Strength

Album: Strength (1985)
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Songfacts®:

  • In this song, Alarm lead singer Mike Peters is looking for someone to give him love, hope, strength, and someone to live for. "It's really about depending on someone else to help you be alive, be happy, find love," he said in a Songfacts interview. "We can't find all those things as individuals, we have to find them in pairs or through togetherness or community."
  • Early on, The Alarm released a lot of songs that deal with a sense of community and a push toward our better selves. "Strength," which is the title track to their second album, is a great example. These songs played well live, bringing the crowd together in spirit, but they had trouble earning airplay. In the US, MTV gave the video for "Strength" some spins, but it only reached #61 on the Hot 100, which was the highest The Alarm ever got. They never had a big breakthrough in their native UK either, where the song topped out at #40.
  • In his 2020 Songfacts interview, Mike Peters explained how the song came together. "'Strength' arrived to me in the middle of the night," he said. "It was a bit of a dream song. I woke up in a hotel room after we played a gig in Newcastle, and I had the melody of the chorus and the words in my head. I was rooming with a friend who now works for Bob Dylan [John "Redeye" Edwards]. I woke him up in the middle of the night and said, 'Hey, we've got to get my guitar out of the band van and bring it up here, because I've got a song.'

    The song was formed in my imagination and I just had to find the chords on my guitar. That was the only thing that was lacking – I didn't know what the chords were. We played it at soundcheck the next day and it was all there."
  • Most Alarm songs were written by bass player Eddie Macdonald and lead singer Mike Peters, but this one is a full band composition, with guitarist Dave Sharp and drummer Nigel Twist also earning songwriting credits.
  • After Mike Peters was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-'90s, this song took on new meaning for him, particularly the line, "Who will be the life blood coursing through my veins?"

    "I didn't realize how prophetic that was going to be for my own life as a leukemia survivor now who one day might have to have a transplant and have a donor to give me their life's blood to stay alive," he told Songfacts. "I didn't really know what I was singing when I wrote those words, but they stayed in the song and they were just straight out of the imagination."

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