September 18, 2022
You can’t get much more 80s than the Commodores “Lady (You Bring Me Up)” video. The short afros (compared to the 1970s), the short shorts and, of course, the ode to a special woman.
Yes, the short shorts that both men and women wore.
“Lady (You Bring Me Up)” peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 19, 1981. Not sure why it couldn’t get any higher, considering, in my world, only Juice Newton’s “Queen of Hearts” (one of the seven songs ahead of it) has equal or more lasting memories.
Of course the Commodores were led by vocalist, saxophonist and keyboardist Lionel Richie. The Diana Ross/Lionel Richie duet “Endless Love” was #1 in that same week. Almost exactly a year earlier, on September 29, 1980, “Lady,” written by Lionel Richie and performed by Kenny Rogers, was released in the U.S. It reached #1 on November 15, 1980, and stayed there for six weeks.
Richie left the Commodores in 1982 and began his very successful solo career. He ended up winning four Grammy Awards, including as co-writer with Michael Jackson on the 1985 Song of the Year “We Are The World.” But this article is about a great Commodores song.
The band was born in 1968 at Tuskegee University. They won the school’s annual freshman music contest, and parlayed that into a music career. They ended up releasing 14 studio albums from 1974 to 1993. Richie and Walter “Clyde” Orange alternated as lead singer.
Orange, the second-longest tenured Commodore of the 2022 edition (after William King), was the lead singer in the 1977 hit “Brick House” (with Lionel Richie in the background playing the saxophone)…
…and the group’s lone Grammy-winning song, “Nightshift,” in 1986 (and reminds me of my mom). The song was a tribute to R&B singers Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye, who both passed away in 1984.
“Lady (You Bring Me Up)” is great because it’s groovy and true. No man is complete without his woman. Every great man who influenced my life, including my dad, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy…you know immediately who their wives are. Muhammad Ali is my other greatest influence. He was married four times. But he was married for 30 years, from 1986 until his death in 2016, to Yolanda Williams.
You bring me up when I’m down.
You’re gonna change my life around.”
Never gets old.