Many of you likely think of “Rosanna” as a Toto hit. I can’t argue with that. As it happened though, I wrote this “Rosanna” and recorded it for my second Capitol Records album, “Tom Snow” (1976) seven years before David Paich wrote and won a “Record Of The Year” Grammy with his in 1983.  Doubtless a coincidence but, the core rhythm section for this and most of the other tracks consisted of me (piano), Jeff Porcaro (drums), David Paich (other keyboards), Wilton Felder (bass) and Fred Tacket (rhythm guitar).

We recorded at Sunset Sound, Studio B with Michael J. Jackson producing and John Haeny engineering. Contemporaneously, Jackson Browne was up front in Studio A recording his legendary album, “The Pretender”. We were both Sunset Sound residents for nearly six months straight, January through June.  (Jackson probably longer…)

After a while, Studio B felt like home. I’d arrive every evening around six to find Jeff tuning his drums, Wilton warming up on the bass, Fred playing various riffs on various stringed instruments (all stored in a huge Anvil case filled with every kind of strum-able, pluck-able thing known to man). We were all closely situated with each musician in his own, sound baffled cocoon. Still, we all had eye contact with one another. Jeff was to my left, David to my right, Wilton and Fred just across from the nose end of the grand piano. I still have this great image of Jeff’s mile wide, “I’m on a musical high” smile every time I looked over at him while we were tracking. He was an inspiration. What a spirit.

“Tom Snow” was my second and final record for Capitol. I had recently been on tour in support of my first, “Taking It All In Stride” (1975),  and was now back home and busy writing new material. My new producer, Michael Jackson (as in: Not The…) encouraged me to explore my “artistic” side and not worry about commercial viability. Flattering to me. Annoying to the label, no doubt.

“Rosanna” was one of those “automatic” writing experiences that rarely happen and generally follow days and days of teeth-pulling creative frustration while working under a deadline. Nothing, nothing, nothing….. then one day a torrent of melody and words flowing out of me about an imaginary girl named, Rosanna. It pretty much all happened within an hour’s time and felt something like the writing equivalent of… guessing here…Class VI river rapids. OK, so I’m exaggerating. But not by much.

Other notables on the track are: Stevie Nicks humming and wailing away on the choruses; Valerie Carter additional BG vocals; Billy Payne on Moog synthesizer; string arrangement by Marty & David Paich.This album was a very personal musical statement for me. It was also the end of my artist recording career. Capitol dropped me from the label that August. One month after the record’s release and two weeks prior to going on tour.

…and that’s why they call Sunset Boulevard: “The Boulevard Of Broken Deals.”

I sincerely hope you enjoy and/or find interesting, la prima “Rosanna” and thanks again for listening.

Yours in Words & Music,


PS- If you’re interested in hearing more you can access all nine tracks by clicking on the album cover art located on this site’s homepage. It will open up a player with all of the songs and musician credits.

(Please scroll down to below the lyric where you will find the magic golden eighth note that activates the music player.)


Rosanna, Rosanna

You walk into the room and I’m a helpless soul

I’m fumbling and I lose control

Rosanna, Rosanna

You scare me girl you tear me down

Like stage hands break a play’s last stand

I sing these words with diffidence

And know they make no difference

To you, who lives in confidence

But if they should by some great chance

I love you

And I feel like I’m going down

In a universe of silent sound and intense light

And the light’s too bright and the silence deafens me

When I call your name, and I call your name

Rosanna, Rosanna, Rosanna

You fill me so completely so

My life begins and ends with you

But you can’t see me, can you?

Oh, but I feel like I’m going down

In a universe of silent sound and intense light

And the light’s too bright and the silence deafens me

When I call your name, and I call your name

Rosanna, Rosanna, Rosanna

It’s a solitary passion play

That ends every time when you walk away

Rosanna, I love you







Click here to listen

13 Responses to “Rosanna”
  1. If this is how not to write a hit, the beauty of it speaks to not writing a hit! Lovely, Tom, simply lovely.

  2. Bobby DeSimone says:

    My Old Friend,

    This is what I call an: SSS, song!

    Eight bars in, I found myself saying…(with a smile) “So, So Snow!”

    Well done!


  3. Simioni says:

    Tommy Me Boy Good to hear from you. Again great music! I also went on your album and played again some of your past hits. If your getting any royalties from me doing this, you’ll get RICH! Ha. HIt em straight. Lou

  4. Mikey says:

    Nice stuff old bean!

  5. Wendy Dytman says:


    Wow! a really beautiful song…..was it never covered by anyone? I think a great song is one that not only has a memorable melody but also gives the singer something to connect with emotionally – and this song certainly does….thanks for introducing it to us….

  6. Doug Blackwell says:


    Great song. This is my first time hearing it. I am a big fan of yours. You may remember me using your LP as a demo disk during my many years at my audio store, db audio, in Berkeley.
    The song is wonderful, the music, the lyrics.

    • mrneige says:

      Thanks, Doug. Not only do I recall your email about using “Hungry Nights” as a demo disk in your audio store, I dine out on it. Thanks again for your kind remark and for listening. Cheers, Tom

  7. Tim McMullen says:

    By now, noting that I love this song probably goes without saying. It does, however, have some great elements worth acknowledging: the lovely piano turns; the intimate intensity of your voice; the soaring chorus with those great background vocals; the great arrangement and musicianship on the track; the end rhymed, internal rhymed, and unrhymed lines making it simultaneously poetic and conversational; and that wonderful three line addendum at the end.

    The only problem with posting this piece is that it takes it out of context. I know “Tom Snow” was not a “concept” album, but it was such a great album that every track led to the next; in other words, the album works like a brilliant musical set, not a bunch of isolated tracks—great pacing, nice variety, but a cohesive sound created by a veritable who’s who of incredible players.

    Before I read Patti’s comment, those were my exact sentiments (of course, they still are after having read them); the same with Bobby’s “SSS,” except I know this album so well, I recognize it after that first or second chord. Great stuff!

    • mrneige says:

      Hey Tim. Sorry for the late reply. I had another hand surgery done a week before you posted this lovely comment. This time the left hand. For various reasons the recovery has been a lot more difficult, hence more pain meds, brain fog etc… Always, always love reading your analyses. Man, why weren’t you the Editor in Chief of Rolling Stone or, better yet, the PD of a major chain of Radio Stations. Thanks again for listening and your contribution to the blog. Ever appreciated!

  8. Peter Lee says:

    Tom Snow,

    Thank you so much for sharing this song, it is beautiful. I am especially grateful for the story behind the recoding sessions as it gives me more insight into your life and your process. More story telling please… next time we hang.

    For me, it is so wonderful to be able to share parts of my life with you and your Family through these 30 plus years, it has been so fun to be a part of it all. I would like more of that too please.

    Hit’em long and straight.

    See you soon Brother.

    • mrneige says:

      Thanks, Peter. I’ll be putting up another song and story very soon. Trust all is well with you. And thanks for listening and responding! Always great to hear from you. Hope we catch sight of you sometime this summer. T

Leave A Comment

Sign up for my mailing list!