The Song Dennis DeYoung Wrote as a Birthday Present for His Wife Became the First and Only No. 1 Hit for Styx

Founding Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung first met Suzanne Feusi in high school in 1964. By 1970, the high school sweethearts married, had two children—daughter Carrie Ann and son Matthew—and remained together ever since. The earlier days of their courtship and marriage inspired DeYoung to write several songs about his love, beginning with his first, “Lady,” released on the band’s 1973 album Styx II.

Years later, DeYoung was still smitten and wrote another song for Suzanne, a gift for her birthday. “It was getting close to my wife’s birthday, around the time for the [Styx] Pieces of Eight tour,” recalled DeYoung of writing the song. “I had been going on the road and leaving my wife and our first child for six years. In the beginning, it had seemed justifiable because I had that tremendous ambition, but when I became successful, that ambition waned a little bit; I didn’t have that same tunnel vision, where I could only see one thing. I began to see how much everything else in my life matters.”

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‘You Know it’s You, Babe’

Going on the road and leaving your family behind is never easy and this is revealed in DeYoung’s lyrics for “Babe.” In the song, DeYoung wanted to tell my wife how much he missed her when he was traveling and dreaded the time ticking away before his departure—But I’ll be lonely without you / And I’ll need your love to see me through.

“It was a song really about separation,” said DeYoung. “I call her ‘babe.’ As I found out later, almost every man calls his girl or wife “babe,” which I think is part of the tune’s universal appeal.”

Former lead singer of Styx Dennis DeYoung performs onstage during the Unbridled Eve Gala during the 142nd Kentucky Derby on May 6, 2016, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for York Sisters, LLC)


DeYoung demoed “Babe” with bassist Chuck Panozzo and drummer John Panozzo. At first, “Babe” was only meant for his wife’s ears and was never written as a Styx song, but once the band heard it Styx’s James “J.Y.” Young and Tommy Shaw suggested the ballad was too good to leave off their next album.

Released on Styx’s ninth album, Cornerstone from 1979, “Babe” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and became the band’s first and only No. 1 hit.

Babe, I’m leaving
I must be on my way
The time is drawing near
My train is going
I see it in your eyes
The love, the need, your tears

But I’ll be lonely without you
And I’ll need your love to see me through
So please believe me
My heart is in your hands
And I’ll be missing you

‘Cause you know it’s you, Babe
Whenever I get weary
And I’ve had enough
Feel like giving up
You know it’s you, Babe
Giving me the courage
And the strength I need
Please believe that it’s true
Babe, I love you

Babe, I’m leaving
I’ll say it once again
And somehow try to smile
I know the feeling
We’re trying to forget
If only for a while

[RELATED: Behind The Song: “Boat On The River” by Styx]

“If they’ve figured out what’s more important than a relationship between two people,” said DeYoung of the song in a 1981 interview. “I don’t know what it is.”

When Styx parted ways with the singer in 1999, the band pulled “Babe” from their setlist, but have kept in other DeYoung-penned hits like “Come Sail Away,” “The Best of Times,” “Lady” and “Mr. Roboto.” DeYoung continues to perform “Babe” as a solo artist.

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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