Thirty-five years ago today — May 26, 1987 — Richard Marx released his debut single, “Don’t Mean Nothing.” It hit #3, earned him a Grammy nomination and launched a career that’s still going today. Richard tells ABC Audio that while he’d never say the song is his favorite, it does occupy a very special place in his heart.
“It’s the most important song. Because the question I’ve been getting for 30, however many years that I’ve been doing this, [is] ‘What’s your favorite song you’ve ever written?’ And there’s no answer to that,” he says.
As Richard notes, “I could never pick a favorite song I’ve written. But I did realize in the last couple of years, performing night after night after night, that if I hadn’t written ‘Don’t Mean Nothing’ … [I] probably wouldn’t be standing on that stage.”
As Richard details in his 2021 memoir Stories to Tell, “Don’t Mean Nothing” was inspired by his struggles in the music industry and by Hollywood in general. It also featured harmonies and guitar work from three members of The Eagles: Randy Meisner, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh.
“I cherish it. I also still love it,” Richard says of the song. “I mean, all humility aside, I just love ‘Don’t Mean Nothing’ and I love singing it. It still holds up for me, is a really good song.”
He laughs as he remembers, “I wrote this very cynical, biting lyric about frustration and being led down horrible paths and being lied to and this song that just drips of cynicism … and I wrote it when I was 22!”
And today, it’s still a centerpiece of his concerts.
“I’ve never done a show where I haven’t played it,” he says. “And I’ve never done that song where I didn’t see people smiling and dancing and into it.”