Wednesday, October 16, 2019

"At This Moment" by Billy Vera & the Beaters

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2923
Date:  11/08/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Some songs are just destined to be hits. It could be upon initial release, or years later as in the case with this track. Back in 1981, Vera and his band recorded a live album titled Billy & the Beaters. The LP's first single, "I Can Take Care of Myself," just barely made the Pop Top 40 at #39. For a follow-up, they issued out "At This Moment." Unfortunately, the song didn't get promoted well and it ended up being a #79 blip on the chart. Vera then followed up the album with a self-titled solo effort, but it disappeared quickly. Vera then spent his time making money as an actor while performing in clubs on the weekends. In 1985, a producer from the hit TV show Family Ties happened to be in the audience for one of Vera's shows and heard "At This Moment." The show had been looking for a sad/romantic song for an episode and the producer thought Vera's song would be perfect. The song got played on the show and it caused a bit of a stir. People wanted to know who the singer was and where to get the song. The problem was that single wasn't available. Vera tried to get labels interested in distributing the tune or letting him re-record the song, but no one was bit. Then he got hooked up with Rhino Records, who were in the business of reissuing recordings. A deal was struck to reissue Vera's live album with a couple of track from his solo disc. Unfortunately, by the time records were ready, the hubbub over the song had died down. But luck seemed to be on the song's side as it got used again on Family Ties and this time around the interest in the tune was even stronger. With records now available, folks began buying them and the song started to hit the airwaves. It slowly caught on and finally reached the top of the Pop chart. It also made it to #1 at AC. The song's broad appeal also allowed it to chart at Country (#42) and R&B (#70). It would end up being a gold seller. The reissued album titled By Request: The Best of Billy Vera & the Beaters would do well getting to #15 and it would also go gold. A follow-up single from the album didn't chart, but the hit helped land Vera a contract with Capitol Records. He and the band would issue out the 1988 album Retro Nuevo. It failed to chart but did generate the #9 AC single "Between Like and Love."

ReduxReview:  There's not much more I can add to what I wrote in my original assessment. It was a terrific song that was lucky to get a second lease on life. The one note I would have is that I think "Between Like and Love" was unjustly ignored. My guess is that might have been a bit too similar to "At This Moment" and folks figured it to be a rehash and ignored it. Plus, it didn't have the benefit of being featured on a big TV show. The track did well at AC, but it really deserved to reach the Pop Top 40.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In 2013, Vera would win a Grammy, but not for writing or performing music. In addition to his music and acting careers, Vera was also a music historian. He was tapped to write the liner notes to the Ray Charles compilation box set Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles. His work on the collection earned him the Grammy for Best Liner Notes.  2) "At This Moment" was used in Family Ties during scenes that featured the characters Alex Keaton (Michael J. Fox) and Ellen (Tracy Pollan). Alex and Ellen would get together as a couple during the show's fourth season. Fox and Pollan later moved their relationship from the show into real life. The pair would marry in 1988.



  1. Probably my most loathed song ever. A ridiculous song with a comically over-dramatic performance. Even the lyrics irritate me..."If you'd stay, I'd subtract 20 years from my life." So what if he was only going to live 19 more years? She'd stay, he'd be dead. An absolutely embarrassing abomination that, thankfully, I never hear anymore.

    1. Ha! I love your assessment and I can't say that I really disagree. It's a cornball tune, which I normally don't care for, but every once in a while a piece of schmaltz hits me right and I enjoy it. This just happened to be one.