‘Constructing it like it’s Lego': Inspiration for John Waite’s ‘Missing You’ included Jimmy Webb, Paul Rodgers

John Waite’s most famous solo track, the charttopping 1984 smash “Missing You,” grew out of an amalgamation of people, of memories and of influences. As such, the song, then as now, is constantly being pulled apart by conflicting emotions. That gives “Missing You” is emotion, and its power.

It was Jimmy Webb writing — and Glen Campbell memorably singing — “I can hear you through the whine” on Wichita Lineman.” But it was also Paul Rodgers crying lines like “you can tell me why you’re feeling down” during 1972’s “Catch a Train,” part of a track he wrote with Paul Kossoff, Simon Kirke and Andy Fraser for Free.

“Those are the two songs I used to channel the lyric,” says Waite, who has recorded a new version of the song.

“A lot of my songwriting is like that; I’ll just pick up the guitar and start singing,” Waite adds. “Many songs you’ll start constructing it like it’s Lego. But many of the great ones are at least partially finished, you’re a conduit to the song itself and where it comes from. But it you start taking it for granted and you expect it, it leaves you. [Laughs.] It really will. I keep notebooks all over the house, and I’ll sing messages into my iPhone, and I very rarely use any of it!”

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