These posts are about the songs that just barely failed to cross the key line of chart success, entering the Billboard Top 40. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 41.
According to Huey Lewis, he started writing the song “Workin’ for a Livin” when he was doing exactly that. A musician who toiled through the nineteen-seventies with modest success — most notably as a member of the San Francisco band Clover — Lewis relied on a series of other jobs to help him make ends meet over the years, including a stint as a truck driver. It was in the cab of the vehicle, Lewis said, that he started formulating the tune that would become the fourth and final single off of Picture This, the sophomore album from Huey Lewis and the News.
Coming across as a modest bar band with slicker-than-average capabilities, Huey Lewis and the News had already registered a pair of Top 40 hits from Picture This, including “Do You Believe in Love,” which peaked at #7. “Workin’ for a Livin” was an attempt to wring one more one more chart success out of the album, cementing the band as an act with real staying power. Instead, the song stalled out just before crossing the most important Billboard barrier, finishing its ascent at #41.
If there was disappointment over the slight slump of “Workin’ for a Livin,” it didn’t last long. The following year, Huey Lewis and the News released their third full-length, Sports. One of the biggest albums of the early nineteen-eighties, Sports yielded five Top 40 singles (four of which made it into the Top 40) and went multiplatinum.
Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Top 40 Smash Near Misses” tag.