Who is Exile anyway? Well, in case you haven’t heard of them before, Exile is a band that started way back in 1963 in the US and became well-known as a rock band in the 70s when their biggest hit single was “Kiss You All Over” in 1978. Following numerous lineup changes, Exile was relaunched as a country act, achieving even more success in the 80s and 90s.
The members were (in alphabetical order, not order of importance to the group) Steve Goetzman, Marlon Hargis, Sonny LeMaire, J.P. Pennington, and Les Taylor, although there were a number of past members, including Jimmy Stokley, Mark Gray, Steve Richmond, and a very long list of others. Today, only Pennington remains from all of the original members of Exile. So, in honor of all the past and present members, here’s our list of the 10 best songs by Exile:
1. “Kiss You All Over” by Exile is Called a True “Sex-Jam” (1978)
This song is sometimes called a song with no genre, which is actually something that often happened when it comes to ’70s hits. They end up being strange concoctions that might conceivably fit into any one of a dozen radio formats. According to Stereogum, “Kiss You All Over” has also been called a “sex-jam” that lands somewhere around halfway in-between disco and soft rock.
But, in fact, it was recorded by a band from Kentucky that later became major country stars. And, this particular hit song became a #1 single in the US and was actually the band’s only major pop market hit although they saw great success later on the country music charts. “Kiss You All Over” was #1 for four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, and was also ranked #5 for the entire year of 1978.
2. “It’ll Be Me” by Exile Reached #1 (1986)
This song is all about loyalty and devotion and “It’ll Be Me” hit #1 in 1986 on the Country charts and was released that July as Exile’s fourth single from their album entitled “Hang On to Your Heart”. It was also the band’s 7th #1 country single. It was written by J.P. Pennington and Sonny LeMaire and spent 15 weeks on the country charts, which was definitely a pretty good run.
3. “Hang On To Your Heart” by Exile is a Powerful Ballad (1985)
Here’s another great #1 Exile song and it’s a powerful ballad about the importance of holding onto those people and things that are important to you, especially in times of trouble. It reflects on a time when they were going through a difficult period in their lives, but were able to get through it all because they had someone to lean on. The chorus encourages you to “hang on to your heart” and never give up even when things get tough.
4. “I Don’t Want To Be A Memory” by Exile Was Their 2nd #1 Single (1984)
“I Don’t Want To Be A Memory” shot to the top of the 1984 country charts as the band’s second #1 single. It’s about the fear of being forgotten and reflecting on a relationship that’s ended. The chorus expresses that fear in a simple yet powerful way with “I don’t want to be a memory……..want to be a part of you….want to be the one you think of when you’re feeling blue.”
5. “Give Me One More Chance” by Exile (1984)
This is a song about someone simply begging his lover for a second chance after making some big past mistakes but now being willing to do whatever it might take to win back her heart. It was produced by Buddy Killen and written by J.P. Pennington and Sonny Lemaire and reached #24 on the country charts back in 1984.
6. “Woke Up In Love” by Exile is a Feel-Good Song (1984)
This Exile song only reached #34 on the country charts but it was actually quite popular with Exile fans. It was written by James Pennington and is all about the feeling of being in love and all of the joy that it brings to your life by describing the feeling of waking up next to the person you love and feeling like you’re in a dream. The lyrics are filled with imagery that evokes a sense of happiness and joy describing the person they love as “the light of my life” and how you just can’t stop smiling when you’re with the person you love. Basically, it’s a feel-good song that’s sure to put a smile on your face.
7. “She’s A Miracle” by Exile is About Feeling Lucky to Be in Love (1985)
This is a song that’s simply about one’s love for their partner and how lucky it is to have your partner’s love and support, as well as how they’re always there to catch you if you stumble and fall. It says that you really don’t need fame or any good luck charms because you already have your partner who shines like a star and touches your soul. The song’s lyrics describe one’s partner’s smile as being “like sunshine on a cloudy day.” It personifies the power of love with a beautiful message of hope and inspiration, resonating with anybody who’s ever felt lucky to be in love, and it reached #38 on the country charts in 1985.
8. “She’s Too Good To Be True” by Exile Hit #30 on the Charts (1987)
This was another great 80s Exile hit about loving a woman who just seems too perfect to be real, evoking a kind of a sense of disbelief and wonder. Will he wake up one day and discover that she was just a dream? It reached #30 on the country charts and was written (again) by lyricists Lemaire and Pennington and produced by Buddy Killen For Tree Productions.
9. “Crazy For Your Love” by Exile Captures Your Heart (1986)
This Exile song’s message of passion and obsession is one that’s sure to capture your heart as it involves an overwhelming love for someone and just being so in love that you’re literally “crazy” for the person like in the title. You feel like you’re “floating on air” and can’t even think straight when you’re around the person. We’ve all been there at one time or another and this song manages to bring all of those feelings flooding back and transporting you to when you were once head over heels in love yourself. It was produced by Buddy Killen and written by Pennington and Lemaire, of course, reaching #52 on the country charts.
10. “Nobody’s Talking” by Exile is All About Loneliness (1990)
This is a really sad song about the isolation and loneliness that comes with being a celebrity. It’s sung from the place of a famous musician who’s constantly on the road and feels like he just doesn’t have anybody to talk to. He’s all alone in the world like “a prisoner in my own home.” and “a stranger in a strange land”, “living in a fishbowl”, and unable to escape the spotlight. Although a great sad song (as sad songs go), it only reached #43 on the country music charts in 1990.
Some say (and you might even agree) that Exile was absolutely one of the best bands of the 80s. They not only wrote songs that other well-known performers sang but they also sang their own stuff as well. And, many fans still say that “Exile was country in the ’80s!”
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