Tuesday, May 3, 2022

"Let the River Run" by Carly Simon

Oscar Alert!
Song#:  3821
Date:  03/04/1989
Debut:  95
Peak:  49
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Following the success of her '87 album Coming Around Again and its #18 Pop/#5 AC title-track hit, Simon was given the opportunity to write a theme song for an upcoming comedy-drama film titled Working Girl that was to star Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, and Harrison Ford. The movie was set in New York City, so Simon took inspiration from the city and the film's script and came up with "Let the River Run." In addition to the theme, Simon would write a few other songs/instrumentals that would be used in the film and appear on the soundtrack album. The film would be released late in '88 to good reviews and in time for the Oscar cycle. It would be nominated for six awards including one for Simon for Best Original Song. A few weeks before the awards show, "Let the River Run" was issued out as a single. Thanks to the Oscar nod and the film being a hit, the song started to get some attention. A few weeks later, Simon would end up winning the Oscar for Best Original Song and that helped the single crack the top half of the Pop chart while getting to #11 AC. The soundtrack album would then be able to get to #45. While the tune wasn't a huge hit for Simon, it became a very recognizable tune in her catalog. Unfortunately, it would end up being Simon's final solo effort to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I remember hearing this for the first time thinking that I liked the rolling rhythm under the tune along with the chorus/bridge sections, yet I felt like it was all trying to lead somewhere, but it didn't quite make it. I wanted a bigger payoff by the end and it didn't come. I also thought that while it was perfect for the film, it wasn't necessarily a good single. It was a very weak year for Best Original Song nominees at the Oscars. There were only two other songs competing, Phil Collins' "Two Hearts" and "Calling You" from the film Bagdad Cafe sung by Jevetta Steele. Collins and Simon tied for the Golden Globe so either one could win, but I think because Working Girl was up for Best Picture and four other awards, Simon edged out Collins (he'd get his Oscar later for the gooey 1999 Tarzan tune "You'll Be in My Heart"). I think it was the right call as Simon's song has been more impactful than Collins' Motown throwback. I've become more fond of Simon's tune over the years, but even now I'm still missing a big splashy finale. The song deserved one and I think it would have really taken it to the next level.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In addition to winning the Oscar, Simon and her song would also win a Golden Globe and a Grammy in their respective film song categories. In doing so, Simon became the first artist to have solely written and performed a song that won all three awards. To-date, the only other artist to do that has been Bruce Springsteen with "Streets of Philadelphia" (from Philadelphia in '93). There have been other artists that have won all three awards, but they co-wrote their songs with other composers whereas Simon and Springsteen were the sole composers.  2)  Around the same time that this single was released, Simon issued out a new album titled My Romance. It was an album of standards and therefore did not include "Let the River Run." There were no singles pushed out from the album, but it still did fairly well reaching #46. Her return to doing pop originals that she wrote came in the fall of '90 with Have You Seen Me Lately. Its first single "Better Not Tell Her" would be a #4 AC hit, but it would fail to make the Pop chart. The album would top out at #60. Simon would have one final appearance on the Pop chart. She would be a guest performer on Janet Jackson's 2001 track "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)." Originally, Jackson had asked to sample Simon's 1972 #1 "You're So Vain," but then Simon offered to do a new vocal and even some new lyrics. Simon recorded vocals that included some spoken word sections at her studio and forwarded them to Jackson to use. Jackson liked what Simon sent and incorporated most of it into the track. Later on, Jackson wanted to do a remix of the song for single release and got Missy Elliott to provide a rap. The remix would be pushed out as the third single from Jackson's All for You album. It would peak at #28 Pop/#26 R&B/#7 Dance. In 2005, Simon would grab her first Top 10 album since 1978 with her fourth standards album "Moonlight Serenade." It would reach #7.


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