This is the thirty-third 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.
MUSIC LEGEND: “Windy” was originally written about the hippie boyfriend of the songwriter, with the lyrics re-written by The Association to be about a woman.
STATUS: Mostly False, With Perhaps Some Truth Mixed In
The infectious pop classic, “Windy,” was released by the band The Association in 1967 and was a smash hit, going all the way to #1 on the Billboard charts.
The song is about an engaging young woman named Windy, about whom it was sung:
Who’s trippin’ down the streets of the city
smiling at everybody she sees
whose reaching out to capture a moment
everyone knows it’s Windy…
For years, the rumor was that while the character in the song is definitely a woman, that the son initially was written about a MAN, the hippy boyfriend of the songwriter, before the Association changed it.
For example, here’s a quote from the book, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader (a collection of interesting facts and lists):
Although the Association sang about a girl named Windy, the song was actually written about a man. The composer was Ruthann Friedman and Windy, her boyfriend, was an original hippie. In that context the lyrics make a lot more sense. Example: he’s “tripping” down the streets of the city.
Friedman has long denied this story. However, she has admittedly been not all together consistent in her description of the story, but one thing she HAS been consistent about is denying that it was about either her a boyfriend of hers or about a hippie at all (which, in turn, specifically refutes the whole “it’s ‘tripping’ as in ‘tripping on drugs,’ man!!” interpretation of the song). So I think it’s pretty safe to say that it is not about a hippy and/or her boyfriend at the time.
The most recent version of the story that I have seen came from Songfacts, who Friedman told:
[H]e was another singer/songwriter, and not “a freewheeling Haight Ashbury Hippy” as often reported. Friedman says of the song: “I have heard so many different permutations of what the song was about. Here is the TRUTH. I was sitting on my bed – the apartment on the first floor of David Crosby’s house in Beverly Glenn – and there was a fellow who came to visit and was sitting there staring at me as if he was going to suck the life out of me. So I started to fantasize about what kind of a guy I would like to be with, and that was Windy – a guy (fantasy).
MUSIC LEGEND: Not only did C + C Music Factory use a different singer to lip sync to the music sung by another singer for the music video AND some live performances of their hit song “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” they did not even CREDIT the actual singer on the song!
David Cole and, Robert Clivillés were a production duo who put together the “group” C + C Music Factory, quotes because they would just hire different singers according to what they felt the song needed.
One of their most popular songs was “Things That Make You Go ‘Hmm’”…
but their biggest hit by far was the title track to their 1991 smash album, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”…
In the popular music video for the song, the booming hook of the female singer singing “Everybody Dance Now” is depicted as this woman, Zelma Davis…
Heck, it even credits her by NAME…
Davis did, indeed, sing on more than a few tracks on the album. However, she did NOT do the singing on this song.
No, the singing came courtesy of Martha Wash, seen below from a 1980s music video for her hit song “It’s Raining Men,” from her singing duo, The Weather Girls (along with Izora Rhodes, who she met when both women were working as backup singers during the late 1970s/early 1980s).
As you can see, Wash is a bit less svelte than Davis, and as a result, the producers of the group and the record label felt that she was “unmarketable.” Not only would Davis lip sync to her singing on the music video, but she would also do the same on certain live performances, like when C + C Music Factory was on Saturday Night Live.
Not only that, but Wash was not even CREDITED on the album’s liner notes!
Eventually, almost certainly buoyed by the lip syncing scandal involving the pop group, Milli Vanilli, Wash sued the record label (Columbia) to get credit (and royalties from the song’s success) and she succeeded. Not only did she succeed, but her actions at least partially inspired Congress to pass legislation making proper crediting mandatory on song releases.
It’s nice to see a happy ending!
MUSIC LEGEND: Before becoming a judge on American Idol, Kara DioGuardi was part of a musical hoax along with Dave Stewart.
Nowadays, Kara DioGuardi is best known for being on the judges on the hit TV show, American Idol (heck, at the moment, she is only one of two judges assured of returning this upcoming season, with Simon Cowell departing and Ellen DeGeneres up in the air about whether she will return)…
but DioGuardi GOT the chance to be a judge based on her successful career as a songwriter, writing many hit songs for a number of pop singers, including more than a few former American Idol contestants.
It was while working as a songwriter in 2004 that she found herself as part of an elaborate, and fairly odd, musical hoax.
In 2004, DioGuardi collaborated with Dave Stewart on some songs for the pop group, the Pussycat Dolls. Dave Stewart is best known for being one-half (with Annie Lennox being the other) of the Eurythmics.
After working on the songs for awhile, the pair felt that the music they were coming up with did not really sound like Pussycat Dolls music, but rather felt like old pop songs, similar to mid-70s Fleetwood Mac, for instance.
So the duo came up with an idea – they would release an album of their new songs themselves, but pretend that they were LOST songs from the 1970s!
The album showed up in 2005, and the band was called Platinum Weird and they put a lot of effort into maintaining the facade (all in good fun, of course, they weren’t seriously trying to convince people)…
A mockumentary was made about the group, and many famous people (including Mick Jagger) gave testimonials for a special done for Vh1 about the group, specifically its enigmatic lead singer, Erin Grace (played by DioGuardi).
The songs were meant to be from 1973, when Stewart met the young singer, Grace (who, coincidentally, would years later turn out to be DioGuardi’s neighbor in New York – you can’t make this stuff up…oh wait…).
The album was called Make Believe (wink wink)…
The album is really quite pleasant, and DioGuardi’s vocal are good. A major problem is that 90% of the songs don’t sound like they’re from the 1970s at all, but hey, at least it’s a nice pop album!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)", "It's Raining Men", "Things That Make You Go Hmm", "Windy", #1 Hit Record, American Idol, Annie Lennox, C + C Music Factory, Dave Stewart, David Cole, Eurythmics, Gonna Make You Sweat, Make Believe, Martha Wash, Platinum Weird, Robert Clivillés, Ruthann Freidman, The Association, Weather Girls, Zelma Davis