Holding Back the Years

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"Holding Back the Years"
Single by Simply Red
from the album Picture Book
B-side "Drowning in My Own Tears" / "I Won't Feel Bad"
Released 1985
Genre Pop rock, blue-eyed soul
Length 4:07
Label WEA
Writer(s) Mick Hucknall, Neil Moss
Simply Red singles chronology
"Come to My Aid"
"Holding Back the Years"
Picture Book track listing
"Money's Too Tight to Mention"
"Holding Back the Years"
"(Open Up) The Red Box"

"Holding Back the Years" is the 7th track of Simply Red's debut studio album Picture Book (1985). It remains their most successful single, having reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the UK Singles Chart. It is one of two Simply Red songs (the other being their cover of "If You Don't Know Me by Now") to reach #1 in the US. "Holding Back the Years" had initially been released in the UK the year before, reaching #51.


Frontman of the group, Mick Hucknall, wrote the song when he was 17, while living at his father's house. The chorus did not come to him until many years later.[1] His mother left the family when he was three; the upheaval caused by this event inspired him to write the song.[2] The music was co-written with Neil Moss, a member of Hucknall's first group, the Frantic Elevators.[3]

He recorded a chorus-less version of the song with the Frantic Elevators in 1982, but the real success came when the Simply Red version was released in 1985. In 2005, a brand-new stripped down acoustic version of the song was released on the album Simplified.[citation needed]

Music video[edit]

The graveyard in which the video was shot

The video for the song was directed by Tony van den Ende and filmed in the English coastal town of Whitby and the famous scene where Hucknall watches the coastal view from his window can be seen on the cover of the single, in its music video and, for a brief time, in the music video of "If You Don't Know Me by Now". Keyboardist Fritz McIntyre plays the role of a one-man-band and the other band members play the role of the local cricket team who see Hucknall off on his journey.


  1. ^ Holden, Stephen (11 March 1987). "Simply Red's 2D Album Blends Funk with Ballads". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2008. 
  2. ^ Davies, Hugh (19 June 2001). "Simply Red star cleared after arrest for rape". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 11 October 2008. 
  3. ^ "Holding Back The Years". simplyred.com. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" by Billy Ocean
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
12 July 1986
Succeeded by
"Invisible Touch" by Genesis