Thursday, January 3, 2019

"Now and Forever (You and Me)" by Anne Murray

Song#:  2637
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  92
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Country Crossover, Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The last time Murray had a significant hit on the Pop chart was with her late 1979 remake of "Daydream Believer" (#12 Pop/#1 AC, #3 Country). Since that time she had been itching to turn more towards pop like some of her contemporaries (Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, etc.), but it seemed she just couldn't get her label and her producer (Jim Ed Norton) to get on board. While a few of her songs along the way had a more contemporary feel, she still remained grounded in country and scored twelve more Country Top 10's including five #1's. None of them were hits at Pop and as time moved forward, pop radio showed little interest in Murray's music. Then finally for her 22nd studio album, Murray got her chance to make a pop album. On board for the experiment were producers David Foster, Jack White (Laura Branigan), and Keith Diamond (Billy Ocean). The end result was Something to Talk About and to kick things off this first single was issued out. Although it was definitely a pop song, Country still embraced the tune and it became Murray's tenth #1 on that chart. AC was also on board taking the song to #7. There were high hopes that pop radio would play the single and that a younger audience would latch on to it. Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be. The song got locked in the basement of the Pop chart for a month and a half before disappearing. An even more synth poppy second single, "Who's Leaving Who," didn't get much support from anyone and it stopped at #62 Country/#26 AC. The album would make it to #2 at Country (#68 Pop) and go gold, but it just seemed that pop radio and its audience had no interest in Murray as a glammed-up synthpop diva. This song would actually end up being Murray's final one to reach the Pop chart. It was also her last #1 at Country. She would go on to have four more Country Top 10's, but by the early 90s, she was no longer hitting the chart.

ReduxReview:  This falls in the category of "too little, too late." Country music was going through an identity crisis during this time period and sales were on the decline. Coupled with that, the golden age of country crossover hits was over. Even superstar acts were having trouble securing crossover hits. So for Murray to try and become a pop star at this time was not a great idea. Had she made the switch six years earlier after "Daydream Believer," it might have worked. But in '86, no one wanted a synthpop Anne Murray. However, that doesn't mean that the actual songs on the album were bad. This was a solid tune co-written by David Foster, Randy Goodrum, and Jim Vallance (Bryan Adams) that had a nice 80s production by Foster. Unfortunately, I think it was just too AC-leaning to capture the pop audience she wanted. And it's still Anne Murray! She could front a Metallica song and her soothing croon and bedazzled pant suit would still tame it into a bizarre country/AC/metal track! She just wasn't meant to be a cool, hip, pop diva. "Who's Leaving Who" was certainly something that fell into Laura Branigan territory, but it wasn't going to get a shot at pop after the first single failed (which is too bad as I've always like the song, even though it needed a stronger production). It was a valiant effort from Murray, but the timing of it all was just wrong.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The name of the album came from a song that Murray wanted to record, but ultimately never did. "Something to Talk About," written by Shirley Eikhard, would get a big second lease on life five years later when Bonnie Raitt picked it up for her Grammy-winning album Luck of the Draw. It was the first single from the album and it became Raitt's first and only Pop Top 10 hit reaching #5. The song would be nominated for a Grammy for Record of the Year while Raitt would win a Grammy for her performance of the song (Best Female Pop Vocal Performance).  2) While Murray's career cooled in the 90s, it didn't mean she still couldn't sell albums. In 1999, she recorded an album of contemporary Christian songs titled What a Wonderful World. It would be a surprise hit reaching #1 at CC, #4 Country, and #38 Pop. It would also become her third career platinum album. In 2002, she recorded an collection of classic country songs called Country Croonin'. It would be a gold-seller that got to #13 on the Country chart.


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