For the week starting Feb. 10, 1979, Eddie Rabbitt hit No. 1 on the charts with “Every Which Way But Loose.” Co-written by Steve Dorff, Snuff Garrett and Milton Brown, the mid-tempo, pedal steel-adorned song stars a protagonist who can’t shake the memory of someone from his head.
In fact, the narrator of “Every Which Way But Loose” feels closer to his crush than ever — the woman is “turning [him] every which way but loose” — and feels compelled to rekindle their romance. “My mind tells me to move along / But my body begs me to stay,” sings Rabbitt. “And now I feel the need to hold you close / And love the night away.”
“Every Which Way But Loose” leads the soundtrack LP for the hit 1978 film of the same name. The song mirrors the movie’s plot somewhat: Clint Eastwood stars as a trucker traveling from California to Colorado in pursuit of a crush, alongside his trusty companions: his brother, Orville, and a pet orangutan named Clyde.
Despite the somewhat-absurd premise, Every Which Way But Loose grossed more than $85 million in the U.S. Another tune from the soundtrack, Mel Tillis’ “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” also hit No. 1 later in 1979.
“Every Which Way But Loose” was a big hit upon its release. It entered the country singles chart at No. 18, which was the highest debut ever on that chart at the time. Garth Brooks equaled that No. 18 debut with 2005’s “Good Ride Cowboy,” although Keith Urban smashed the record by landing a No. 17 debut in 2006 with “Once in a Lifetime.”
“Every Which Way But Loose” was Rabbitt’s third straight single to top the country charts, and spent three weeks overall at No. 1. The song also crossed over and peaked at a modest No. 30 on the Billboard pop singles chart, but it remains a country favorite. Blake Shelton even covered the tune in late 2018.
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