Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Eddie Rabbitt, “Drivin’ My Life Away”

“Drivin’ My Life Away”

Eddie Rabbitt

Written by David Malloy, Eddie Rabbitt, and Even Stevens

Radio & Records

#1 (4 weeks)

August 8 – August 29, 1980


#1 (1 week)

August 23, 1980

Eddie Rabbit kicked off a string of five consecutive No. 1 hits with “Gone Too Far.”  With the second single in that run, he also visited the top five of the pop chart for the first time.

Rabbitt was no stranger to crossover success before “Drivin’ My Life Away.”  He’d made it to No. 13 on the Hot 100 with “Suspicions” one year earlier. But “Drivin’ My Life Away” launched his career into a higher gear, fusing elements of rockabilly, cosmopolitan country, and contemporary pop into an irresistible uptempo number that practically demands you to hit the gas, roll down the window, and crank it up to eleven.

It is exceedingly difficult to do pop music well, and it’s to Rabbitt’s credit that he makes it sound so effortless as he delivers rapid fire lyrics over a persistent beat.  42 years after its release, it’s not the least bit dated, even if can easily be dated to the early eighties, as it’s one of the most essential country crossover hits of its time.

This is the first of four top ten hits for him on the pop chart, and all of them topped the country charts as well.  His next single is his first and only one to top the Hot 100.

“Drivin’ My Life Away” gets an A. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. A classic! A constant on my year end wrapped playlist. Funnily enough, this year a cover by Rhett Akins actually got more plays then the original. I think it was from a soundtrack. Quite good if you haven’t heard it

  2. I liked this one much better than I Love A Rainy Night. It’s quite a toe tapper.

    If I remember correctly, it was from a movie called Roadies that starred rock singer Meatloaf.

    So glad you said it was not dated at all since its release. It really is a timeless song and Rabbitt did a very flawless job with it. Glad it received an A.

  3. Eddie certainly had a fair amount of expertise at this kind of crossover success even before this. His first crossover hit was in late 1978/early 1979 with “Every Which Way But Loose” (#1 country/#30 pop), and his early songwriting effort “Kentucky Rain” was one of Elvis’ best latter-day hits, reaching #16 on the Hot 100 in March 1970 for The King.

    But this particular hit was, how shall we say, ubiquitous on both sides of the pop/country radio fence for most of the second half of 1980 in a very good way (IMHO), which tells you something about how you could balance the two disparate styles and not sound like you’re pandering, which I think too many country artists have tried to do in this century.

  4. This song does have a timelessness to it. Everything from the instrumentation to the vocals to the overall production remain vital and alive. Just like the late nineties, when pop-country was the leading edge of growth and experimentation, pop country in the early eighties is “driving” the genre’s maturation and reach into non-traditional audiences.

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