What Was Boston’s First Hit Song?

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Boston Song: More Than a Feeling

Artist: Boston

Album: Boston

Writer: Tom Scholz

Boston’s first big hit came on their self-titled debut album in 1976. Actually, it’s a bit of a misleading question because the album was one of the best-selling rock debut albums of all time and had three hit singles, one after the other. The first, though, is just what you’d expect. Although pretty much every Boston hit ever recorded is still heard on the radio today, there is one song played more than any other: More Than a Feeling.

More Than a Feeling rose to no. 5 on the Billboard charts for the week of December 25, 1976. It was joined by such classics as You Don’t Have to be a Star Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.), You Make me Feel Like Dancing (Leo Sayer), Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word (Elton John), Car Wash (yes, from the movie, Rose Royce) and Rubberband Man (The Spinners), which you might know from the movie Stripes.

Have you noticed something? Boston was one of the vanguards of hard rock during that era. They had something nobody else had. One of the greatest voices ever in rock, Brad Delp, wonderfully layered harmonies, and Tom Schultz’s unique guitar sound, born thanks to his technical wizardry (he went to MIT).

The next single to hit off the album Boston was Long Time, which reached no. 22 for the week of March 5, 1977. Then came Peace of Mind, at no. 38 in June 1977. All three songs still enjoy regular airplay. The album flew off the shelves, selling ten million copies worldwide.

Illustrating once again the political candidate’s complete lack of regard for “seeking permission,” Mike Huckabee, during his presidential campaign, used More than a Feeling. Not only that, but he played the song with his band, Capital Offense (really quite the band name for a Presidential candidate). Tom Schultz, himself not a stranger to litigation, wrote a letter to Huckabee complaining that he was using the song without permission. Barry Goudreau, the original lead guitarist for Boston, didn’t seem to have a problem with it since he showed up at Huckabee rallies and even sat in during the song performance. This is not surprising since there had been bad blood between Scholz and the other original members of the band since the early ’80s, including Goudreau, Fran Sheehan, and Sib Hashian. Goudreau, at any rate, has never been shy about playing the hits of Boston.

Unfortunately Brad Delp, he of the golden voice, committed suicide in 2007 by intentionally poisoning himself with carbon monoxide. He had been caught between both sides for years, continuing to tour with Tom Schulz in Boston, as well as gigging and recording with the other members. Some of those close to him speculated that it was this, together with the lingering bad feelings between him and Scholz, that lead him to suicide. Scholz reacted strongly, suing the Boston Herald, who reported these opinions, for libel in a case that went all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

It is sad that, because of all the petty squabbling, jealousies, and bitter legal disputes, the legacy of one of the greatest rock bands ever has been sullied. It is especially ironic given that one of the qualities that Boston had, besides their hard-rocking arena sound, was feel-good songs with lyrics that never sought to offend or even provoke.

Boston – More Than a Feeling Official Music Video

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