Waiting for a Star to Fall: Boy Meets Girl on how they made a pop classic | Pop and rock

Shannon Rubicam, singer-songwriter

We’d written How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) for Whitney Houston, so got tickets when she performed the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on her first tour in 1986. After she sang How Will I Know, I glanced up and there was a taking pictures star within the night time sky above the amphitheatre. I pulled out my pocket book and wrote down: “Waiting for a star to fall.” It felt like a signal from the heavens.

We’d simply turned our rental storage into a studio. I don’t assume we’d put up insulation but so you would hear the automobiles going by. However we sat down and the tune simply flowed out. I normally do a web page of lyrics I name “the blah” and hand it to George, who can determine the gems. We have been a married couple, however I had a previous like anyone does. I wrote the tune about an unattainable individual – that second everybody has of their teenagers or early 20s the place they have a longing for somebody they can’t attain.

We made a demo within the storage and supplied the tune to Whitney’s label boss, Clive Davis. He mentioned it wasn’t proper for her and he was proper – it was too poppy and she was going R&B, so we determined to report it ourselves. Our label advised us that the producer Arif Mardin was in LA, so we went to his lodge and sat there actually quietly and nervously as he popped on his headphones and paced across the room, listening to the tune. He took his headphones off and mentioned: “That is a hit! I can work with this.”

Within the studio, Arif added a number of layers and musicians. He pushed us to make the whole lot grand and excellent. Then we went to New York and Andy Snitzer added sax. He’s well-known now, however again then he was this child who’d simply come from enjoying a barmitzvah. He got here to the studio nonetheless in his barmitzvah band uniform and performed this unimaginable solo.

Weirdly, earlier than we turned profitable, somebody had launched us to some wine that had supposedly been meditated over in a pyramid in Egypt leading to mystical, magical qualities. It got here with a type of warning – that for those who drank it, there can be an impact. After Waiting for a Star to Fall turned a international hit, we seemed again and went: “Hey, we drank the magic wine and look what occurred.”

George Merrill, singer-songwriter and keyboards

The phrase “ready for a star to fall” simply appeared so excellent I might really feel the beat in it immediately. The way in which the tune simply tumbled collectively felt like actually good math. However one of many first issues Arif Mardin mentioned was that the tune had a very uncommon chord construction. “Did I screw up?” I assumed. However he was truly giving me a praise. At that time, Robert Palmer was all set to do the tune – however Arif intervened. I used to be truly within the room when he known as Robert in his splendidly gentlemanly means to ask if he “would thoughts awfully if he didn’t do something with it simply but”. It was the funniest, coolest factor. Belinda Carlisle did a model however apparently was sad with it so it didn’t get launched.

the single cover.
‘The tune simply tumbled collectively’ … the only cowl.

A lot of what we did within the storage made it on to the studio model. I performed my Juno 6 synthesiser that I nonetheless have. Arif’s son Joe performed synth too. Our pal Susan Boyd did the backing vocals, which gave it such full-throated energy, however once we got here out of the studio we knew it nonetheless wasn’t fairly there. We adored Prince, so we seemed over his album covers to see who blended his data, noticed the title David Leonard, and known as him. He blended the tune and, in between telling us superb Prince tales, took the monitor the place it wanted to go.

For the video, the director actually preferred the thought of us being a couple. We’re nonetheless musical companions – however Shannon and I are actually married to different folks, so the video is like a doc of our dwelling life at the moment. Our daughter Hillary is in it together with her preschool pals. We had to make sitting on the sofa fascinating so they filmed us driving a bicycle round the lounge, which in fact we did on a regular basis!

I by no means requested if Whitney regretted not doing our tune, however by then she was on to I Will At all times Love You and that unimaginable physique of labor. I doubt she seemed again.

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