The Meaning Behind “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” by Rod Stewart and the Famous Girlfriend of His Who Inspired It

Rod Stewart already had 10 UK Top-10 hits in the book (as well as a couple that reached that status in the U.S.) when he launched “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” as a single from his 1977 album Foot Loose & Fancy Free. Presto: Another Top 5 on both sides of the Atlantic for one of the ’70s defining artists.

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What is the song about? Which famous girlfriend of Stewart’s inspired the song? And why did Stewart later claim that the track was a tribute to many things besides a single girl. The answers to those questions and more await as we explore “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim).”

A Quick-Thinking Producer

What’s often overlooked about Rod Stewart’s first flush of major success as a solo artist was that he was the sole producer on three straight UK chart-topping albums of his from 1971 to 1974. But it wasn’t a job that he particularly relished. As such, he looked for someone else to take over those reins on his 1975 album Atlantic Crossing.

Tom Dowd boasted an incredible list of artists with whom he’d worked, and he signed on with Stewart for that record, beginning a highly successful four-album stretch with the singer. Dowd was on board for Foot Loose & Fancy Free, which contained Stewart’s typical mix of brash rockers and soulful ballads. Perhaps his biggest contribution to Stewart’s catalog came via some ingenuity one day in Toronto, where the sessions for the record were taking place.

As Stewart remembered in the notes to his Storyteller compilation, a bolt of creativity hit him one day outside the hotel where he was staying. A catchy chorus, one that would eventually adorn “You’re in My Heart,” popped into his head, only neither he nor Dowd had a tape recorder on hand so they wouldn’t forget it. According to Stewart, Dowd came up with a brilliant solution:

“‘Sing it anyway, and I’ll write the chords and melody on this cigarette packet,’ said Tom. And I started to sing in full voice at 10 o’clock in the morning with many bemused onlookers. A song was born.”

Britt Eklund

The general consensus is that “You’re in My Heart” was Stewart’s ode to Britt Eklund, a Swedish model and actress (one of her roles was as a Bond girl) who had been dating Stewart since 1975. She claimed that Stewart sang the song to her at dinner one night and told her he had written it for her.

Stewart later claimed that the song wasn’t all that specific. Granted, that could have been a byproduct of the fact that he and Eklund parted on less-than-amicable terms not long after the song was released. But he does have a point in that there are other passions of his that work his way into the song.

For example, the melody has an undeniable Scottish lilt to it. Stewart’s dad was Scottish, and Stewart harbors a deep affinity for the country. In addition, the lines about Celtic, United touch on Stewart’s love for soccer (or football, as he, being from England, would call it).

What is “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” About?

Stewart doesn’t get enough credit as a songwriter, in part because he’s also been a bit sheepish about his skills in that department. “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” showcases his offhand yet personal way with a lyric, not to mention his knack for crowd-pleasing melodies. How can you not feel a little warm inside when he gets to that singalong chorus and testifies, You’ll be my breath should I grow old?

In the verses, Stewart hits the details to make the song feel authentic. He acknowledges his bad-boy side: I really must confess right here / The attraction was purely physical, he admits of their first encounter. He also gently teases her: Her ad lib lines were well rehearsed. But ultimately, he finds himself a little unworthy of her. Consider the way he punctuates a laundry list of her wonderful qualities by looking at the relationship from her perspective: But honey what do you see in me?

“You’re in My Heart” doesn’t pretend to be a dazzling piece of poetry. But you can’t listen to it and deny that it comes right from the heart, not with Rod Stewart’s emotional vocals delivering those sweet praises alongside one of the most welcoming melodies of his career.

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Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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