Who would have thought that combining Dionne Warwick with Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Gladys Knight would produce one of the best pop songs of the Eighties (a dire decade, to be sure)? One of the reasons the song is so great, besides its upbeat nature, the appealing combination of the voices, and Stevie’s harmonica parts (adding mouth organ was a stroke of genius), is that it came from the brain of Bert Bacharach, the best pop composer of our era. Normally Bacharach’s partner in such a song would be Hal David, but Bacharach’s wife Carole Bayer Sager was the co-writer here.
It was first recorded in 1982 by Rod Stewart for the soundtrack of the film Night Shift, but it is better known for the 1985 cover version by Dionne Warwick,[ Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder. This recording, billed as being by “Dionne Warwick & Friends”, was released as a charity single for AIDS research and prevention. It was a massive hit, becoming the number-one single of 1986 in the United States, and winning the Grammy Awards for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Song of the Year. It raised more than $3 million for its cause.
You can hear Rod Stewart’s version here, but it’s not nearly as good as the Warwick et al. ensemble. His voice is simply not suited to the lyrics.
This may well be a lip synched version, but you can see that simply singing this song makes you happy and friendly: look at the interactions between the singers. I bet you’ll be happy when you hear it, too.
5 thoughts on ““That’s What Friends are For””
Beautiful song. A reason to smile.
The 80s were my greatest decade for music 🙂 –
The Gun Club; Sisters of Mercy; Southern Death Cult/Death Cult/The Cult; The Chameleons; The Birthday Party; Clock DVA; The Cocteau Twins; The Lords of the New Church; Danse Society; The Moodists; Alien Sex Fiend; Spear of Destiny; New Model Army; The Scientists; X-Mal Deutschland; Jesus & Mary Chain; Ghost Dance; Fields of the Nephilim; Flesh for Lulu; Red Lorry Yellow Lorry; etc!
I was very happy…
PS Rod Stewart used to gargle with gravel!
Happy yes, but a few tears were running down my face. I must be getting old.
I thought this post would be about Justice Thomas.