- Superstar (Delaney and Bonnie song)
"Superstar" is a 1969 song written by
Bonnie Bramlett, Delaney Bramlett, and Leon Russell[ [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=33:09fixbealdfe "Superstar"] , "All Music Guide", retrieved on 2008-04-25] which has been a hit for many artists in different genres and interpretations in the years since; the best known version is by The Carpentersin 1971.
Original Delaney and Bonnie version
Accounts of the song's origin vary somewhat, but it grew out of the late 1969/early 1970 nexus of English and American musicians known as
Delaney, Bonnie & Friends, that involved Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, and various others. The song's working title during portions of its development was "Groupie Song".
In its first recorded incarnation, the song was called "Groupie (Superstar)", and was recorded and released as a
B-sideto the Delaney & Bonnie single "Comin' Home" in December 1969. Released by Atlantic Records, the full credit on the single was to Delaney & Bonnie and Friends Featuring Eric Clapton.
The song was about, as the title suggests, a
groupiewho holds a strong love for a rock star after a short sexual involvement. He has moved on to the next town, and despite his promises to see her again she can now only hear him on the radio. She is just left with the pure hopeless yearning of the chorus:
:"Don't you remember! You told me you loved me, baby":"You said you'd be coming back this way again, baby":"Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh, baby, I love you! I really do ..."
Delaney & Bonnie were not yet well known at the time, and "Comin' Home" only reached number 84 on the U.S. pop singles chart, although it achieved a peak of sixteen on the
UK Singles Chart.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen version
During the first half of 1970,
Joe Cocker's legendary Mad Dogs and Englishmen revue toured in the United States. Ex-Delaney and Bonnie vocalist Rita Coolidgewas a backup singeron this tour, and song co-writer Leon Russellwas the bandleader. Some accounts have Coolidge suggesting or inspiring the song's creation in the first place, and working with Bonnie Bramlett on her portion of the writing. In any case, Coolidge was given a featured vocal on the song during the tour; she took the verses with an air of resignation but the choruses with more anguish. The arrangement was fueled by Russell's evocative pianoline laced with dynamic fills, with understated horns, guitar, and choirbehind it.
In August 1970, the live album "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" was released, using performances recorded in March and June of that year. The song, now under the name "Superstar", appeared on it. The album became a huge hit, reaching number 2 on the Billboard pop albums chart and number 23 on the Billboard Black Albums chart. So it was on this album that people started becoming aware of the song. The performance helped vault Coolidge to greater visibility, especially when it was also included in the 1971 "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" film of the revue.
Bette Midler version
The unknown but very lively singer
Bette Midlerbegan making regular appearances on " The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson" in August 1970. During one such appearance, she sang "Superstar".
Later, once The Carpenters' version had become a hit, she sang it again on "The Tonight Show" in October 1971. Her recording of it then appeared on her 1972 debut album "The Divine Miss M".
Other early versions
Around September 1970,
Cherrecorded "Superstar" as her last single for Atco Records. Released in October or November 1970, and in the gap between Sonny and Cher's heyday and the start of Cher's solo successes, it did not chart. After the song became better known, a concert performance of it was included in the 1973 " Sonny & Cher In Las Vegas, Volume 2".
Next up was Australian singer
Colleen Hewett's recording of "Superstar", which was released by May 1971 and became a moderate hit in Australia.
Name = Superstar
Caption = Cover to the Carpenters' hit single, "Superstar"
from Album = Carpenters
B-side = "Bless the Beasts and Children"
August 12, 1971
Recorded = Early
Genre = Pop
Length = 03:46
Leon Russell, Bonnie Bramlett, Delaney Bramlett
Producer = Jack Daugherty
Last single = "
Rainy Days and Mondays" (1971)
This single = "Superstar" (1971)
Next single = "Bless the Beasts and Children" (1971)
Misc = Extra tracklisting
Album = Carpenters
Type = studio
Tracks = ;Side one
Rainy Days and Mondays"
# "Let Me Be the One"
# "(A Place to) Hideaway"
# "For All We Know";Side two
# "Druscilla Penny"
# "One Love"
# "Bacharach/David Medley"
"Superstar" became its biggest hit version for the Carpenters. Richard Carpenter was unaware of the Bramlett or Mad Dogs originals, but as he later wrote in a compilation album's liner notes: "I came home from the studio one night and heard a then relatively unknown Bette Midler performing this song on the "Tonight Show". I could barely wait to arrange and record it. (It remains one of my favorites)."
Carpenter's arrangement featured an
oboeline at the start, followed by Karen Carpenter's clear contraltovoice set against a quiet bass linein the verses, which then built up to up-tempo choruses with a quasi-orchestral use of horns and strings. Produced by Richard with Jack Daugherty, it was recorded with members of the famed Los Angeles session musicians The Wrecking Crew. It is said that Karen Carpenter recorded her vocal in just one take, using lyrics scribbled on a napkin. Since the song's subject was more risqué than usual for the clean-cut image of the Carpenters, Richard changed a lyric in the second verse [cite news |first=Johnny |last=Black |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=The Greatest Songs Ever! Superstar
url=http://www.blender.com/guide/articles.aspx?id=826 |work=Blender |publisher= |date=October 2002 |accessdate=2008-02-19] from:
:"And I can hardly wait:"To sleep with you again
To the somewhat less suggestive:
:"And I can hardly wait:"To be with you again.
The duo's rendition was included on the May 1971 album "Carpenters", and then released as a single in September 1971. It rose to number 2 on the
Billboard Hot 100pop singles chart that autumn and earned gold recordstatus. It also reached number 18 on the UK pop singles chart and did well in Australia and New Zealandas well.
