‘I was just strumming around': Loose session with Steve Cropper sparks one of Rod Stewart’s biggest hits

After so long in this business, Rod Stewart has learned not to question the unknowable thing that is inspiration. He accepts the transient, essentially mysterious nature of creating songs.

“I wish I could give you a fancy explanation,” he tells The Star Tribune, “but they just come out.”

Take “Tonight’s the Night,” which became Stewart’s second-ever charttopping song in 1976. “Same thing, really,” Stewart says. “I was working with Steve Cropper in Muscle Shoals in the afternoon, just strumming around. Someone said that line. I wish I could give you some elaborate explanation. But it’s more luck than judgment.”

“Tonight’s the Night” appeared as the opening track on A Night on the Town, principally recorded at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with some additional vocal work done at Caribou Ranch with producer Tom Dowd. The sessions also included Cropper’s MGs bandmate Donald “Duck” Dunn, as well as Joe Walsh, David Lindley and Stewart’s then-girlfield Britt Ekland, who voiced the cooing French parts.

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