Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Heartlight" by Neil Diamond

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1177
Date:  09/11/1982
Debut:  69
Peak:  5
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  E.T. mania was in full swing at this time with the film ("E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial") still at or near the top of the box office chart and related products crowding the shelves. It seemed most everyone loved the film and that included Diamond who saw a screening of it with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. The trio were so moved by the film that afterwards they wrote this song that would become the title track to Diamond's latest LP. The timing of the release was just about perfect and the song rode the mania wave right into the Top 10. It would also spend four weeks at #1 on the AC chart. The single would be Diamond's final pop Top 10 and last AC #1. The album also did well going to #9. It would be his last non-holiday studio album to reach the Top 10 until 2005.

ReduxReview:  Since over half the album was written by Diamond, Bacharach, and Bayer-Sager, I can only assume this album was already in process when they saw "E.T." and wrote the song. I'm sure Diamond is very thankful it did because the other singles from the LP tanked. His pop career was already in decline so not having this timely single would probably have meant disaster. But the song saved him - for now. Yeah, back then I was all about the movie and I totally loved this song. But I listen to it now and think - this was really a hit? You tell me - had this not had the "E.T." tie-in, do you think it would have been a Top 10'er? I mean, if the song was about doin' it for the first time with someone Diamond would sing "turn off your lamp light...," would you buy it? Or about a prostitute? "Under the streetlight..." I wouldn't have. So as a memento of a time/place/event, it can provoke a cheezy, fun smile out of me. But as a legit hit...bleh.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although the song does not specifically call out any character from the film, the lyrics regarding "turn on your heartlight" and "take a ride across the moon" were unmistakably inspired by scenes from the movie. And for the film's studio, MCA, maybe a little too much. With significant merchandising money to be made (including an "E.T." story album featuring Michael Jackson), MCA was not pleased with Diamond's composition and sought to protect their product. In the end, Diamond agreed to pay MCA a fee of $25,000 for using the film as inspiration for the song.


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