Holding Back The Years – Simply Red | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1) and Adult Contemporary (#4) ; 1986

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

In October of 1982, a punk outfit from Manchester, England released its fourth indie single in as many years. It, like the others, sank without a trace. The Frantic Elevators soon sank as well; leaving leader Mick Hucknall band-less. Mick soon hooked up with some other musicians in a new outfit.

He wanted to name the band “Red” after his flame-colored hair, however, when he heard his manager responding to inquiries as to the group’s name with “Simply, ‘red,'” Mick adopted that phrase instead. Simply Red released their first single – a cover of the Valentine Brothers’ 1982 R&B record, Money’s Too Tight (To Mention) – in mid-1985.

Not only did Money register a #13 peak on Britain’s pop chart, it reached #2 on the American Hot Dance list. After follow-up Come To My Aid stalled at #66 in the UK, Simply Red released a rerecorded rendition of the Elevator’s last single: Holding Back The Years. Although it did poorly in England, Years raced to #1 Stateside; prompting a re-issue back home where it hit #2.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Stewart Levine

Lyrics Written by:

  • Mick Hucknall
  • Neil Moss


  • Nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 29th Annual Grammy Awards in 1987