I was kicking this idea around for an SLS prompt, but then decided not to take part in those prompts any more. So I had a few ideas “up the spout” and decided to give them an airing anyway as they are good tunes in their own right. This one was responsible for changing my view of Elton John. It was organised by Dionne Warwick, and the artists on the actual single were listed just as Dionne and Friends. “Friends” included Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Elton John.
Dionne, Gladys and Stevie were already music legends in my book, but I never cared much for Elton’s music. I still don’t, if I’m honest, but this song sold him to me as a human being, something far bigger than just music. To get on board with something like this is the mark of a good man.
This song was originally written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, and originally recorded by Rod Stewart in 1982. However it got far more attention when it was covered by Dionne and Friends in late 1985. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1986, then subsequently topped the year-end chart for 1986. It also topped the charts in Canada and Australia, although only reached #16 in the UK.
Not finished yet. The song won a Grammy for the artists, was voted Song of the Year for the writers, and came in at #75 on Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time.
This song was released as a one-off charity single to help the American Foundation for AIDS Research, for whom it raised more than $3 million (more than $7 million today). The song is pleasant enough, but the cause was significant. I know this is only a song, and that AIDS research was a cause celebre at the time, just one of many good causes… But to see people rallying round to help other people makes me think somehow that the world is spinning in the right direction. We will say the same about COVID, one day. This is That’s What Friends Are For.