Magnet And Steel

Album: Not Shy (1978)
Charted: 8


  • Stevie Nicks sang on this track, and provided inspiration for the lyrics. Walter Egan told Songfacts the story behind the song:

    "In 1976 I was living in Pomona, California, and I had a notion to write a song with the 'stroll' beat (made famous by Chuck Willis) and so began the rough outline of what was tentatively called 'Don't Turn Away Now.' Now, this was also at the time of putting together my first album, Fundamental Roll, and my two new friends and producers, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks and I, were starting the recording process.

    On the night when Stevie did the background vocals for my song 'Tunnel o' Love,' my nascent amorous feelings toward her came into a sharper focus - I was smitten by the kitten, as they say. It was on my drive home at 3 a.m. from Van Nuys to Pomona that I happened to be behind a metal-flake-blue Continental with ground effects and a diamond window in back. I was inspired by the car's license plate: 'Not Shy.'

    By the time I pulled into my driveway I had formulated the lyrics and come up with the magnet metaphor. From there the song was finished in 15 minutes.

    It was especially satisfying to have Stevie sing on 'Magnet,' since it was about her (and me)."
  • This was used in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights.
  • This was Egan's only Top 40 chart entry for his own recordings, though he also wrote Night's first hit, "Hot Summer Nights," which reached #18.

Comments: 18

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 1st 1978, the Texxas* World Music Festival, aka The Texxas Jam, took place at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas...
    One of the twelve acts to appear was Walter Egan; at the time his "Magnet and Steel" was at #39 on Billboard's Top 100 chart; a little over seven weeks later on August 20th, 1978 it would peak at #8 {See next post below}...
    It reached #13 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Besides "Magnet and Steel" and "Hot Summer Night"; he had one other Top 100 record, "Only the Lucky" {#82 in 1977}...
    * That's the correct way it was spelled, Texxas, and the festival had a eleven year life span {1978 – 1988}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 10th 1978, Walter Egan performed "Magnet and Steel" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Three weeks earlier on May 21st, 1978 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #87; and on August 20th it peaked at #8 (for 1 week) and spent 22 weeks on the Top 100...
    As already stated he wrote Night's "Hot Summer Nights", which peaked at #18 (for 2 weeks) on August 26th, 1979; and a year earlier in 1978 he charted with his own original version of the song, it reached #55 on the Top 100...
    Mr. Egan will celebrate his 66th birthday next month on July 12th, 2014.
  • Brent from Denair, CaGreat song. Walter was kind of creepy-looking in this video. Kind of reminds me of "Scorpio" from the original "Dirty Harry" movie. Anyway, pretty cool Nicks and Buck helped this guy with the record. This was just after Rumors, so Fleetwood Mac was huge at the time. Great memories of this song back to the high school days.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxWhen I hear about toy pianos, I think of Seals & Crofts' 'Summer Breeze,' which uses it throughout.
  • Karen from Manchester, NhRe: toy piano: the song "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle, which charted on three different Billboard charts, had a toy piano throughout.
  • Shawn from Mckeesport, Pa11/21/11 -- Another song that had a toy piano in it was Summer Breeze by Seals and Croft. Also, besides Nicks a woman by the name of Ann McLoone sang backups on this song. If you go to youtube and watch the video (from a TV program, it has a jukebox in it) the woman singing backup is Ann McLoone. She is also known as Fast Annie.
  • Jim from Franklin, TnHeard Walter Egan sing this song at a church benefit concert last night (11/19/11). Great performance and a wonderful person! Thanks for taking me back to the 70's Walter!
  • Jfv from Philadelphia, PaRegarding the comment about the toy piano, I offer this. On the song Teo Torriate (Let Us Cling Together) from Queen's 1976 A Day At The Races album, Brian May plays a plastic piano. The song was released as a single only in Japan, given it's partial lyrics sung in Japanese..
  • Ed from Rockwood, TnIf you really listen to the song, I swear you hear all three Fleetwood Mac vocalists in it, especially in the harmony...Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and even Christy McVie at times...I'm not sure yet on that though, it could still be just Lindsey and Stevie. Ann Powders, I have a double CD set in mp3 format called Soft Rock Gold from various artists dated 2006 with 30 tracks that if you like Magnet and Steel you should really enjoy the set. I found it on my search engine. Now, I only heard of one version, the one they played on the radio, and it is on this set. I also though have all the songs on separate vinyl.
  • Paul from Kennewick, WaI'm with ya Chet-this is one of those that we never tire of. Egan also did his own version of Hot Summer Nights,on the same album,which also should have succeeded to the charts. I got my first driver's licence just before it was released, so you can well imagine the kind of summer memories these two bring out .
  • Mike from Buffalo, NySometimes I really miss those 70's. It was a great rock era. Today we are left with the fond memories.

    Oh yeah-hell yeah!
  • Mike from Buffalo, Nylove this song!
  • Rick from Brainerd, MnI think that Stevie Nicks sings bacground, not as a duet (For Ann Powders)
  • Glen from Chico, CaNotice the TOY PIANO in the chorus. I don't know of any other Top 40 song that used an actual children's toy piano as part of the music.
  • Joshua from La Crosse, WiDouble entendre alert: "I am steel" can be interpreted as a metaphor for having an erection. (See also "Steely Dan", the fictitious dildo for which Donald Fagen and Walter Becker named their group.) No wonder they used this song in Boogie Nights!
  • Kevin from Reading , PaThis was a good song for 1978, when disco was in full force and dominating Top 40 radio. Electric guitars and a nice rock feel to it. Too bad the guy never followed it up with anything that got airplay.
  • Ann Powders from Fort Worth, TxI have downloaded this song from iTunes, but it isn't the version with Stevie Nicks. Can someone help me figure out what album that version is on? Thanks! Ann
  • Chet from Buffalo, NyThat song was all over Buffalo radio all summer long in 1978. Never grew tired of it!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Cy Curnin of The Fixx

Cy Curnin of The FixxSongwriter Interviews

The man who brought us "Red Skies" and "Saved By Zero" is now an organic farmer in France.

Little Richard

Little RichardFact or Fiction

Was Long Tall Sally a cross-dresser? Did he really set his piano on fire? See if you know the real stories about one of rock's greatest innovators.

Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)

Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)Songwriter Interviews

Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai were two of Graham's co-writers for some '80s rock classics.

Country Song Titles

Country Song TitlesFact or Fiction

Country songs with titles so bizarre they can't possibly be real... or can they?

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular Music

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.

Gilby Clarke

Gilby ClarkeSongwriter Interviews

The Guns N' Roses rhythm guitarist in the early '90s, Gilby talks about the band's implosion and the side projects it spawned.