“Hold On”

“Hold On”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Chynna Phillips
“Hold On”

Written by Chynna Phillips, Carnie Wilson and Glen Ballard
Recorded by Wilson Phillips

I remember sitting in Glen Ballard’s studio and he was building the musical track for the song. I was so inspired by it. I thought it was so fresh sounding. I wasn’t surprised since he’s written for everyone from Aretha Franklin to Christina Aguilera, Alanis Morissette and Aerosmith.

I had a melody going on in my head as I was listening to it, but I asked Glen if I could bring a copy of the track with me. He gave me a copy on cassette and I played it over and over in the car on my way home. I was only 18 and I was living with my mom at the time. I pulled up in front of her house, took out a yellow legal pad and I didn’t leave the car until I wrote both the melody and the lyrics.

It was very personal. At that time, I was struggling to stay sober and I was sort of at a crossroads in my life. I could have gone one of two ways — one was a pathway to destruction and my life would fall apart; the other road would take lots of courage and strength. I knew that if I could “Hold On” for one more day there would be a tomorrow. I also realized that it was my choice to make.

The next morning I went to Glen’s studio. Carnie (Wilson) came with me, I played the song and everyone loved it. We didn’t record it for about a year because we had just signed with SBK. Charles Koppelman, who was the Chairman and CEO of the label, had four songs of ours and this was one of them. After listening to them, he said that we should go back to the drawing board because we didn’t have a first single. He also had us write with someone else even though we felt like Glen was the fourth member of our group.

Charles Koppelman called one day and said, “I don’t know what I was thinking. We will release ‘Hold On’ and you should definitely work with Glen Ballard.”

I remember wearing a baseball hat backwards in the studio. I didn’t have a lot of vocal training before joining Wilson Phillips and I didn’t have much opportunity to sing in the studio. A lot of my experience was singing the lead vocal on demos of songs that the Pointer Sisters threw in the trash can. So when we went in to do vocals on our record, I was very shaky. We were surrounded by “professional” singers and I found it very intimidating.

God let me sing this with clarity and purpose. My emotional struggle translated to the vocal. I feel like God channeled this song through me, not like I wrote it.

It’s resonated with so many people. When we did interviews at radio stations, people called in and said things from “I was going to take my life when this song came on and it saved me” to “I love listening to this song when I’m driving.”

It went on to be nominated for a Grammy for Song of the Year, which was very satisfying, and to selling several million singles before the album even came out, which was very unusual.

The video has been described as “the most beautiful travel brochure you’ve ever seen.” The first half was shot in Big Bear. We were at the very peak of the mountain, on a cliff. It was so cold that Wendy (Wilson) got hypothermia and was taken down on a stretcher. What was funny is that they were doing a special effect where I had to sing about 15 times faster than the actual track. It was a chipmunk version of myself and not easy to do. The second half of the video was shot in Venice Beach where the warm beautiful weather was a welcome relief.

I’ll forever be grateful for this song.

“Hold On”

I know there’s pain

Why do you lock yourself up in these chains?

No one can change your life except for you.

Don’t ever let anyone step all over you,

Just open your heart and your mind.

Is it really fair to feel this way inside?

Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to

Turn around and say goodbye.

Until then, baby, are you going to let them

Hold you down and make you cry?

Don’t you know?

Don’t you know things can change?

Things’ll go your way

If you hold on for one more day.

Can you hold on for one more day?

Things’ll go your way,

Hold on for one more day.

You could sustain

Or are you comfortable with the pain?

You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness.

You got yourself into your own mess

Lettin’ your worries pass you by.

Don’t you think it’s worth your time

To change your mind?

Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to

Turn around and say goodbye.

Until then, baby, are you going to let them

Hold you down and make you cry?

Don’t you know?

Don’t you know things can change?

Things’ll go your way

If you hold on for one more day.

Can you hold on for one more day?

Things’ll go your way,

Hold on for one more day.

I know that there is pain

But you hold on for one more day and

Break free the chains.

Yeah, I know that there is pain

But you hold on for one more day and you

Break free, break from the chains.

Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to

Turn around and say goodbye.

Until then baby are you going to let them

Hold you down and make you cry?

Don’t you know?

Don’t you know things can change?

Things’ll go your way

If you hold on for one more day, yeah,

If you hold on.

Don’t you know things can change?

Things’ll go your way

If you hold on for one more day,

If you hold on.

Can you hold on?

Hold on baby.

Won’t you tell me now?

Hold on for one more day

’Cause it’s gonna go your way.

Don’t you know things can change?

Things’ll go your way

If you hold on for one more day.

Can’t you change it this time?

Make up your mind.

Hold on

Hold on

Baby hold on…

Words and Music by Carnie Wilson, Chynna Phillips and Glen Ballard. © 1990 EMI BLACKWOOD MUSIC, INC., SMOOSHIE MUSIC, UNIVERSAL MUSIC CORP. and AEROSTATION CORPORATION. All Rights for SMOOSHIE MUSIC Controlled and Administered by EMI BLACKWOOD MUSIC INC. All Rights for AEROSTATION CORPORATION Controlled and Administered by UNIVERSAL MUSIC CORP. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Used by Permission.

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