I used to think that this song was called Borderline. I thought the chorus was “Borderline! Love isn’t always unkind!” Of course, the song actually goes, “Hold the line! Love isn’t always on time!,” which makes more sense.
When this song was recorded, “Hold the line” meant to stay in place. In this case, the lyrics were directed at a girl who was waiting for the lead singer to commit. Back in the days of landline phones, it was also something that you said to someone before putting them on hold so you could take another call. This song became Toto’s first hits and remains one of the band’s signature songs. When guitarist Steve Lukather finally disbanded Toto in 2009, he said it was because he no longer felt that he could continue to sing Hold the Line with a straight face.
Even before MTV actually became a thing, Toto was doing music videos. Their video for Hold the Line is a simple performance piece. It may not have cost much money but it still helped to bring the song to an audience that might have otherwise missed it.