Nearly 35 years after being penned in a late-night writing session, one of the best-selling and most enduring songs of the ’80s has been given new life and, in turn, is helping give life to children around the world.
Foreigner has re-recorded its massive 1984 single I Want to Know What Love Is and gifted the new version’s rights to Shriners Hospitals for Children. An accompanying music video was shot exclusively in the Tampa Bay area and released Jan. 1.
“There is a spiritual undertone to I Want to Know What Love Is,” Foreigner founder Mick Jones said. “When you apply the lyrics to a cause like Shriners Hospitals for Children, it brings a while new meaning to the song.”
Jones said he wrote the song at 3 a.m. sometime in 1984. It was released later that year as the lead single on the band’s sixth studio album, Agent Provocateur. The song reached No. 1 that year, becoming Foreigner’s biggest hit to date and voted as one of the greatest rock songs of all time by Rolling Stone.
In the new version, the New Jersey Mass Choir that provided a gospel feel to the original is subbed out for the Shriners Children’s Choir.
Shriners Hospital chief marketing officer Mel Bower said the band has already helped raise more than $1 million for the nonprofit organization through the Rock-It Kids program, in which local Shriners attend concerts and sell CDs. Portions of the profits go to the hospital and to an artist’s chosen charity.
Bower said the band approached the hospital about a year ago with the idea to re-record the song. The plan went into motion last year and the accompanying video was filmed in the fall.
The video follows current lead singer Kelly Hansen on a stroll through Ybor City. He runs into a number of minor frustrating inconveniences, such as a broken down elevator, closed sidewalk and a fresh cup of coffee from Blind Tiger getting spilled on him as he passes Acropolis on Seventh Avenue.
Later, he comes across a group of Shriners patients enjoying life, despite some of the mountains they’ve had to climb and all their heartache and pain.
“I’m kind of acting like things are inconveniencing me. Small things in life and I’m not as aware as I should be about what life can hand you,” Hansen said. “When you have troubled times in your life, especially with a health issue, to be able to see the bright side and enjoy life is really important. That’s what these guys really make me think of.”
The new song and video are available for download through iTunes and Google Play and can be found at showthemlove.org. Proceeds from the band’s upcoming album The Greatest Hits of Foreigner Live in Concert will also go to the hospital.
“This means everything to us. We are dependent upon donations from the public to operate our hospitals,” Bower said. “It just shows us that they believe in our mission of love and we can continue our mission to help kids in more places all across the world.”
Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected] Follow @danuscripts.