Sunday, March 21, 2021

"Pink Cadillac" by Natalie Cole

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3439
Date:  03/05/1988
Debut:  67
Peak:  5
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  After having a lackluster 80s, Cole returned to the charts in a significant way with her album Everlasting. By this point in time, the LP had spawned two #13 Pop tracks, "Jump Start" (#2 R&B) and "I Live for Your Love" (#4 R&B/#2 AC). Those hits certainly put Cole back in the spotlight, but it was this third single that truly completed her comeback. The song sailed into the Pop Top 10 while getting to #9 R&B and #16 AC. It also became her first #1 on the Dance chart. It would be her biggest crossover hit since 1977 when she got to #5 Pop/#1 R&B with "I've Got Love on My Mind." The song would also be Cole's biggest hit internationally. It would make the Top 10 of several countries including the UK (#5). The success of "Pink Cadillac" helped sales of the album, which would turn gold by the end of March.

ReduxReview:  I thought this was a great vehicle (so to speak...) for Cole. It was kind of like her equivalent of "Freeway of Love," which also returned Aretha Franklin to the Pop Top 10 after an extended absence. Oddly, that song featured a pink Cadillac in its lyrics as well, so some folks got these songs and artists confused. The charging dance-pop production was spot-on for the song and Cole easily drove through the tune adding her own little turns along with way. Add this song to the list of ones written by Bruce Springsteen that he let get away from him only to become hits for other artists.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen. He began writing the song in '81 and recorded an acoustic version of it during the sessions for what would become his 1982 album Nebraska. A year later, he would record the tune with the E Street Band during sessions for Born in the U.S.A. The track was initially included on the final version of the LP, but at the last minute ended up getting replaced with "I'm Goin' Down" (#9 Pop). The song was then used as the b-side to the album's lead single, the #2 "Dancing in the Dark."  2) Cole was not the first artist to cover this song. Another female star had recorded it, but the track never saw the light of day. Back in 1982, producer Chuck Plotkin was working on a new album for Bette Midler. Plotkin had previously worked with Springsteen and according to one account, Springsteen dropped by the studio Plotkin was working in with Midler. Chuck was familiar with "Pink Cadillac" and since it wasn't being used asked Springsteen to use the song with Midler. Springsteen agreed and Midler later cut the track. In the meantime, Midler went out on tour and ended up using the song as her concert opener combined with the 1977 track "Cadillac Walk" by Mink DeVille. The studio version was set to be included on Midler's 1983 album No Frills, but then Springsteen heard the track. The story goes that Springsteen didn't think the song was appropriate for a female to sing (the lyrics loaded with euphemisms for sex and body parts) and would block its release. However, in a book by Brian Hiatt (Stories Behind the Song), he quotes Springsteen after hearing Midler's track as saying "I mean, it's just in your face!" Most likely, the way Midler's ribald take put everything out there didn't sit well with Springsteen, whose own rock jam was more subtle and wink-wink. Whatever the case, Springsteen withdrew the song for use and Midler had to find another track for the album at considerable expense, which did not please the Divine Miss M. She ended up covering The Rolling Stone's "Beast of Burden" (#71 Pop) for the album. A few years later, Springsteen would approve of Natalie Cole's take and even thought that it was "cool" that a woman could sing the song and make a great version. He most likely green-lit the recording because her dance take and vocal delivery were more inline with his more nuanced version.


1 comment:

  1. 9/10, I find it strange that Natalie Cole's version was far more successful on the pop charts yet I seem to hear Bruce Springsteen's version of this song far more often, I rarely ever get to hear Natalie's version of this song on the radio and thought she did a great job with it, my mother also gets this song mixed up with Aretha Franklin's "Freeway of Love"