Top 40 single reviews

Simply Red

Holding Back The Years

Album: Picture Book

Year: 1985

            Mick Hucknall realizes there is so much he could’ve done if he hadn’t been for his fear in the regretful  “Holding Back The Years.”

                    Remorseful synths open the single, setting a desolate tone. Next month, he’ll ask the woman he likes. Next year, he’ll backpack through Europe. However, the girl he liked is now engaged and arthitis has made it unlikely for him to walk. His father told him to finish college and then find a full-time job. His mother basically agreed his father. He had no moral support and offered little direction aside from the norm. (“Holding back the years/Thinking of the fear I've had so long/When somebody hears/Listen to the fear that's gone/Strangled by the wishes of pater/Hoping for the arms of mater/Get to neither sooner or later.”)

                    In the chorus, now is the time to make a change. Without experiencing many new things, he still the same twentysomething he was when he first started. (“Holding back the years/Chance for me to escape from all I know/Holding back the tears/'Cause nothing here has grown.”)

             He adds he spent his time being upset about things that didn’t matter: work, getting stuff done around the house. It’s always going to be there. He worried and got frustrated. He made his life miserable. (“I've wasted all my tears/Wasted all those years/Nothing had the chance to be good/Nothing ever could, yeah.”)

                In the bridge, he’s going to try to change things. He can’t keep going on living a stagnant life. (“I'll keep holding on/I'll keep holding on/I'll keep holding on/I'll keep holding on/So tired.”)

                     The second verse is sung again.

                     The bridge is sung again.

                     In the final section, in the little he has left to do what he wants. (“Holdin', holdin', holdin', yeah/That's all I have today/It's all I have to say.”)

                        Hucknall wishes he could go back. He wouldn’t done so much differently. Maybe he would’ve taken a year off before heading to college. He could’ve traveled then. What did he do? He can't answer those questions. There is no tidy solution which he recongnizes.

                         The  somber  “Holding Back The Years” knows it’s too late.


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