Top 10 Toto Songs (1978 – 2018)

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Shortly after Toto formed in Los Angeles in 1977, they sealed their musical fate as masters of melodic rock with power chord hits like “Hold the Line,” and early ’80s pop smashes, “Africa” and “Rosanna.”

Though a majority of their catalog was penned by keyboardist David Paich and guitarist Steve Lukather, late drummer Jeff Porcaro (1954-1992), bassist Mike Porcaro (1955-2015), their brother keyboardist Steve Porcaro, original Toto vocalist Bobby Kimball and later frontman Joseph Williams also contributed to many of the band’s songs from their eponymous 1978 debut through the band’s 14th album Old Is New in 2018.

Always having a hand in the production of each one of their album, the band picked up three Grammy awards in 1982 for their fourth album, Toto IV, including Album of the Year, and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.

Now 45 years since Toto formed, here’s a chronological look at just 10 of the band’s top songs over their four decades-worth of albums.

1. “Hold The Line” (1978)
Written by David Paich

Off Toto’s self-titled debut, “Hold The Line” was the band’s first hit, peaking at No. 5. Written by Paich, the lead vocals were sung by the band’s original frontman Bobby Kimball. Paich said he had just bought a new Yamaha upright piano and before he even wrote the lyrics, he started playing the riff to “Hold the Line.”

“I must have played it for three days, non-stop,” shared Paich in 2020. “People were banging on the door at night [saying] ‘shut up,’ and I think I got an eviction notice. So I got that song and constructed a little more of it and it was one of the first songs I brought down when we were testing out singers.”

Paich also cited Sly & The Family Stone’s “Hot Fun In The Summertime” as the main inspiration behind the song. “That record never would have happened if Sly Stone never did ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime,’” he added. “It really came out of that groove.”

The anthemic song still remains a staple on the Toto setlist, and Kimball continues to perform “Hold The Line” on his solo tours. Lukather also performed the song while on tour with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band in 2012 and 2022.

It’s not in the words that you told me
It’s not in the way you say you’re mine
It’s not in the way that you came back to me
It’s not in the way that your love set me free
It’s not in the way you look or the things that you say that you’ll do

2. “I’ll Supply the Love” (1978)
Written by David Paich

The second single off Toto, “I’ll Supply the Love” chomps down from the opening riffs, anchored by Jeff Porcaro’s marching beats and Kimball’s high notes. “I’ll Supply the Love” didn’t fare as well as “Hold The Line” on the charts, but it still holds its own addictive yacht rock grooves.

I see a horseman in the sky
It makes me turn and wonder why
I hear the same old fourteen reasons
Must be the changin’ of the seasons

You supply the night, baby
I’ll supply the love
You supply the night, baby
I’ll supply the love

3. “Rosanna” (1982)
Written by David Paich

The lead single of Toto’s fourth album, Toto IV, “Rosanna” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks. In 1983, “Rosanna” won the Grammy for Record of the Year. The West Side Story-inspired music video, directed by Steve Barron (Michael Jackson‘s “Billie Jean” and Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69“) also features a younger (uncredited) Patrick Swayze in the group of male dancers backing up Rosanna, who is played by Cynthia Rhodes—Swayze’s later co-star in the 1987 romantic drama Dirty Dancing.

In 2018, Weezer covered “Rosanna” after fans continued requesting that they record “Africa,” which the band also released a few days later.

I can see your face still shining through the window on the other side
Rosanna, Rosanna
I didn’t know that a girl like you could make me feel so sad
Rosanna

All I wanna tell you is now you’ll never ever have to compromise
Rosanna, Rosanna
I never thought that losing you could ever hurt so bad

4. “Africa” (1982)
Written by David Paich and Jeff Porcaro

The third single off Toto IV, “Africa” topped the charts and was the band’s first and only No. 1 hit.

Driven by Porcaro’s slow beating rumble, the initial idea for the song came to Paich who always read about and saw images of Africa, including its famine, but had never visited the continent. “I romanticized this story about a social worker that goes over there and falls in love with working with the country and doing good,” shared Paich. “But he also falls in love and has to make a choice between helping people for the rest of his life or having a family and doing that kind of thing.”

Also described by Porcaro as “a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past,” the song also played as a metaphor for Paich’s real life.

“I was at the age where I was so immersed in my work 24-7, that at times I felt like I was becoming just a victim of my work,” said Paich. “There was a little bit of autobiographical information in there: being consumed by my work, not having time to go out and pursue getting married and raising a family and doing all the things that other people do that were my age at the time. So, it could be semi-autobiographical at that point.”

I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She’s coming in, 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say
Hurry boy, it’s waiting there for you

Check out the American Songwriter Story Behind the Song for “Africa,” HERE.

