REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin

Music

Whether you love or hate power ballads, they defined classic rock during the 1980s. REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You” is one of the most famous examples of this trend.

Whether you love or hate power ballads, they defined classic rock music during the 1980s. REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You” is one of the most famous examples of this trend. Judging from that title, it would be a good song to play at weddings. A member of the band contests that interpretation.

A member of REO Speedwagon feels some fans misunderstand ‘Keep On Loving You’

“Keep On Loving You” was written and co-produced by REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin. During a 2017 interview with Songfacts, Cronin gave fans insight into “Keep On Loving You.” 

“It’s funny, because a lot of people over the years have told me how they played that song at their wedding and it was the first dance at their wedding, or it’s ‘their song’ with their boyfriend or girlfriend,” he said. “My first thought is always, ‘Wait. Did you listen to the verses of the song?!’”

REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin compared the song to a religious symbol

For context, the narrator of “Keep On Loving You” calls his lover a liar and a snake during the song’s verses. In the chorus, he emphasizes his fidelity. If someone wants to use “Keep On Loving You” as a wedding song, that’s their prerogative. However, most people don’t view serpentine imagery as very romantic! A more traditional wedding song like Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” or “The Long and Winding Road” by The Beatles might be a better choice.

Cronin compared the view of love in “Keep On Loving You” to yin-yang, a famous symbol from Chinese religion known as Taoism. “That song is a yin-yang thing, where there is obviously trouble in paradise in the verses, but I always believed that people are capable of changing, and that if your life runs into a tough spot, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to run from it,” he said. “You can also look it in the eye, and if there is enough worthwhile in the relationship to keep it going, then you give it all you’ve got, and that’s what I did. Even in giving it all I got, at some point, we realized that it just wasn’t going to work.”

‘Keep On Loving You’ ruled the charts

“Keep On Loving You” became REO Speedwagon’s first No. 1 single in the United States. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a week and stayed on the chart for 28 weeks. 

The tune appeared on the album Hi Infidelity. That record reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 15 weeks. To date, Hi Infidelity remains the band’s sole chart-topping album. Hi Infidelity includes three other top 40 singles: “Take It on the Run,” “Don’t Let Him Go,” and “In Your Letter.” 

Today, REO Speedwagon might not be as famous as other 1980s bands like Guns N’ Roses or Bon Jovi, but they definitely knew how to appeal to the masses. Perhaps their style will have a comeback someday when the tides turn for easy-listening music. Regardless, no one can change the fact that they embodied the early 1980s more than just about any other band.

“Keep On Loving You” isn’t a straightforward love song, but that’s what makes it so fascinating.

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