“Lou and I were really starting to work together as a writing unit,” Jones recalled, explaining how they wrote the basis for the song together in his apartment. “I had just bought a piano and Lou had a keyboard at his house and he was playing two-finger riffs – and it worked with me, because they were in the black keys, which I always wrote on anyway .” Blending Rawls’ formative chord ideas with Jones’ guitar eventually resulted in something that was recognizably theirs, and Head Games would soon become one of Foreigner’s greatest songs of all time.
“That’s really what we wanted, for it to have a bit of swagger”
Certainly the general public approved of where Foreigner was when head games was first released on September 10, 1979. With the help of two major US Top 20 hits – Head Games and the raunchy Dirty White Boy – the album peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum just four months after it first hit the shelves. It has since sold and sold five million copies in the United States alone. Ultimately, however, Mick Jones believes much of the record’s enduring appeal can be attributed to its inherent rawness.
“Everyone was pretty high on the incredible few years we’ve just had with the explosion of the band. So we were very into that and I think we kind of discussed that maybe we’d embrace a approach a little rougher on the head games album,” Jones explained. “It’s really sort of what we wanted, to have a little bit of swagger in it too… It was all exciting, but it was a conscious approach to simplify things a bit.”