Saturday, 10 September 2016

Odd Songs #004: You're Moving Out Today

Carole Bayer Sager's only real solo hit single:

"You're moving out today" - number six in the UK charts in 1977.  Got to number one in Australia (and number 30 in New Zealand, although given the population of NZ, that probably didn't take many sales), but curiously didn't dent the US charts.

It's another of those sort-of one-off songs that I find fascinating.  Whilst Carole Bayer Sager was a prolific songwriter for others and produced loads of hits (mainly US-based, but many worldwide (most notably she was co-writer of "Nobody Does It Better" from "The Spy Who Loved Me" and won the Academy Award for "Arthur's Theme" in 1981).  She's played a part in writing successful songs for artists like Lesley Gore, The Monkees, Shirley Bassey, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Dusty Springfield, Leo Sayer, Carly Simon, The Corrs, etc. etc. (actually it would probably be quicker to list the artists she hasn't written for).

Given all that, I always thought it strange that this was her only real solo hit single.  Plenty of albums, but she barely released any singles.  Maybe she didn't like performing?  Odd if so, because I think her performance of this is brilliant; as much acting as singing, perfect timing and all that.

Specifically this one was a co-write with Bruce Roberts and - possibly crucially - Bette Midler.

Musically, I think the song itself is great - a very unusual arrangement, with seemingly random and abrupt changes in tempo and character, all that sort of thing. Even the backing vocals are perfectly pitched; there's question-and-answer stuff, there's conventional harmonies, there's abrupt switches from lead to backing and back and the interpolation of a bit of Little Richard's "The Girl Can't Help It" towards the end is genius; something for everyone!

Although Bayer-Sager typically did the lyrics in her co-written stuff (well you would if your collaborators were people like Marvin Hamlisch and Burt Bacharach, I guess), I've a strong feeling that it might be the Bette Midler connection here that makes things start to fall into place.  It's a very funny lyric.  There's some vaguely risque stuff in there - e.g. "your nasty habits ain't confined to bed/the grocer told me what you do with bread" (surely a barely-concealed reference to the unusual sexual practise of men fucking inanimate objects?) and I wonder whether that was the reason it didn't do much in America?

I could go on and on about this song.   But I'll spare you that for now.

Although if anyone can tell me another song that references "Mozambique" in its lyric (that isn't the Bob Dylan song), I'll be well impressed.

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