Monday, July 7, 2008

A Message To Barry Manilow?

By the time singer Carole Bayer Sager had her one and only number one hit in 1977 with ‘You’re Moving Out Today’, she was already a well established and phenomenally successful songwriter, primarily as a lyricist. She first started writing songs whilst attending New York’s High School of Music and Art during the early 60s. By 1966 she was a staff writer with the Screen Gems publishing company and had co-written her first major hit ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ recorded by the Mindbenders. She co-wrote several songs for the Monkees in the late 60s, then co-wrote the musical ‘Georgy’ in 1970. Sager then wrote ‘Midnight Blue’ for singer Melissa Manchester, who took the song into the U.S. top 10 in 1975 (she would later co-write another big hit for Manchester in ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud’).

By 1977 Carole Bayer Sager was ready to make the move from songwriter to performer. She released her self titled album which featured the song ‘You’re Moving Out Today’. The song was a massive hit in Britain (#6), but its success in Australia dwarfed that achievement. ‘You’re Moving Out Today’ debuted in July 1977 and peaked at #1 in September, spending 4 weeks atop the charts and 24 weeks in total inside the top 100. Given Sager’s hit making pedigree, it was surprising the song wasn’t a big hit in the U.S., where it only reached #69. The explanation behind that is probably that it’s because the song had already been recorded by co-writer Bette Midler whose version was released six months earlier and had reached #42. Sager’s version was released as a single in the U.S. on the back of its colossal sales overseas. Her debut album sold didn’t rack up big sales in America but again performed exceptionally well in Australia (#4). The album yielded two more minor hits in Australia; ‘Don’t Wish Too Hard’ (#82) and ‘I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love’ (#98).

The follow up album ‘Too’ flirted with the charts soon after but Sager returned to her forte as a song lyricist to much greater acclaim. With then husband Marvin Hamlisch, she co-wrote the song ‘Nobody Does It Better’, taken from the Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ it was a #1 hit for Carly Simon late in 1977.

Sager enjoyed her biggest U.S. hit in 1981 with the single ‘Stronger Than Before’ which peaked at #30 and featured on her third album ‘Sometimes Late At Night’. But again her success as a performer was fleeting though Carole Bayer Sager continued to write hit songs through the 80s and beyond. One of her best known is the Christopher Cross #1 from 1981 ‘Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)’, co-written with Peter Allen, Christopher Cross and long time collaborator Burt Bacharach, who she was married to from 1982 to 1991. They also wrote ‘That’s What Friends Are For’ which went to #1 for Dionne Warwick & Friends in 1985. Following her divorce from Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager’s profile faded somewhat though she continued to contribute regularly to movie soundtracks, and her songs have been recorded by the likes of the Corrs and Celine Dion.

What makes the song ‘You’re Moving Out Today’ interesting to me - apart from the fact that it was a very agreeable tune - are the brilliantly acerbic lyrics. It’s obviously a strong message to someone, basically telling them to gather up there stuff and get the hell out. Years ago I heard by word of mouth a rumour that the song was inspired by Barry Manilow who was a good friend of to the songs co-writer Bette Midler, the two of them having worked and shared a place together in New York in the early 70s. Honestly I haven’t ever read anything in print or heard confirmation of that but it’s a fun theory to entertain, and it’s a fun song!

No comments: