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After 20 years of Extreme, love is still "More Than Words"

Extreme's biggest hit, "More Than Words" is one of those songs created in the 1980s that, after two decades, lyrically still rings true today

By Carol Anne Szel

Extreme's biggest hit, "More Than Words" is one of those songs created in the 1980s that, after over two decades, lyrically still rings true today. Showing love is indeed much more than words, more than can be contained. More than an uttering of speech. As lyricists have penned for generations and generations, love is the all illusive element. It is what is yearned for but rarely truly known.

And as Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettancourt brought forth to the public in 1990 with their chart breaking and heart tugging song "More Than Words" from Extreme's second album "Pornograffitti," apparently millions of music lovers from around the world related as well. "More Than Words" landed at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100, eventually also bringing the album to multi-Platinum status along as well.

A song they played live in concert years before it's release, and a song that Extreme wrote before they finished their debut release, in fact, and chose not to include in it. I remember knowing Gary before their first album was out, wondering and waiting the destiny of his first release. And in fact their debut album "Extreme" made a moderate showing in the then long-haired-metal-wannabe music scene of the 1980s. Quickly pushing out their next release, "Pornograffiti," the band knew it was do-or-die with the record label, as there were so many young bands beating down the label doors — and breathing down the necks of new artists everywhere along the Sunset Strip scene. (Even though — Cherone would kill me if I was remiss in mentioning — Extreme is and always has been a Boston-based band who still has their feet planted firmly on the ground there today.)

With only three or four friends gathered on the set of the video shoot for "More Than Words" all those years ago, I remember sitting in the tiny dressing room with Gary having a talk about the harsh reality that if "More Than Words" did not produce for the band, he was done. Not for sales, not for the label, not for the 'business' of music. But because of his love for the song. His passion for the words. His honestly with the feelings he penned. It was quiet in that moment. He was sincere. As humbling as the emotions evoked by listening. As sincere at the lyrics of the song that, ironically, said it all. Love is truly "More Than Words."

For related items that you may enjoy in our Goldmine store:
• Get a Goldmine digital back issue of one of our Whitesnake cover stories (August 15, 2008). How '80s is that!

• Or check out a fun book on pop music: "The Everything Pop Culture Crosswords Book, Test your knowledge of trivia and trends with 150 pop culture puzzles!"
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