Richard Marx almost didn't record the unofficial Armed Forces anthem he wrote as a love song for his now-estranged wife, because he feared it was too simple to be a hit.

The singer/songwriter put pen to paper and wrote Right Here Waiting as an ode to his actress partner Cynthia Rhodes, while she was shooting Curse of the Crystal Eye on location in Africa - and he had no intention of releasing it publicly.

But then something at the back of his mind told him that the song would be a hit, and so he recorded it for his 1989 album Repeat Offender and released it as single. The tune not only hit the top of the charts around the world, but it has become an enduring anthem for family members missing loved ones serving overseas.

He tells the Los Angeles Times, "It's painfully simple. First of all, it's in the key of C, the simplest of all keys. There are no sharps or flats. And the meter of it, it's kind of slowly paced. It's so simple that I thought I must've been ripping something else off. But I haven't found it anywhere.

"I almost didn't (record it). The lyric felt too personal - it was a love letter to my girl, who at the time was shooting a movie in Africa. I made a little demo of it and sent it to her, and to me that was mission accomplished. But the songwriter and the businessman in me said, 'I'm gonna pitch this song'."

And he had some big-name feedback: "Right around that time Barbra Streisand had asked me to write her a song, so I sent it to her. Somewhere I still have the voice mail of her calling me back: 'Richard, it's Barbra. I got the song. It's gorgeous, but I'm gonna need you to rewrite the lyrics. I'm not gonna be right here waiting for anybody'."