Behind the Meaning of the Song “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Break out the karaoke machine. Bust out your favorite ’80s movies. It’s time to dive into the history and meaning of the song, “Here I Go Again,” by Whitesnake.

The British-born rock group formed in London in 1978. Originally starting as a backing group for frontman David Coverdale, Whitesnake developed into a powerhouse of hard rock (with a little glam sprinkled in later on).

The band released its self-titled album in 1987, selling over eight million copies in the United States, and introducing the world to “Here I Go Again,” an epic, self-reflective rock ballad ubiquitous in dive bars and karaoke machines everywhere.

“Here I Go Again”

The song, you might be surprised to know, was originally released on Whitesnake’s 1982 LP, Saints & Sinners. It was re-recorded in 1987 for the group’s eponymous album. Released as a single, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 10 that year and No. 9 on the U.K. Singles Chart a few weeks later.

[RELATED: Behind the Meaning of “Roxanne” by The Police]

To date, the track has appeared on a number of prominent lists about the “best songs ever” or “greatest songs of the ’80s.” For example, VH1 listed it as the No. 17 best song of that decade. Today, it remains a beloved track, played over and over in sports bars around the United States and beyond.

Written by the group’s lead singer, Coverdale along with the band’s former guitarist, Bernie Marsden, the original version was slightly more blues-oriented. But the re-recorded version in 1987 only came about as part of a negotiation between record executives Al Coury and David Geffen with Coverdale to also re-record the song, “Crying in the Rain” for the band’s self-titled album.

The original chorus for the song was a bit different at first:

And here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a hobo I was born to walk alone

The 1987 version, however, changed one of the words. Cloverdale sing-shrieks:

And here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone

In an interview about that change, Cloverdale said the lyrics originally included “drifter” but he’d heard the word in a number of other songs, so he changed the line to “hobo.” It was later changed back to drifter, however, in the re-recorded 1987 rendition so that it wouldn’t be misheard for other words.

Meaning

“Here I Go Again” is all about going one’s own way. Maybe love will find you and offer you a respite from the dreary journey. But no matter what, you’re alone in your search in life. So rage on into the night.

[RELATED: Behind the Meaning of “Detroit Rock City” By Kiss]

Cloverdale sings:

I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

And:

I’m gonna hold on for the rest of my days
‘Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

And then the giant refrain:

And here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone
And I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time
But here I go again

Here I go again
Here I go again
Here I go

Final Thoughts

The most compelling aspect of this song is hearing an artist at the top of his game tell you that the road is long, the road is tough and the road is solitary. It’s encouraging to hear such honesty, vulnerability, and, well, wisdom. It’s not about feigning a feeling of lonesomeness, or the act of siloing yourself away. But to be an artist—to be a great one—takes sacrifice and personal epiphanies. So… here you go again.

Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns

Leave a Reply

Walker Hayes’ 2023 Duck Buck Tour to Feature Ingrid Andress, Breland

R. Kelly Denies Releasing ‘I Admit It’ LP from Prison, Legal Team Cites Suspects