John Waite Knew ‘Missing You’ Would Be a No. 1 Song When He Ad-Libbed This Lyric — ‘It Floored Me’

John Waite’s “Missing You” is one of the most famous classic rock ballads of the 1980s. During an interview, Waite said he was thinking of a famous country song when he wrote the track. He also knew “Missing You” would reach No. 1 after he wrote a particular line of the song.

John Waite sitting on the floor in the corner of a room
John Waite | Lester Cohen/Getty Images

John Waite was thinking of 2 classic songs when he wrote ‘Missing You’

“Missing You” is a soft rock song with new wave influences. It’s a pretty far cry from being a country song. During an interview with Songfacts, Waite said he had a country song in mind when he wrote “Missing You.”

“I was actually thinking about ‘Wichita Lineman,’ the Glen Campbell song,” Waite said. “And there’s a song by Free called ‘Catch A Train.’ They have nothing to do with “Missing You” whatsoever, but the symbolism of waiting on a platform or a highway leading off into nowhere but telegraph poles into some unknown future.”

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John Waite loved a line of the song in which he said he wasn’t missing anyone

Waite said a line about how he wasn’t missing anyone was the secret ingredient that made the song hit No. 1. “I knew after I’d finished the first chorus[ that the song would hit No. 1.],” he said. “I had no idea I was going to sing, ‘Missing you, since you’ve been gone away, I ain’t missing you no matter what my friends say.'”

Waite was impressed with that line immediately. “I had no idea I was going to sing that, and when it came out, it floored me,” he recalled. “I stood back from the mic, and I thought, F*** it. No. 1.’ I just knew. I just knew in my heart that it was that good.”

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The way the world reacted to ‘Missing You’

Waite said the song has a special place in the history of 1980s music. “It was one of those songs that defined a decade, really,” he opined. “It was one of the biggest.” He said “Missing You” has been played 9 or 10 million times on the radio in the United States.

“Missing You” was a massive hit. It lasted 24 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, spending one of those weeks at No. 1. None of Waite’s other solo songs reached the top 10. “Missing You” appeared on Waite’s album No Brakes. No Brakes hit No. 10 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 43 weeks.

“Missing You” was also Waite’s highest-charting song in the United Kingdom. The Official Charts Company reports the track peaked at No. 9 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 11 weeks. Meanwhile, No Brakes hit No. 64, remaining on the chart for three weeks. “Missing You” is a classic soft rock ballad and it might not be the same without a country song.

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