This Is What Whitesnake's Biggest Hit Is Really About

Whitesnake's biggest hit, "Here I Go Again," is one of the first songs that comes to mind when reminiscing about those golden days of hair metal in the late '80s and early '90s. The band's only No. 1 hit, it topped the Billboard charts in October of 1987 and its video, featuring model/hair metal muse Tawny Kitaen performing exuberant flips and splits across the hoods of two Jaguars, remains an iconic symbol of its extremely specific time and place. However, despite the song's seemingly carefree lyrics about having the freedom to strike out independently and follow one's dreams, its origins and true meaning have a surprisingly dark back story.

Per We Are Classic Rockers, the version of the song that topped the charts in 1987 is the second version of the song; the first appeared on an earlier Whitesnake album, 1982's Saints and Sinners. In 2019, singer-songwriter David Coverdale spoke with Consequence of Sound about the song, sharing that he'd been inspired to write it by the end of his marriage to his first wife: "We just went from being the best of friends to not being the best of friends. And Here I Go Again was about that..." Lines like "like a drifter I was born to walk alone" sound a little different when you realize they are referring to ending a relationship and being alone as opposed to revelling in a solo adventure.

Here I Go Again... Again?

Despite the sadder than expected origins of "Here I Go Again," the song's video brought out a more joyous, fun-loving vibe. Coverdale revealed to CoS that model Claudia Schiffer was originally meant to star in the video. When that fell through, director Marty Kallner asked Coverdale to stop by and discuss the video. He and then-girlfriend Kitaen were on their way out to dinner, and stopped by together. When Kallner saw Kitaen, he insisted that she be cast as the "Whitesnake woman."

In more surprising "Here I Go Again" news, Paula Abdul was hired to teach Kitaen some choreography, but when she saw Kitaen's moves, she apparently reacted with, "I can't show her anything, David." Coverdale remembered: "It was so unusual to have a woman in a beautiful dress, doing cartwheels from a black Jag to a white Jag. It was fascinating. Nobody had that." 

Coverdale and Kitaen divorced in 1991, but Coverdale's affection for the "Here I Go Again" video lives on. In 2019, he made a video for a new song, "Shut Up And Kiss Me." Per a different CoS article, this lead to him saying "F*** it... why don't we get the Jag out?" The video features the original Jaguars that had been in storage for 30 years. Not wanting to mock his past, he insisted, "We cannot have people doing cartwheels. I don't want anything in this video looking like it's negating the joy and success of the 'Here I Go Again' video."