A Criminal Mind

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"A Criminal Mind"
Single by Lawrence Gowan
from the album Strange Animal
Released15 January 1985 (1985-01-15)[1]
StudioStartling Studios
(Ascot, Berkshire, England)
GenreProgressive rock
Length4:38 (radio edit)
7:21 (album version)
Songwriter(s)Lawrence Gowan
Producer(s)David Tickle
Lawrence Gowan singles chronology
"Make It Alone"
"A Criminal Mind"
"(You're a) Strange Animal"

"A Criminal Mind" is a song by Scottish-born Canadian artist Lawrence Gowan. Released in January 1985 as the lead single from second studio album, Strange Animal, it reached number five in Canada. Gowan refers to it as one of his signature songs.[2]


In a 2015 interview with Huffington Post Canada, Gowan stated that his inspiration for the song was a Kingston Penitentiary prison cell exhibit at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) to represent the Canadian penal system.[3] The empty cell was attended by a single guard, with whom Gowan had a conversation after sitting in the cell alone for a while.[3] The discussion about recidivist inmates led to the creation of the song.[3]


In April 1999, Gowan received a call from a member of the band Styx, which was interested in inviting him to fill in for Dennis DeYoung,[4] who refused to perform for concerts.[2] He met the band at the house of Tommy Shaw, where they performed a few songs, the first of which was "A Criminal Mind".[2] The band suggested to make it "a Styx song".[2] After the band's acrimonious split with DeYoung,[5] Gowan was asked to become a permanent member.[4] He agreed, and they performed their first concert together in Branson, Missouri later in 1999.[2] The song appeared on the album Styx World: Live 2001.

As of 2019 "A Criminal Mind" is still on the band's tour set list and is played at most Canadian concerts.[6] This has led to increased awareness of Gowan's musical repertoire amongst Styx fans.[4] As a result, "A Criminal Mind" and other songs in his repertoire, including "Moonlight Desires", "All The Lovers in the World", "(You're a) Strange Animal", and "Guerrilla Soldier", received increased airplay on Boom FM, Q107, and other Toronto radio stations.[7] In 2014, Gowan received three "Classic Music Award" from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada for the songs "A Criminal Mind", "Dancing on My Own Ground" and "(You're A) Strange Animal"[8] each having achieved 100,000 radio airplays throughout Canada since their release.[9] Gowan has previously stated he became aware of the increased airplay because of the royalties cheques he receives.[7]

In 2018, "A Criminal Mind" was certified as a platinum single in Canada, surpassing a combined 80,000 physical 7", 12" single and digital downloaded units sold.[10] Gowan was presented with the plaque on stage during a concert at Caesars Windsor in Windsor.[10]

Music video[edit]

Upon completion of recording for the album, Gowan collaborated with videographer Rob Quartly to create a music video for the song.[11] They spent two months together, during which they created "a ground-breaking video" with a unique treatment according to Keith Sharp, as well as a music video for the song "(You're A) Strange Animal".[11]

In an interview with Nick Krewen of Music Express magazine, Gowan stated that "videos can be powerful but they are so misused" and that he was "really happy" with the result for this video.[11] Music critic John Griffin of The Gazette referred to as an "amazing video".[12] It won the Juno Award for Best Video at the 1985 Juno Awards.[13][14] Other nominees included the video for "(You're A) Strange Animal" from the same album, also produced by Quartly, and a third video produced by Quartly, for the song "Never Surrender" by Corey Hart.[15] That year, the song was nominated for the Juno Award for Single of the Year, which was won by Corey Hart for "Never Surrender".[16][17]

Don Oates, vice president of sales and marketing for Columbia Records, stated that the music video was pivotal in the song receiving airplay[18] in Canada. In an article in The Gazette, Martin Siberok stated that "the role of video" was key to the song appearing on record charts.[19] Kirk LaPointe of Billboard magazine stated that Gowan was the "clearest beneficiary" of the existence of MuchMusic (which had launched in September 1984) as the album Strange Animal achieved double platinum status and Gowan emerged as a "hit domestic artist".[18] In addition, Gowan appeared on a spot for the channel to emphasize that his song is about a criminal mind that needs understanding, while a criminal act is another matter entirely.[20] Despite his domestic success and the album's United States release in May 1985, the song received little airplay in the United States.[21]


Chart (1985) Peak
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[22] 14
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[23] 5


  1. ^ Reviews: Gowan's 'Strange Animal' Noisey
  2. ^ a b c d e Whitman 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Gowan 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Go 2012.
  5. ^ Fox 1999, p. S2.
  6. ^ "A Criminal Mind by Gowan Song Statistics | setlist.fm". www.setlist.fm. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b Barber 2012.
  8. ^ Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada 2014.
  9. ^ Stevenson 2014.
  10. ^ a b FYIMusicNews 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Sharp 2014, p. 146.
  12. ^ Griffin 1985.
  13. ^ Griffin 1985b.
  14. ^ LaPointe 1985, p. 74.
  15. ^ Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences: Best Video.
  16. ^ Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences: Single of the Year.
  17. ^ LaPointe 1985, p. 6.
  18. ^ a b LaPointe 1986, p. C-13.
  19. ^ Siberok 1986.
  20. ^ "GOWAN -- 80'S MUCHMUSIC PROMO". YouTube. MuchMusic. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  21. ^ Sharp 2014, p. 173.
  22. ^ "RPM Weekly Chart: Adult Contemporary (May 25, 1985)". RPM. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  23. ^ "RPM Weekly Chart: Top Singles (April 27, 1985)". RPM. Retrieved 20 June 2018.