Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Nick Cave Top 75 Countdown (#03-01) & This Week's Statistics

Hello, my friends, old and new! This is the last chapter of the Nick Cave countdown. I hope that the Nick Cave fans enjoyed the stories - and the people who didn't know him found a few songs to love.

Before the countdown continues, however, let's take a minute with Cave and the movies. We more or less exhausted all the major soundtracks that he wrote in his long and illustrious career. But he also wrote a few original songs for films. Full disclosure: when I prepared this countdown, I took into account all the songs from the albums by the Boys Next Door, the Birthday Party, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, and Grinderman. Then, when the countdown was already under way, I had an "oh, shit!" moment when I realized that I failed to take into account the original songs that adorned a number of films. So, to make up for that, today's extra includes four songs that were included on soundtrack albums but not on his original studio albums. They would probably all (at least three of them) be inside our Top 75.

Nick Cave had his first mainstream exposure when German director Wim Wenders included two songs (From Her To Eternity and The Carny) in his excellent film Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin) in 1987. During filming the two men developed a good working relationship, so when Nick was asked by Wenders to contribute a song for his 1991 film Until the End of the World, Nick gladly obliged. The result was a beautiful song called (I'll Love You) Till the End of the World:

Faraway, So Close! (1993) was a sequel of sorts to Wenders' Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin). Cave contributed two songs; the title track:

... and Cassiel's Song:

Cave and Wenders seemed like a natural fit, but would you expect Nick to write a song for a blockbuster like Batman Forever? The song is called There Is a Light - and it's a pity that the film, although directed by Joel Schumacher (an out gay man with a lot of good films under his belt) and starring such notable actors as Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, Chris O'Donnell, and Drew Barrymore, wasn't very good. This is the song:

Now, let's get on with the top three. The song at #3 is my favorite from the Let Love In album (1994). For many, that would be Red Right Hand, but that, for me, is the album's second best. My favorite is Do You Love Me, Pts. 1 and 2. Dirge-like and ominous, the song comes with seditious organ shivers, murderous reverb, and Nick, tortured and tormented, pleading for love.

I include both parts because they compliment each other so well. Cave takes a leaf from Neil Young's book, bookending his album with a "hard" and a "soft" version of the same song, and I love how the two take on completely different meanings depending on which one you're listening to.

Part 1 begins as a twisted love song - and as it unfolds it gets even darker. I will include the lyrics to both parts, because they are amazing. These are the lyrics for the first part:

"I found her on a night of fire and noise
Wild bells rang in a wild sky
I knew from that moment on
I'd love her till the day that I died
And I kissed away a thousand tears
My lady of the Various Sorrows
Some begged, some borrowed, some stolen
Some kept safe for tomorrow
On an endless night, silver star spangled
The bells from the chapel went jingle-jangle"

"She was given to me to put things right
And I stacked all my accomplishments beside her
Still, I seemed so obsolete and small
I found God and all His devils insider her
In my bed, she cast the blizzard out
A mock sun blazed upon her head
So completely filled with light she was
Her shadow fanged and hairy and mad
Our love-lines grew hopelessly tangled
And the bells from the chapel went jingle-jangle"

"She had a heartful of love and devotion
She had a mindful of tyranny and terror
Well, I try, I do, I really try
But I just err, baby, I do, I error
So come and find me, my darling one
I'm down to the grounds, the very dregs
Ah, here she comes, blocking the sun
Blood running down the inside of her legs
The moon in the sky is battered and mangled
And the bells from the chapel go jingle-jangle"

"All things move toward their end
I knew before I met her that I would lose her
I swear I made every effort to be good to her
I swear I made every effort not to abuse her
Crazy bracelets on her wrists and her ankles
And the bells from the chapel went jingle-jangle"

I thought I would always connect the phrase "jingle-jangle" with Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man. Not so. You can't imagine the amount of emotion that Cave brings out of this rather prosaic expression.

