Whitesnake leader David Coverdale wrote the lyric in Portugal. While it's typically thought of as an inspiring song about facing your challenges head-on, it's really a song about heartbreak and the loneliness that comes with it. The song documents the breakdown of Coverdale's first marriage to Julia Borkowski, with whom he tied the knot in 1974.
In 1987, "Here I Go Again" was a #1 hit in America, all over the airwaves and MTV, but the song was written in 1981 and first released in 1982 when Whitesnake was a very different band.
David Coverdale wrote it with their guitarist, Bernie Marsden, after the group toured their native UK. They released it on their Saints 'N' Sinners album and issued it as a single in the UK, where it went to #34. By 1987, the band had a different lineup, with Coverdale the only constant. They re-recorded "Here I Go Again" and included it on their 1987 self-titled album. That summer, it was released as a single in America for the first time and rose to #1 in October, thanks in no small part to the music video. In the UK the re-release, labeled the "US Mix," went to #9.
David Coverdale formed Whitesnake after leaving Deep Purple. He was well known in the UK, so Whitesnake had a built-in fanbase there, but cracking America was a lot harder. They made inroads in the US with their 1984 album Slide It In, but it was the Whitesnake album in 1987 that took off. When they toured America to support it, they did so as opening act for Mötley Crüe.
The original 1982 version runs 5:08, building slowly as Coverdale sings over a gospel organ played by Jon Lord, his bandmate in Deep Purple. The drums don't come in until 1:20.
The 1987 album version runs 4:35 with a more assertive keyboard intro by Don Airey. It's still a slow build, with drums entering at 1:15. This is the one used in the video.
Whitesnake's label, Geffen, ordered a new, super-radio-friendly version of the song for the single, so Coverdale went back in the studio with Airey and a set of studio musicians and made another recording. This one runs 3:52 and gets right to the action, with the drums and guitar coming in right away. Coverdale's vocal doesn't come in for 22 seconds, plenty of time for DJs to talk it up.
In the original 1982 version, the line is, "Like a hobo I was born to walk alone," which was changed in 1987 to, "Like a drifter I was born to walk alone." Clearly a better word choice.
The video features very quick shots of the actress Tawny Kitaen dancing seductively on the hoods of two Jaguars (cars, not cats). One belonged to Coverdale, the other to Marty Callner, who directed the video. It was a huge hit on MTV, and one of the first "tease" videos. Especially among hair bands, it became popular to show flashes of beautiful women throughout the video to keep the viewers (young boys) interested.
Kitaen, who was in the 1984 movie Bachelor Party
, also appeared in the Whitesnake videos for "Still Of The Night," "Is This Love?
," and "The Deeper The Love" (thankfully, there was no video for "Slide It In
"). She and Coverdale were married in 1989 and divorced in 1991.
The 1987 radio version was produced by Keith Olsen, known for his work on Fleetwood Mac's 1975 self-titled album. Olsen produced the 1983 Heart album Passionworks
, and brought in their rhythm section - drummer Denny Carmassi and bass player Mark Andes - for the session, along with guitarist Dann Huff. Speaking on the Songfacts Podcast
, Andes said the musicians were feeding off the energy from Coverdale's vocal. "David Coverdale, who had a cold or something, was such a pro and really
sang the song," he said. "That translates into the vibe of the musicians playing the song."
"Here I Go Again" was a popular song title in the '60s and '70s. The Raeletts, The Miracles, Country Joe & The Fish, Archie Bell & The Drells, and The Hollies all released different songs with that title that charted in America.
This song entered the news in 2002 under some strange circumstances. Tawny Kitaen married the baseball player Chuck Finley in 1997. In April 2002, she was arrested for spousal abuse after kicking him with her high-heeled shoes while he was driving. Finley filed for divorce soon after.
Soon after Kitaen was arrested, the DJ for the Chicago White Sox was fired for playing this song to the stadium while Finley was warning up for his team, the Cleveland Indians.
The 2004 Bowling For Soup hit "1985
" is about a housewife who pines for her youthful adventures in the '80s, when among other things, she dreamed about "shaking her ass on the hood of Whitesnake's car." The video stars Tawny Kitaen, now living a sensible, stable life, but still dreaming about dancing on the car.
As portrayed in the 2010 movie The Fighter, this was the theme song for the boxer Micky Ward, who used it for inspiration during training and before fights. Coverdale recalled on the VH1 Classic program That Metal Show that he read the script for The Fighter before he gave permission for the song to be used in the movie. "I didn't know how good it was going to be," he said. "But to see Christian Bale, 'Batman' singing your tune, are you kidding! It was amazing, very uplifting and inspiring. I thought the movie was great."
This was featured on The Office in the season 2 episode "E-Mail Surveillance." Phyllis sings it during karaoke at Jim's party.
It was also used in these TV shows:
Family Guy ("Brian's A Bad Father" - 2014)
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia ("Mac's Banging The Waitress" - 2008)
How I Met Your Mother ("Bachelor Party" - 2007)
American Dad! ("Dungeons and Wagons (2006)
Still Standing ("Still Changing" - 2003)
And in these movies:
Man Up (2015)
Rock Of Ages (2012)
Old School (2003)
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
The song was used by retail giant Walmart in an August 2016 "Back To School" commercial
. It also features in a 2019 Geico commercial
where a groom uses the lyrics as his wedding vows, and in a 2021 spot for T-Mobile where a dad embarrasses his son by uploading a video of him lip-synching it with the kid's mom.
In the 2019 "Glory Of Love" episode of the Netflix series Cobra Kai, which uses lots of '80s music, "Here I Go Again" soundtracks a dream sequence where Johnny Lawrence (the guy who got kicked in the face at the end of Karate Kid) is having a tryst with his neighbor. The sequence pulls together an editing toolkit from the '80s, with soft-focus shots of his love interest seducing him with slow motion hair flips.