“I Wanna Dance With You” represented something of a comeback for Eddie Rabbitt as a songwriter. By the time the tune was recorded and released, Eddie hadn’t written a chart-topping song in three years.
The death of his young son, Timmy, had caused Rabbitt to pull away from his work and concentrate more on the family. Once he and wife Janine had another (healthy) son, Tommy, in 1986, Eddie was ready to re-devote his attention to music once more.
Actually, Rabbitt hadn’t fared too badly in the interim. Albums “The Best Year Of My Life” and “Rabbitt Trax” yielded a total of two number one singles and three more Top Ten records. He experimented on “Rabbitt Trax” in particular, recording side two in New York with producer Phil Ramone, noted for his work with pop superstars Billy Joel and Paul Simon. Eddie cut side one with Juice Newton’s producer Richard Landis, who stayed with Rabbitt through the next album as well.
Coming out of his personal depression, “I Wanna Dance With You” demonstrated Rabbitt’s re-discovered energy for music. He composed it with guitar player Billy Joe Walker, Jr. at the studio console during a recording session. Eddie fashioned the storyline, as he remembered a dance he had attended in his youth, at which an unattractive and overweight girl was sitting alone and not being asked to dance. So Eddie asked her and it made her whole night, and made him very happy, too. With that long ago event in mind, he composed “I Wanna Dance With You.” The record became Rabbitt’s 15th of his seventeen number one hits 33 years ago today, on April 16, 1988.