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Artist: .38 Special
Album: Special Forces
Writers: Frank Sullivan, Jim Peterik, Jeff Carlisi, Don Barnes
I never knew there’d come a day when I’d be sayin’ to you, “Don’t let this good love slip away…”
Those are the beginning lyrics of one of the most popular songs by .38 Special, Caught Up In You. It was released on their sixth album Special Forces, the second highly successful album the band recorded. “Caught Up In You” was the band’s biggest hit, reaching no. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and no. one on the Mainstream Rock chart. I’ve never met a person who didn’t love this song, as well as their other big hits, especially Hold On Loosely, which nobody can listen to without singing along. They are just fantastic rock songs, with every single part being a hook.
.38 Special is often listed among the Southern Rock bands of their era and they certainly did start out very much in the vein of the Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd. But they also should be listed among the most successful mainstream hard rock acts of the time. The band was formed in 1975 by Donnie Van Sant, the brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant. Their first two albums, 1977’s self-named .38 Special and 1978’s Special Delivery were as Southern-fried as they come. They did gather fans and they toured constantly, but neither album did all that well. However, their widespread success came from songs that were more commercial hard rock, and casual listeners may not be aware of the band’s Southern sensibilities.
However, unlike other Southern Rock acts of the period, they saw the writing on the wall and they were able to hone their sound, keeping a Sothern rock flavor while delivering a hard rock sound worthy of sold-out arenas. This started with their third album in 1979, Rockin Into the Night.
In 1981 they released Wild Eyed Southern Boys which generated another famous song, Hold on Loosely. In 1982, Special Forces and Caught up In You was even bigger. This new, more melodic sound was due in part to their collaboration on all three of these works with Jim Peterik of Survivor.
The vocals on Caught up In You were handled by guitarist Don Barnes, who traded vocals with Donnie Van Zant. He was the singer for the “Rockin into the Night,” “Hold On Loosely,” “If I’d Been the One,” and other songs that became the band’s biggest hits.
Although .38 Special is still performing with one original member, Don Barnes, who had left the band in 1987 but returned in 1992, Ronnie Van Zant had to retire from the band due to health reasons, starting in 2012 when he was unable to tour. Ronnie Van Zant also played with his brother Johnie as part of Van Zant. Johnny is the current lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd, having joined them when they reunited in 1987.
Since “Caught Up in You” came out when MTV was bringing music videos to a wide audience, it also became the first for the band to have a video with a “concept.” Here is the official video: