This is the thirty-second in a series of examinations of music legends and whether they are true or false.
Click here to view an archive of the previous music urban legends.
A special theme week this time around – all the legends involve songs that feature a woman’s name!
MUSIC LEGEND: Toto’s “Rosanna” was about Rosanna Arquette.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
Toto was a long-lived band that was particularly popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The band was unique in that it was made up of musicians who were veteran musicians working on albums for OTHER bands and performers. They were the session musicians you call in to do your album.
A group of these session guys got together and formed their own band, and they won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1977.
In 1982. the band hit its zenith in popularity with the multi-Grammy award winning album, Toto IV, which is the rare album where you really can’t pick which of its singles is THE most famous Toto song. That album featured the smash hits “Africa” AND “Rosanna.”
At the time of the recording of the album, band keyboardist Steve Porcaro (seen here)…
was dating the actress, Rosanna Arquette.
So, naturally, everyone assumes that the song was written about Arquette, and all sorts of reference books still list that as fact.
However, a few things seem to go against such a position.
1. Porcaro did not write the song, fellow band member David Paich did. Paich wrote (or co-wrote) almost all of Toto’s hits.
2. David Paich has said repeatedly over the years (including back in the 1980s) that he did not write the song about Arquette, but rather that they just needed a name for the song and “Rosanna” sounded good so they went with it.
3. If you look at the lyrics of the song, it really does not fit being written about Arquette.
All I wanna do in the middle of the evening is hold you tight
I didn’t know you were looking for more than I could ever be
Not quite a year since she went away, Rosanna
Now she’s gone and I have to say
Meet you all the way, meet you all the way, Rosanna [x2]
At the time of the song’s writing AND release, Arquette and Porcaro were still together, so the song really doesn’t fit their relationship.
So….the song was not written by her boyfriend, the guy who did write the song (and the rest of his bandmates) say that he did not write the song about her and the lyrics to the song don’t really fit being about her.
I’m willing to bet that they are not, in fact, about her.
Unless, of course, you wish to argue that featuring her name in the song period means that you’re at least KIND of writing about her, which is fair enough, but I think you get what we’re talking about when we say “written about her” – it doesn’t mean “uses her name,” it means “actually about her.”
MUSIC LEGEND: A song was re-named years after it first came out because it was used in a clip package for an Olympic athlete.
In 1971, Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr. wrote a piece of incidental music for the movie, Bless the Beasts and Children.
It was called “Cotten’s Dream.”
A couple of years later, the pair adapted the song to serve as the theme song to a new soap opera called The Young and the Restless.
The show became very popular, and remains today one of the most popular soap operas out there.
The song also gained quite a bit of notoriety from being the theme to the program.
However, it was not until three years later, in 1976, that the song REALLY took off.
In 1976, ABC’s popular sports program used the song to go along with a series of clips about the Romania gymnast, Nadia Comaneci.
Comaneci, of course, was the extremely popular Olympian who was the first Olympic gymnast to gain a score of a Perfect 10 out of 10 (she received it during her uneven bars routine – she would go on to receive six more 10s, in total, during the competition, as she won three gold medals).
The 14-year-old Romania became an international sensation, and the buzz from the Wide World of Sports montage prompted De Vorzon to re-release the song, and in the fall of 1976, the song reached the top ten on the Billboard charts.
This time around, though, De Vorzon re-named the song in honor of the young athlete who was bringing it so much new attention, and the song was now called “Nadia’s Theme,” which is what it remains called today.
Amusingly enough, Comaneci never did any routines to the song.
MUSIC LEGEND: Jack Lawrence wrote a song for a five-year-old little girl who grew up to marry Paul McCartney.
I just featured a Jack Lawrence legend last week, but I came across another good one and I had to use it (especially as it, you know, applied to this week’s theme).
So, during World War II, Lawrence’s personal lawyer was also a good friend of Lawrence’s, so he asked Lawrence for a favor – he said that there plenty of songs featuring the names of the rest of his family, but not his five-year-old daughter, Linda. So could Lawrence write a song about her?
Lawrence obliged, but the song did not find too much success until after the war ended, when TWO competing versions of the tune rode up the charts!
Ray Noble and his Orchestra, with Buddy Clark on vocals, went to #1…
but there was a competing version by Buddy Spivak that went to #6 on the charts!
Anyhow, that’s pretty much it for the story, except for WHO the “Linda” in the song was!
The young girl, Linda Eastman, grew up to be an acclaimed photographer…
Oh, and, of course, also the longtime spouse of Paul McCartney, from the Beatles!
Isn’t that the oddest thing?
Check out the late great Jack Lawrence’s website out! He put up LOTS of cool information there before he passed away last year (at the young age of 96 – sadly, he outlived Linda by more than a decade, as she passed away in 1998 from cancer).
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com
Tags: "Africa", "Linda", "Nadia's Theme", "Rosanna", Barry De Vorzon, Bless the Beasts and Children, Buddy Clark, Buddy Spivak, David Paich, Grammy Award, Jack Lawrence, Linda Eastman, Linda McCartney, Nadia Comaneci, Perry Botkin Jr., Ray Noble, Rosanna Arquette, Steve Porcaro, The Young and the Restless, Toto, Toto IV, Wide World of Sports