Skip to main content

Darren Hayes Talks Savage Garden’s ‘Truly’ Big AC No. 1

Billboard caught up with the Australian pop singer/songwriter to talk about the success of "Truly Madly Deeply" and more.

In the 50-year history of Billboard’s Adult Contemporary songs chart, which launched July 17, 1961, no other single is bigger than Savage Garden‘s “Truly Madly Deeply.”

The 1998 hit from the pop duo ranks at No. 1 on the all-time top 50 AC songs list, besting the likes of the Bee Gees‘ “How Deep Is Your Love” (No. 13), Enrique Iglesias‘ “Hero” (No. 9) and Louis Armstrong‘s “Hello Dolly!” (No. 6).

The Top 100 Adult Contemporary Songs Ever

“Truly” spent 11 weeks atop Adult Contemporary and a staggering 123 weeks on the list, 58 of those in the top 10.

Although Savage Garden, comprised of Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones, disbanded in 2001, both members continue their own individual music careers. While Jones now stays mostly behind the scenes, writing and producing for other artists, Hayes has released three studio albums and will soon issue his fourth proper set, “Secret Codes and Battleships,” due in October via Mercury Records Australia. The effort’s first single, “Talk Talk Talk,” was just released to digital retailers globally.

We caught up with Hayes to talk about the success of “Truly Madly Deeply,” the history of the song and more.

Billboard: How does it feel knowing “Truly Madly Deeply” is the No. 1 Adult Contemporary single of all time?

Darren Hayes: I’m completely overwhelmed to be honest. I feel incredibly proud. That song changed my life and apparently continues to do so!

Billboard: How did the song come together? I read somewhere it was actually a reworking of an older song of yours.

Hayes: “Truly Madly Deeply” was originally a slightly different song that Daniel Jones and I had written and recorded on our first-ever demo cassette that we shopped to labels back in 1994.

The verses were exactly the same, but I’m rather embarrassed to admit the chorus did not exist. Instead, I’d written a rather awful lyric about magical kisses!

There was always something incredibly magical about the song, however, and when it reached the ears of producer Charles Fisher, who produced the first Savage Garden album, he proclaimed it to be a potential hit.

It sat on the bottom of the pile of our demos for the entire eight month recording process until the eve of the last day. I sat alone, at the Bayswater Cafe in Sydney, and completely re-wrote the chorus you hear today over a cup of coffee. I sang it the next day and the rest is history.

Billboard: Were you surprised at the single’s success? It was No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary charts.

Hayes: Truthfully, I famously thought it was too personal and too private to be a single. At one point, I’d suggested it be a hidden or extra track on the album. I was, of course, laughed out of the studio. But then I’ve never been good at picking singles!

Billboard: The song continues to be played hundreds of times a week on U.S. radio stations. What do you think it is about “Truly” that continues to resonate with audiences?

Hayes: All I can tell you is that I was in love and missing my love so much it hurt when I wrote the lyrics. I remember thinking there must have been something in the DNA of the song that anyone in love can relate to. It’s simple, incredibly simple melodically. Yet, it’s kind of timeless.

I don’t know what the formula is, suffice to say it came from a very real place and sometimes that speaks volumes.

Billboard: Are you and Daniel Jones still in touch?

Hayes: We’re not really in touch, though there are no hard feelings. He chose a different path and I continue blazing on.

Billboard: When can we expect to see you back in America promoting your new album, “Secret Codes and Battleships?”

Hayes: My new album will be released in October this year and its first single (“Talk Talk Talk”) has literally only just gone to radio in the U.K. and Australia.

I adore America, I lived there for seven of the best years of my life. It is always my intention to return with music.