The Piano Woman

No, I will NOT play “The Cat’s in the Cradle.” Any other requests?

Need something a bit stronger than the intro to Beethoven’s Fifth to get your week started?  Lucky for you, it’s Monday, the day The Nest always strikes a harmonious chord with another song that got B-flatted and confined to that ebony and ivory vault we like to call the Dusty Vinyl Archive!  DJ Scratchy’s tuning up her…. um… synthesizer since she’s all new school, while the Sponkies have fun playing Chopsticks.  Time to crack our knuckles and put on a show…

The music business favors the young and perky.  It’s almost impossible to break out and have a hit these days if you’re on the wrong side of 25.  That wasn’t the case a little over three decades ago, when it was possible for a talented musician who’d spent their lives toiling in the background of the industry to suddenly find themselves as the star attraction.

Brenda Russell and her then-husband Brian spent much of the 1970’s involved in a variety of projects, from singing backup for Neil Sedaka and Elton John to producing albums for acts like Rufus.  After divorcing Brian in 1978, Brenda went on her own and recorded a solo album that produced a minor hit (#30) in “So Good So Right.”

That’s not how it goes…

Brenda went back to producing albums for others in the 80’s, and dabbled in releasing her own material.  Her fourth album, Get Here, did not just fade into the background like the rest of her work, however.  In early 1988, the first single released from it didn’t just become a hit, it made it all the way up to #6.  That would be “Piano in the Dark”…

At age 38, Brenda Russell suddenly found herself breaking out as a star…. at least for the time being.  “Piano in the Dark” earned a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year, and featured Karate Kid theme singer Joe Esposito doing the backing vocals (that’s him seated next to her in the video).  Unfortunately, Russell wasn’t able to build off the sudden success, and she never sniffed the Billboard charts again… which may have helped bury “Piano,” and her short-lived fame, in the giant dustbin of great music that came out in the late 80’s.

Nobody plays Debbie Gibson songs anymore, but at least everyone still remembers who she was!

Apparently, Brenda Russell kept a notebook filled with interesting phrases that she would try to work into full fledged songs, and that is how the rather oddly random title “Piano in the Dark” came about.  She turned it into a song about a woman who wanted to leave her lover, but felt drawn back to him every time he played the piano.  That’s actually pretty random as well, but hey, the result wound up being a pretty good song!

He’s not into you, dear. Or your gender, for that matter…

Come back next Monday for another song that will tickle your ivories…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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27 Responses to The Piano Woman

  1. I remember those songs…………especially “Piano In The Dark”. Good stuff. That graphic at the start of this post is so cool – I think my Teddy would probably choose DRUMS as his instrument of choice rather than piano – more befitting a 22 lb. cat than piano don’t you think???? If he couldn’t be a musician then he’d probably be a sumo wrestler.


  2. franhunne4u says:

    I think it never made it to Europe .. at least I did not hear it.

  3. I had forgotten about her! There are so many good artists out there who just wind up wilting on the side of the road.

    • There are, and as I mentioned, at her age at the time, she’s have never gotten a second look in the business today where they check your birth certificate for a year that starts with a two…

  4. Mer O'Leary says:

    Love this song…and yes, I was singing it! Thanks for reminding me of my freshman year in high school.

  5. A brand spanking new one on me! And here I was, deluded-ly thinking I knew much about music. Yeah. That’s the really cool thing about music, one can always learn something if one wishes to. Thanks for sharing a new oldie with me! 🙂

    • I can probably show you as many lost 80’s songs you don’t know as you can show me lost 70’s songs I don’t know. I feel bad for the kids today who don’t have the variety of music we had back in the day. Everything sounds so alike, it’s ridiculous…

  6. ghostmmnc says:

    She has a really nice voice. I don’t remember ever hearing this song. 🙂

  7. Hmm, can’t say I recall this artist. Oh well. Happy Monday nonetheless.

  8. Evil,
    OMG! If that just isn’t the epitome of a 80’s movie song. There are songs that all you have to do is hear the first few bars and you know what decade it’s from. I’ve never heard this before and yet it feels like I’ve heard it a million times. Was it ever in a movie? Mona

    • It’s one of the rare 80’s songs that wasn’t in a movie…. at least not one that came out at the time. I think this is one of those songs you can hear in the background a thousand times and never really pay attention to… but your subconscious will remember it!

  9. Oh my gawd…..I totally remember this song, a great one hit wonder! Well at least for me, love this tune, thanks Evil!

    • You raved when I gave it a shout out last year when I featured Joe Esposito, which made me add it to my DVA list. This is one of MANY late 80’s songs I really like that never get played on the radio anymore…

  10. Wow Brenda where have you been? I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song before. Great voice. Her break out hit was amazing considering back then 38 was what 88 is now.

  11. draliman says:

    Everybody seems to love this song! Except me, obviously. But you already guessed that, didn’t you…

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