Holding Back the Years

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"Holding Back the Years"
Holding Back the Years by Simply Red UK 7-inch single.jpg
1985 UK 7-inch vinyl single
Single by Simply Red
from the album Picture Book
  • "Drowning in My Own Tears"
  • "I Won't Feel Bad"
Released 1985
Length 4:07
Producer(s) Stewart Levine
Simply Red singles chronology
"Come to My Aid"
"Holding Back the Years"
"Come to My Aid"
"Holding Back the Years"

(1986) Jericho1986

"Holding Back the Years"
(1986) Holding Back the Years1986

"Open Up the Red Box"
(1986) Open Up the Red Box1986
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 seventh track on Simply Red's debut studio album Picture Book (1985). It remains their most successful single, having reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number two 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 number one in the US. It also reached number four on the Adult Contemporary chart. "Holding Back the Years" had initially been released in the UK the year before, reaching number 51. The song was nominated in the category of Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals at the 29th Annual Grammy Awards.


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]

Music video[edit]

The music video focuses on Mick Hucknall, who, while singing the song, walks through the English countryside and Whitby Abbey carrying luggage and thinking about his childhood memories and the difficult relationship he had with his mother. In the last part of the song he is seen riding a train.[4]


Chart (1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[5] 16
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[6] 22
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[7] 8
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[8] 6
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[9] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[10] 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[11] 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[12] 5
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[13] 40
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[14] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[15] 1
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[16] 4
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[17] 29
US Smooth Jazz Songs (Billboard)[18] 13


  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. 
  4. ^ Simply Red (26 April 2009). "Simply Red - Holding Back The Years". YouTube. Retrieved 25 January 2018. 
  5. ^ "AUSTRALIAN (ARIA/DAVID KENT) WEEKLY SINGLE CHRTS FROM 1986". Retrieved 4 April 2018. 
  6. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Simply Red – Holding Back the Years" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Ultratop.be – Simply Red – Holding Back the Years" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0689." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 0699." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  10. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Holding Back the Years". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 4, 1986" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Simply Red – Holding Back the Years" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Simply Red – Holding Back the Years". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Simply Red Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Simply Red Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Simply Red Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Simply Red Chart History (Smooth Jazz Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 4 April 2018.

External links[edit]