The Story Behind the Late Eric Carmen’s Risqué Hit with The Raspberries, “Go All the Way”

Former Raspberries frontman and solo star Eric Carmen’s death was announced on March 11 by his wife. According to Amy Carmen, the singer/songwriter died in his sleep. He was 74.

Videos by American Songwriter

While Carmen enjoyed huge success as a solo artist during the 1970s and ’80s, his music career first kicked into high gear with the power-pop group The Raspberries. The Cleveland-based band released its debut album, Raspberries, in 1972, and the second single from the record, “Go All the Way,” became their biggest hit and signature tune.

[RELATED: Paul Stanley, Stephen King, & More Pay Tribute to Raspberries Frontman Eric Carmen, Dead at 74]

Released in July 1972, “Go All the Way” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 that October. Written by Carmen, the song is sung from the perspective of a young man who is thrilled that his girlfriend has asked him to take their relationship to the next level.

Because of its suggestive subject matter, the song was banned in the U.K. by the BBC.

Carmen on Writing “Go All the Way”

In a 2014 interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Carmen explained that the tune’s title was taken from a paperback novel he’d seen in a drugstore (Going All the Way by Dan Wakefield), while the song itself was inspired by The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys.

“I was at Brush High School and I remember seeing guys in the hallway, they’re singing The Who’s ‘Magic Bus’ and then pumping their fists in the air,” he recalled. “I thought that I wanted to write a song like that.”

Carmen also noted that as he came up with the concept for the song, he recalled the when The Rolling Stones were on The Ed Sullivan Show, “and they made them change the lyrics [of their hit] ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ to ‘Let’s Spend Some Time Together.’”

As for The Beach Boys influence, Carmen said, “I noticed that on the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds record they could get away with racy lyrics like that because of how they looked and the melodic way they sang the suggestive stuff. They slid it by the censors. So my idea was to put those words in the mouth of the girl. It was a different approach. That made it more acceptable.”

More About “Go All the Way”

“Go All the Way” is a power-pop confection that kicks off with a catchy guitar riff and a brief verse section that quickly moves into a melody- and harmony-drenched chorus. The song also features a memorable sing-along bridge that builds in intensity before kicking back into the chorus.

“Go All the Way” in Films and Cover Versions of the Song

“Go All the Way” later was featured in the 2000 Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous, and in the 2014 Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy.

A cover of the tune by The Killers is heard during the end credits of the 2012 movie Dark Shadows. Matthew Sweet and The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs also recorded a version of “Go All the Way” for their 2009 collaborative album Under the Covers, Vol. 2.

Leave a Reply

The Haunting Meaning Behind “Lovely” by Billie Eilish (with Khalid)