He put it on the turntable. And sure enough it was the "Arc Of A Diver" LP. Turns out that Bob Marley/Wailers were also on Island Records (Chris Blackwell-founder) just as Steve Winwood was. I do like this song. But I like the title song more so. And another one from that album "Sundown (Come Down)" or something like that. It is a very good song.Hearing "While You See A Chance" takes me back. As alot of older songs do to alot of us. I was 20 yr.s old,living on my own. That was a good year for me-1980. And I am a fan of Steve Winwood. From Spencer Davis,Traffic,Blind Faith,back to Traffic and his Solo career. I love his voice and musicianship and his song writing.A truly gifted artist all the way around.
Art from Valencia, CaHas anyone noticed that in the video of this and some of the recordings that "When there's no one left to leave you, Even you don't quite believe you That's when nothing can deceive you..." is cut out of it? I guess they tried to shorten it, but its a really bad dubbing...
Ron from Tyler, TxThe music on this song always inspired me so. I played this on my Walkman as I walked into the bar exam - trying to get my spirit in the right place. Well . . . I passed.
Nathan from Insomeplace, KyJennings did not contribute to the lyrics as much as people think the album info on my copy of arc of a diver says the composer was Steve Winwood and most of the time the lyricists name is in the composer tab so Jennings must have contributed parts of the lyrics or parts of the music so Winwood wrote most of this one.
Jujee from Marquette, MiI love his optimism and positivity in his songs...his work has lifted me up many times over.
Mark from Los Angeles, CaWritten by Wilbur (Will) Jennings. Will Jennings has written lyrics for many hit songs. Including: "My Heart Will Go On" performed by CÃ?line Dion. "Up Where We Belong" performed by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes."I'll Never Love This Way Again" by Dione Warwick.
Geno from Peoria, IlAHEM... My Favorite song. I liked the entire album and Arc of a Diver is right up there.
Jon Bates from Birmingham, EnglandWinwood recorded it in his own studio in Gloucestershire UK. He played virtually all the instruments. The mastering engineer had to crank a whole lot of bass onto the final tape as it was bass light, probably due to Winwoods studio monitors being bass heavy.