Richard Carpenter would be nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist for his efforts. "Superstar" would go on to appear on two mid-1970s Carpenters live albums as well as innumerable compilation albums.
It appeared on the Carpenters' 2004 SACD compilation, "The Singles: 1969-1981" (not to be confused with the regular CD, '), as a remix of the original 1973 mix on the similarly titled compilation '.
In the 1995 comedy film "
Tommy Boy", David Spade's character and Chris Farley's character argue over what music to listen to on the radio (Farley prefers heavy metal; Spade prefers more modern rock) when they stumble upon this song. Both insist that the other should turn to another station if the song offends them; in the next scene both of them are loudly singing the song's chorus. The song was also used in the 2007 movie, " The Ghost Rider", with Nicolas Cageas the Ghost Rider. In the movie, Donal Loguetries to turn off "Superstar", when Cage defends the song and states that nobody messes with Karen Carpenter. On the "Ghost Rider" official soundtrack, a song is entitled "A Thing for Karen Carpenter."
Back to Bonnie
The original Delaney and Bonnie version would finally surface on an album in 1972 when "
D&B Together" and "The Best of Delaney & Bonnie" were released, around the time that their marriage and collaboration ended. It also was included as a bonus track on a 2006 reissue of the 1970 album "Eric Clapton".
Bonnie Bramlett would later re-record the song on her 2002 solo album "I'm Still the Same". Now using just the "Superstar" title, she did it as a very slow,
piano-based torch song.
Luther Vandross version
In the early 1980s American R&B singer
Luther Vandrosshad "Superstar" in his stage act, sometimes in a rendition that stretched out at nearly six minutes, with vocal interpolations, an interpretive dancer, and plenty of swaying and swooning females in the audience.
Vandross then recorded "Superstar" in 1983 in a slower, more soulful fashion, as part of a medley with "
Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" on his album " Busy Body". Released as a single the following year, it became an R&B hit, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Top R&B Singles chart. It did not have much pop crossover effect, however, only reaching number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100.
This was the first prominent version by a male singer, and by now the original "groupie" association was far gone. Instead, the song was presented as a tale of universal longing.
Ruben Studdard version
American Idol" contestant Ruben Studdardfound his melismatic, R&B groove early in the Final 12 rounds when he performed a Vandross-influenced "Superstar". It got rave reviews from the judges and established Studdard as one of the early leaders in the competition, a position he held until winning the title in May 2003 in a close battle against Clay Aiken.
By now his
signature song, Studdard recorded "Superstar" as the B-side of his June 2003 first single and number two hit, " Flying Without Wings". Studdard would earn a Grammy Awardnomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performancefor "Superstar", but lose out to his idol Vandross. Studdard's treatment was also included on his December 2003 debut album "Soulful".
Other later versions
In addition to those mentioned earlier, "Superstar" has been recorded by:
American Spring(a group consisting of Brian Wilson's wife and sister-in-law) on their "Spring" album in 1972.
Elkie Brooks, on her million-selling 1981 album "Pearls"; it then became a staple of her live sets and a strong fan favorite.
Sonic Youth, who always found unlikely inspiration from the Carpenters, [cite news | url=http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070812/ART10/70811056 | title=Sonic Youth broke new ground with ‘Daydream Nation’ | author=Christopher Borrelli | publisher="The Blade" | date=2007-08-12 | accessdate=2008-02-27] on the 1994 tribute album "If I Were a Carpenter", and later on the soundtrack for the 2007 film "Juno". It was also featured in the film " The Frighteners" and in the theatrical trailer for "High Tension". It also appeared in professioal skateboarder Jerry Hsu's part in Bag of Suck, the critically acclaimed skateboarding video by Enjoiwhich won Transworld awards for both best video and best video part (Hsu's).
*English trance singer
Jan Johnstonin the early 2000s.
*Dogstar, a rock band best known for their bass guitarist, actor
Keanu Reeves, covered the song on their 2000 album "Happy Ending".
*On the soundrack of the movie
Wayne's World 2, a band called Superfan is covering Superstar. Superfan is a collective including Chrissie Hynde(from the Pretenders) on vocals and the musicians from Urge Overkill.
*Punk cover specialists
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, on 2004's " Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah"; the original lyrics were set to the main riff from The Adolescents' "Kids of the Black Hole".
*Usher's homage to the now-late Vandross' version, on the 2005 "" album, for which he received a Grammy nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
*various other contestants on "American Idol" and other 2000s singing contest shows such as "
New Zealand Idol", " Philippine Idol", and "The X Factor"; the song's licensing is clearly favorable, and the chance for singers to emote on the chorus seems irresistible.
Raquel Welchperformed the song with John Belushi(as Joe Cocker) on the April 24, 1976broadcast of " Saturday Night Live".
Confused with ...
Because the song's title does not appear in its lyric, people sometimes do not associate the two, and get confused. The song's first line, "Long ago and oh so far away", lends itself to a mixup with two other songs of the same era,
James Taylor's "Long Ago and Far Away" (from his 1971 album " Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon") and Carole King's "So Far Away" (from her 1971 album "Tapestry"). In the opposite direction, the title is sometimes confused with "Superstar", an unrelated song from the late 1970 rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar".
* [http://www.blender.com/guide/articles.aspx?id=826 October 2002 "Blender" magazine article by Johnny Black]
* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:qyj9keft7q79 All Music Guide discussion of song's origins]
* [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000541/filmoyear IMDB listing of Bette Midler television appearances]
* [http://www.poparchives.com.au/feature.php?id=388 Australian PopArchives entry]
* [http://www.abc.net.au/rage/guest/2003/retro4.htm Australian Countdown entry]
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