About The Song

It took 10 years for Kevin Cronin to complete the song that became one of REO Speedwagon’s most definitive power ballads. When he finally delivered it, he hated the title, but he couldn’t fight it anymore. The roots of “Can’t Fight This Feeling” went back, like many of Cronin’s songs, to an old relationship. On the surface, the song is about a guy who’s finally admitting he’s in love with someone he’s known for a long time; more directly, the singer and songwriter later explained, it was “about my inability to have the courage to express myself.”

“It’s a little bit of an amalgamation,” Cronin told in an interview. “A song usually is sparked by something that I have an emotional response to. But there is actually more than one person that that song was inspired by. … I was brought up in an Irish-Catholic family, and you were taught to always keep a bright face, always act like everything was okay, even if maybe everything on the inside wasn’t so okay. So that’s something I’ve struggled with and, over the years, have gotten better at.”

Cronin settled down to complete the track in 1984, while the members of REO Speedwagon were taking time off from what had become a challenging schedule. He was in Hawaii when he turned his attention once again to a piece he was calling “My Guiding Light.”

“When I wrote the verses for that song, I felt like I’d captured lightning in a bottle,” he explained later. “It was just a very emotional night for me when I wrote ‘em. But I never wrote a chorus. One day I was set to co-write the chorus with Eric Carmen from the Raspberries, and I work up that morning and I was deathly sick. I called Eric, and I’m like, ‘Dude, I can’t do it today.’ But I was laying there in bed, and I was thinking, ‘You know, I really don’t wanna co-write this song. This song is so special for me, I gotta figure this out.’”

Cronin remembered being in bed, unable to fight the feeling of being ill, and asking himself what he was missing in the lyrics. He told himself, “The opening line of the song is, ‘I can’t fight this feeling any longer’ – I was like, ‘That’s what the song’s about. It’s about having a feeling and fighting it for so long until you finally have to surrender.‘ I gotta throw this out there. I might get shot down, I might not.’”

The next thing he couldn’t fight anymore was the track’s name. “I’m like, ‘All right, I guess the title of the song is “I Can’t Fight This Feeling.” … That’s a terrible song title! I can’t believe I’m going to [name] this song I’m so proud of with this shitty song title!’ Well, I got to!”

The cut appeared on REO Speedwagon’s 11th album, Wheels Are Turnin’, in November 1984. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” was its second single, released on Jan. 23, 1985; it held the No. 1 position for three consecutive weeks in March – only their second single to reach the top spot, following 1981’s “Keep on Loving You”.


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