Wednesday, August 26, 2020

"Silent Morning" by Noel

Song#:  3238
Date:  08/22/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  47
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Freestyle, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  Bronx-born Noel Pagan most likely didn't consider a career as a singer while working in the bar at a New York club, but when an opportunity suddenly presented itself, Pagan found himself in a recording studio writing his first song. His initial stab at composing was a tune titled "Spanish Morning." The track got recorded, but then it seems the producer who had brought Pagan into the studio up and vanished. Left with nothing but a demo song, Pagan then sought help via connections he had made at the club and eventually his tune ended up over at the Island Records subsidiary 4th & B'way. The label liked what they heard, but before signing Pagan they requested a lyric rewrite. Pagan did and the resulting song became "Silent Morning." He was paired with producers Roman Ricardo and Paul Robb, who would later hit it big in '88 with his band Information Society, and the new tune was recorded. It was issued out as a single credited to Noel and it began to climb the Dance chart where it peaked at #6. The hit then crossed over to the Pop chart where it made a long, leisurely climb topping out at #47 after 13 weeks on the chart. It would spend another nine weeks on the chart and that 22-week run would be among the longest for a single that didn't reach the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  I remember being somewhat fascinated by this song without ever hearing it. I followed the Billboard charts and saw that it was making a slow climb. The title and artist name were interesting and I did read or hear rumors that the tune was about losing a partner to AIDS (see below). However, I never got to hear it anywhere so I finally just bought the single. I have to say that I was a little disappointed at the time. It was just an okay freestyle song by a barely capable vocalist with lyrics that to me didn't support the gay angle. I set the song aside and didn't think much more about it. Years later, the song kind of sneaked into my 80s playlists due to being on compilations and I got to like it. Noel was definitely not a great singer (a couple of track on the album make that apparent) or songwriter, but he kind of lucked out with this first effort. Not much happened for him after his first LP, but thanks to the widespread appeal of this track, he was able to capitalize on it over the years.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Back in April of '89, Spin magazine published an issue that featured a bunch of lists such as "The 25 Greatest Albums of All Time," "20 Coolest Movies, and "Ten Great Rock Hotels." One of the lists was titled "Great Moments in Recording Studio History" and Noel was included at #7. He made the list due to an alleged event that took place while recording an early version of "Silent Morning." It seems that Noel was in the studio with producer Aaron Hanson and Noel wasn't doing his vocals the way Hanson wanted. The issue caused friction between the two to the point that Hanson supposedly pointed a gun at Noel's head and said he'd blow it off it Noel didn't sing the song the way he wanted. Whether this story is true or not is in question, especially since Hanson had no involvement with Noel after he signed with 4th & B'way. So one would have to assume that Hanson might have been the guy who first brought Noel into the studio and then disappeared after recording "Spanish Morning." Whether true or just a music legend, it certainly was a juicy story.  2) Noel apparently wrote the new lyrics to "Silent Morning" either about his then-girlfriend Aleida or a high school sweetheart. However, during the era of AIDS, this song was interpreted by some as being about the epidemic and the loss of a lover. This led to both the song and Noel being quite popular in the gay community. It also led to rumors that Noel was gay, but that wasn't true. He would later be married and have twin daughters.

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2 comments:

  1. Actually The Kings' "The Beat Goes On/Switchin' To Glide" was on the charts for 23 weeks despite it only reaching at #43 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1980

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    Replies
    1. Correct. That's why I mention above that "Silent Morning" is "among the longest." It was a rare occurrence for a song to be on the chart for so long without making the Top 40 so it was worth pointing out.

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