On The 40th Anniversary Of His Album “No Brakes” John Waite Tells Us “Missing You” Is A Blues Song

Watch an in depth conversation with John Waite about the 40th anniversary of his album “No Brakes.” John was kind enough to really reveal a lot and to discuss influences that include Blues and Country.

June 15th, 1984, John Waite released his album “No Brakes.” This was John’s second solo outing. John said he felt fearless while making this album, partly because he was producing for the first time. He was also working with musicians he’d never worked with before, “It was all ad hoc as they say. We just made it up as we went along.” He described a situation where he was in New York City writing lyrics over breakfast for the song he’d be recording later in the day. At that point they were on a very tight budget.

John’s previous label was Chrysalis and Neil Giraldo had produced his first solo album for them, “Ignition.” It was a great record, but the label didn’t seem to agree. John felt frustrated after that experience. After that, he went home to England, got married, lived on the countryside, got himself off Chrysalis and got signed to EMI. “It was a huge step; it was like being reborn.” With EMI he was given a budget he could work with.

John spoke about working on the album in New York City which he described as being on fire at the time with so many clubs. He mentioned jamming with Pete Townshend of The Who and Steve Marriott of Humble Pie and more. John said that period in New York was transferred right into “No Brakes” through some of the songwriting partners he had. It seems a lot of people surrounding John at the time came from the Punk world. Although John said “Restless Heart” was a Country song he’d written while he was still in The Babys.

Of course, we had to speak about the album’s monster hit, “Missing You.” I had heard that John improvised the lyrics live while recording the vocal. When I asked him about that he told me “As we were recording it and as I was writing it. I mean that thing was, we finished the record. We had I think, eight songs or even seven songs. We hadn’t got enough. I knew it and the band knew it and the record company knew it. But we’d run out of money kind of thing. I went to work with this guy on Mount Olympus out in LA, a songwriter. And he had this eighth note feel track. We’d been writing the song the night before.” Working with some tape the guy hit play, John heard the instrumental track and asked, “What’s that?” He downplayed as just something he was working on. John said, “No, give me a shot.” John felt it was the kind of thing he would write. He had him put the instrumental in his headphones and he went in the other room and sang it all the way through. They thought it was great, but they hadn’t recorded it. At the time John had a couple of songs on his mind, “Wichita Lineman” and a song by the band Free, “Catch A Train.” John said “To kick myself off the abyss I used the I used ‘Every Time I Think Of You’ for the first line from The Babys hit. As soon as I sang that against the chord changes, I got the ‘I always catch my breath. And I’m still standing here, And you’re miles away, And I’m wondering why you left, And there’s a storm that’s raging, Through my frozen heart tonight, I ain’t missing you at all, since you’ve been gone.’ In one piece.” “It’s a Blues song.”

That led us into a conversation about influences with mentions of Jimmy Webb, Jon Anderson, Paul Rodgers, John Mayall and even Jimi Hendrix. Some of these influences go back to John’s teen years. He even mentioned some traditional Blues artists like Buka White, Elmore James and Robert Johnson. Yet Country influenced him as well, even as a kid.

No conversation about music from 1984 would be complete without a mention of MTV. So, we did speak about that and its effect on the music business at the time to wrap up our conversation.

You can see the rest of the videos in the “On Fire At 40″ series here.

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