This tender pop ballad was Warrant's biggest hit. Their frontman Jani Lane was also their primary songwriter, and in this track, he sings about how heaven is right here on Earth as long as he's with the girl he loves.
This one is definitely for the ladies, as Lane makes it clear he is devoted to this special girl ("I'm never giving up on you") and he doesn't care what everyone else thinks about it ("No matter what your friends might say").
Along with "Down Boys" and "Sad Theresa," this is one of the songs Jani Lane and drummer Steven Sweet played in their band Plain Jane. In 1986, two days after that band broke up, Lane and Sweet auditioned for Warrant, who had been around a few years but were in need of a new drummer and lead singer.
They got the gig and "Heaven" became part of their repertoire. The song got a great reaction when they played it live around their home base of Los Angeles, which helped earn them a record deal with Columbia. When it came time to record their debut album, however, their assigned producer Beau Hill detested the song and fought with the band over including it on the album.
The band won out, but when Columbia didn't like Hill's mix of "Heaven," so they sent it to another producer, John Jansen, to work on, and his mix made the album (the band had no say in the matter).
The album was issued in January 1989 with "Down Boys" released as the first single. It became clear that "Heaven" had hit potential, but Columbia still wasn't thrilled with the mix. Beau Hill took another crack at it, this time remixing the song with a bigger, showier sound. This version of "Heaven" was issued as the next single, and it became a Gold record.
Warrant took a lot of stick for this song from folks who felt it was too limp for a rock band. Much of the criticism came from other West Coast bands that seemed to resent their success. Jani Lane explained in a 1982 interview with BAM: "It sucks that I get labeled as a ballad writer, but I figure, if I write good ballads, then screw it, I write good ballads. I've never been one of those people that think if it's not X amount heavy, that it's not cool. The people who disrespect me because I don't apologize for writing a ballad now and then, I just can't relate to that. Seriously, if anyone ever walked up to me and said 'The Long and Winding Road' is a wimp song. I'd probably hit 'em! I like both extremes – the heavy metal and the ballads. A good song is a good song."
The video was directed by Nick Morris, whose credits include Mr. Mister's "Kyrie
" and Europe's "The Final Countdown
." In our interview with Morris
, he explained: "That was funny because they were so wild and so rock and roll, and then when we did the video, the image they wanted was sort of soft, soft babies. We shot that in a sound stage in New York that was quite small, and we couldn't actually fit the whole band in without a pillar in the middle. So you never see a wide shot of the show because we had to keep on trying to give the impression it was big."
In a move likely to trigger the gag reflex of anyone with a soul, a 2011 TV commercial used this song... to advertise the lottery. Because Heaven is all about gambling for money, right?
You'll never guess what band was holding "Heaven" back from making it to #1... that would be one Milli Vanilli, who was clinging to the top spot throughout 1989 with hits like "Blame It On The Rain