Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Songoftheday 11/22/16 - Look at this face I know the years are showing, look at this life I still don't know where it's going...

"Don't Know Much" - Linda Ronstadt with Aaron Neville
from the album Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #2 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 16

Today's song of the day comes from songstress Linda Ronstadt, who had transformed from the hip rock chick of the 70s that converted oldies to fresh radio hits to the soft-pop siren of the 80s, as encaptured in her trilogy of standards albums and her huge hit from spring of 1987, "Somewhere Out There". That single from the animated movie An American Tail paired her with rising soul singer James Ingram, and took her to just missing the top of the pop chart by a notch at #2. She also dabbled in other genres, with her excellent country music collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris on the original Trio album in 1987, and then her "back to my roots" heritage set Canciones de Mi Padre later that year. Two years later, Linda returned to pop music with the release of her sixteenth solo studio album Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind. On four of the songs on the album she was joined by veteran R&B singer Aaron Neville. Neville, who had reached #2 with "Tell It Like It Is" way back in 1966, hadn't been on the pop chart since 1967. With his emotional high tenor providing a different kind of tone to the duets, it provided for a richer listen for those fans of softer rock music. The first single, "Don't Know Much", was a by-the-book love ballad from writers Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Tom Snow, but the pair sold it like it was Oscar night. Mind you, in the early post-Reagan years, it still raised eyes for a mixed race love pairing (even if just in song)...


"Don't Know Much" also climbed all the way to the runner-up spot on the American pop chart in December of 1989. And like "Somewhere Out There", the single topped Billboard's Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart. Internationally, the song went to #1 in Ireland, #2 in the UK and Australia, and hit the top ten in Austria (#3), New Zealand (#4), Belgium (#4), Canada (#5), and the Netherlands (#6). The record would earn the pair a Grammy for best Pop Vocal Performance from a Duo or a Group, but lost Song of the Year in 1990 to Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings".

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Song co-writer Barry Mann originally put out the classic on his own album Barry Mann in 1980...


In 1981, former "Righteous Brother" Bill Medley had the first successful version of the song, reaching #29 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart and spending a month on the pop list peaking at #88...


Two years later, Bette Midler (who coincidentally beat this for Song of the Year) also covered the track on her No Frills album as "All I Need To Know", and got to #39 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #77 on the Hot 100 pop chart...


Here's Linda and Aaron performing live (yes, live) on Top Of The Pops in 1989...


...and again from 1990 (I think this is from the Grammys...)


Up tomorrow: A "gone-gone girl" waits up for you.

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