Thursday, October 15, 2009

Orleans: Still The One

It’s TV Thursdays – let's straighten up the rabbit ears and pull a song that had exposure via television air waves. Today’s number was blasting over radio and television four years running. What was it? (I know the answer is above, but pretend you didn't see it).

Hint one: it was released in 1976 and peaked at #5 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

No, the hit was not “Undercover Angel” by Alan O’Day.

Hint two: It was covered by a country artist in 1977 and also had moderate success in that musical genre.

No, the country cover hit was not “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away” by the Kendalls.

Hint three: its lyric’s were used as a major television network promotional theme from 1977 to 1979.

No, the slogan wasn’t: “New car, caviar, four star daydream, think I’ll buy me a football team” as used by ESPN.

Hint four: it was written by a husband and wife writing team – well, maybe you don’t know that one.

No, it wasn’t written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Hint five: one of the coauthors is currently a congressman from New York.

No, it wasn’t cowritten by Charlie Rangel – although, he might be a talented songwriter – who knows?

Hint six: the song has been used by three presidential candidates – one candidate’s usage in the 2008 campaign specifically angered the previously mentioned congressman.

No, it wasn’t John Edwards' use of “Torn Between Two Lovers.”

Drum roll, puuuuleeeze . . . the winning number is “Still the One” by Orleans.




In 1977, Whispering Bill Anderson took his cover of “Still the One” to #11 on the country charts. Beginning that same year, ABC-TV successfully used the song for their promotional theme for the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons, which, by the way, made mucho dinero for husband and wife (now ex) writing team of John and Johanna Hall. ABC (the same company whose record label dropped Orleans several years earlier) was now incorporating many versions of the song into their weekly promotional announcements.  The versions ran the gamut of the sublime to the ridiculous - with everything from Orleans mimics to slow, elevator music versions.

Coauthor John Hall is currently a two-term Democratic congressman serving the 19th New York Congressional district.

In addition to Hall's political connections, "Still the One" has been used by the George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain campaigns. Hall requested that Bush stop using the theme in 2004 and he immediately complied. Hillary Clinton had not sought permission for its usage in 2008, but John Hall, a Clinton supporter, gave tacit approval for its use. The McCain/Palin camp used it in 2008 and Hall requested they stop; however, McCain’s campaign manager basically ignored this request.

Unless this was used for commercial purposes rather than being played at town hall events, I doubt if Hall could have legally limited its usage. That is unless he was willing to challenge this in court. BMI licenses this song and other music for public performance. Commercial use or synchronizing the music to video would require specific permissions. As long as the hall where the song was played had a current BMI license, its usage in these facilities would have been covered and it is doubtful it could be banned from being played.


According to Orlean’s lead vocalist Larry Hoppen, the song was inspired by a divorced friend of the Halls' who complained about the vast number of “break-up” songs that had been recorded. She suggested that someone needed to write a song about couples’ staying together. The Halls took this inspiration and in very short order concocted “Still the One.”

In 2006, BMI (Broadcast Music International) certified that “Still the One” and “Dance with Me,” Orleans’ 1975 hit, had garnered a combined six million plays. Quite a testimony for two great songs by a band who recorded for more record labels than Mr. Carter had liver pills.*

*Orleans recorded for ABC Records, Asylum Records, Infinity Records, MCA Records, Pony Canyon Records, GWE/Major Label, Pioneer Records, Dinosaur Entertainment, Rhino Records, Sony/BMG, and Forever Records.

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