5. “I’ll Be Over You” (1986)
Written by Steve Lukather and Randy Goodrum

Off Toto’s sixth album, Fahrenheit, the album was the first to feature new singer Joseph Williams, though Lukather also took over vocals on some tracks, including the soft rock ballad “I’ll Be Over You.” The video, which shows the band playing on a rooftop, also features a cameo by The Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald, who also provided backing vocals for the track. The song peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100.

Some people live their dreams
Some people close their eyes
Some people’s destiny
Passes by

There are no guarantees
There are no alibis
That’s how our love must be
Don’t ask why

6. “Pamela” (1988)
Written by David Paich and Joseph Williams

Some six years after “Rosanna” left her mark, Toto was on to another woman: “Pamela.” Off the band’s seventh album, aptly titled The Seventh One, “Pamela” is one of two song titles on the album named after women—the second being the Lukather and Randy Goodrum-penned “Anna.” The song, which was partly inspired by Williams’ friend named Pamela, reached No. 9 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

Side by side, I’ll be yours forever
Rain or shine, any kind of weather
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
Let’s take what’s getting old and make it new

Oh, eye to eye, it’s a blinding confrontation
You and I, we’re a deadly combination
So don’t start mixing truth with jealousy
The road we’re on is clear as far as I can see

7. “I Will Remember” (1995)
Written by Steve Lukather and Stan Lynch

Written by Lukather and original Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers drummer, Stan Lynch, “I Will Remember” is a tender tribute to Toto’s late drummer Jeff Porcaro, who died in 1992 at the age of 38 from drug abuse. Sung by Lukather, “I Will Remember” was released on Toto’s ninth album, Tambu, and steadily builds into one of the band’s most moving ballads.

How we’ve come to surround ourselves
In a sea of thieves
In a land without learning
Only the fools believe

I went driving last night
On a dark canyon road
Had the sky to myself
But I wasn’t alone

Had the pain of my lifetime
For my company
How did it end up like this
For you and me

8. “Bottom of Your Soul” (2006)
Written by David Paich, Steve Lukather, Simon Phillips, Bobby Kimball, Mike Porcaro

Though “Bottom of Your Soul” never hit the charts, the track, off Toto’s 12th album, Falling in Between is a sweeping pop ballad with a more socially conscious meaning, what Paich called Toto’s “prayer for peace.” Sung by Lukather and Williams, “Bottom of Your Soul” was also co-written by original singer Bobby Kimball, who is also featured on backing vocals. Falling in Between is also the last Toto album to feature Kimball.

Where are the children we lost not long ago
Feel for the Mothers who weep for them
I pray for the Fathers who are standing by their side
In their world of pain and suffering

Have you ever seen the look in a hungry child’s eyes
They can’t eat money or promises
Give them your smile and try holding out your hands
Let them know you’re there, let them know you’re there

Why is it always the ones that we love
Are the ones that will never come home
Why must all of the bridges we cross take their toll
Always remember the voice in your head
Speaks to you when you’re alone
And it comforts you
From the top of your heart to the bottom of your souls

9. “Orphan” (2015)
Written by David Paich, Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams

Nearly 40 years from their debut, the band’s 14th album, Toto XIV boasts a number of smoldering tracks from “Burn” and “Holy War” and the ignited “Orphan.” Toto XIV marked the return of singer Joseph Williams after a brief departure and is the first album, since Toto IV, without bassist Mike Porcaro, who died in 2015 at the age of 59 from complications of ALS.

You’re never alone in the world
You’re never alone in the world
You believe in each and everyone of us
You’re never alone in the world

I was born in the lost and found
Often raised in the underground
Then one day I opened up my eyes
Looked around and I realized

10. “We’ll Keep on Running,” featuring Skrillex and What So Not (2018)
Written by David Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro, Joseph Williams, Chris Emerson (What So Not), George Maple, James Rushent, and Surahn Sidhu.

Sung by Lukather and Williams, “We’ll Keep on Running” is the last song on Toto’s 15th and final album together, Old Is New, and features DJ and producer Skrillex and Australian electronic artist What So Not. Fused by futuristic flashes of synth and dance beats, “We’ll Keep on Running” is the most diverse song on the list yet still captures the full scope of Toto’s combined musicianship.

Among the newer tracks on Old Is New, there are also three older ones—”Spanish Sea,” “Devil’s Tower,” and “Oh Why”—all featuring Jeff and Mike Porcaro. 

Tonight’s the night we leave this all behind
Stuck in the same old place, in the same old state of mind
Before our luck runs out, let’s get out while we can
We’re turning in circles, we’re back where we began

Tonight, tonight, whoo
We keep on running on next to nothing
Tonight, tonight, whoo
We keep on running on next to nothing

Photo by Michel Linssen/Redferns

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