A perfect love song of the 80's?
If getting covered over the years by artists of many genres is an indicator, then one would have to argue that REO's Speedwagon power ballad "Keep On Loving You" deserves a conversation. Penned by Kevin Cronin about staying in a relationship despite unfaithfulness, it was the first REO Speedwagon single to break the top 50 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, reaching the number-one spot for one week in March of 1981. It's got dark verses, yes. Those soaring choruses though, with all puns intended, keep the love. And oh how it has been loved...and covered. There have been renditions by Lisa Loeb & Dweezil Zappa, The Donnas, and as told by Kevin this week on the latest Totally 80's podcast episode you can add Keith Urban, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols and Dolly Parton to the list.
Sitting down with host Lyndsey Parker, Kevin Cronin joined singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb to discuss the "Best Love Songs of the 80's." On the topic of REO Speedwagon's own hit "Keep on Loving You," Cronin recounted how he and Lisa had performed it together during an REO Speedwagon tour stop in Dallas (she had been in town visiting). "Lisa's like 'I'm in town', you know how you doin? And I'm like... well that was really friendly... I called back and next thing you know..."
Lisa had previously performed a version of the song on a VH-1 show Hard Rock Live years prior with Dweezil Zappa in the late 90's.
She is not the only one.
The song's universal sound also appealed to Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols with whom Cronin performed with in L.A. at a club when he went to do Jones' radio show. Jones requested they play it and as Cronin told Parker "… he was taking a shower and got this idea about "Keep On Loving You, grabbed a guitar, and instead of getting out of the shower and picking up a guitar, Steve Jones decided to stay in the shower and bring the guitar in the shower with him and work out this guitar part...which he subsequently taught me, because I wrote the song on piano and had never been able to figure out how to play it on guitar.”
A couple of country artist superstars also had the song on their minds it seems.
As Cronin tells it, he found out Keith Urban had sang the track during his tour encore via a YouTube video link his son sent him, "this entire arena of Keith Urban fans sing the chorus and I'm sitting there [watching it] and it's mind-blowing."
If that wasn't enough "Keep on Loving You" cover love, on the podcast Cronin also revealed that he had just recorded the song as a duet with Dolly Parton for her upcoming rock record. “I get a call from Dolly, literally the other day,” Cronin said. “Because she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and at first she didn't want to go in because she didn't feel like it was proper, but then she got the idea of ‘OK, I'll be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but I gotta make a rock ‘n’ roll record.' ...and she's contacting a number of Rock and Roll artists to participate in this record with her she decides she wants to cover ‘Keep on Loving You."
Well, all we can say is if the performance of her at the Induction Ceremony is anything to go by, this upcoming rock duet is going to be undoubtably amazing.
You can listen to more tales of "Keep on Loving You," extra details about this Dolly duet, more 80's love song suggestions, collaborations, songwriting and more on the latest Totally 80's podcast - out now. For other love songs of the 1980's to listen to here's some recommends.