Part 2 is a different beast altogether. It's a song about a gay man who either recounts his first sexual experience or was sexually molested - the song points out that for the victim, it is often difficult to distinguish between the two. These are the lyrics:

"Onward! And Onward! And Onward I go
Where no man before could be bothered to go
Till the soles of my shoes are shot full of holes
And it's all downhill with a bullet
This ramblin' and rovin' has taken it's course
I'm grazing with the dinosaurs and the dear old horses
And the city streets crack and a great hole forces
Me down with my
soapbox, my pulpit
The theatre ceiling is
silver star-spangled
And the coins in my
pocket go jingle-jangle"

"There's a man in the
theatre with girlish eyes
Who's holding my
childhood to ransom
On the screen
there's a death,
there's a rustle of cloth
And a sickly voice
calling me handsome
There's a man in the
theatre with sly
girlish eyes
On the screen there's
an ape, a gorilla
There's a groan, there's
a cough, there's a
rustle of cloth
And a voice that stinks of death and vanilla
This is a secret, mauled and mangled
And the coins in my pocket go jingle-jangle"

"The walls of the ceiling are painted in blood
The lights go down, the red curtains come apart
The room is full of smoke and dialogue I know by heart
And the coins in my pocket go jingle-jangle
As the great screen cracked and popped
The clock of my boyhood was wound
down and stopped
And my handsome little body oddly propped
And my trousers right down to my ankles
Yes, it's on onward! And upward!
And I'm off to find love
Do you love me? If you do, I’m thankful"

"This city is an ogre
squatting by the river
It gives life but it takes it
away, my youth
There comes a time
when you just
cannot deliver
This is a fact. This is a
stone cold truth.
Do you love me?
I love you, handsome
But do you love me?
Yes, I love you,
you are handsome
Amongst the cogs and
the wires, my youth
Vanilla breath and
handsome apes with
girlish eyes
Dreams that roam
between truth and untruth"

"Memories that become monstrous lies
So onward! And Onward! And Onward I go!
Onward! And Upward! And I'm off to find love
With blue-black bracelets on my wrists and ankles
And the coins in my pocket go jingle-jangle"

Ed Kuepper (of the Saints) has this little anecdote to share:

"Back in the early to mid-'90s I got asked to perform Do You Love Me? at an Aussie award ceremony. The organizers told me they needed someone of good standing to perform it as it was being awarded Australian Song Of The Year. In reality, it's more likely they couldn't afford Nick or that he didn't want to do it. I agreed. As is usual for these shows, a foreign dignitary is employed to MC, add credence to the proceedings, and boost TV ratings. At this event, it was Billy Joel. Towards the end of the evening as I was waiting outside, Billy, who was also leaving, got his driver to pull up and called out a friendly, 'Nice song, Nick.' To which I waved back and replied 'Thanks, mate.'"

"I didn't know Nick particularly well at this point. In fact I hadn't been paying that much attention being totally wrapped up in my own stuff. But hearing The Mercy Seat blew me away and after that point I did start paying attention. However I'd always thought before performing Do You Love Me? that Nick's songs were fairly singular and that in some ways couldn't be covered as they were unique to his own performance. This lent itself well to interpretation, even if that interpretation was perhaps a bit overly prettified by me."

This is Do You Love Me Pt. 1:

This is Do You Love Me Pt. 2:

This is a video for the song, that was filmed in Brazil:

This version is live on Jools Holland's show for British TV channel BBC Four in May 1998:

At #2, here is a song that I'm sure you expected to hear today. Into My Arms, from The Boatman's Call (1997) is the high-water mark of Cave's softer side. It takes the form of a love ballad, with a piano and an acoustic bass as the sole instruments used. Music journalist and critic Toby Creswell included Into My Arms in his book 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time and the Artists, Stories and Secrets Behind Them. In Cave's lecture "The Secret Life of the Love Song" to the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, he counts the song among those he is most proud of having written.

Into My Arms is a torch song like no other: a love song that encompasses the end of his long-term relationship with Vivien Carneiro, his failed affair with PJ Harvey and increasing doubts about religion. Only Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah has mixed broken bonds with broken faith so powerfully, and even that's a far grander, showier declaration than Into My Arms. There's something unbearably brittle about hearing Cave, the quintessential priapic showman, sounding so lost and lonely that he's prepared to turn to a god he doesn't believe in for help. The piano stirs and swells like an old church hymn, and lyrically it's powerfully simple: "I don’t believe in an interventionist God / But I know, darling, that you do / But if I did I would kneel down and ask him / Not to intervene when it came to you."

The opening track from The Boatman's Call found Cave refining his piano balladry to subtle, ornate perfection as he acceded to his partner's theological views in the name of pure, redemptive love: "I don't believe in the existence of angels, but looking at you I wonder if that's true." Extremists take note: religious disagreement can sound like the most beautiful music ever made.

Comforting or heartbreaking, the song molds to fit what you need from it. Soppy enough to have been the soundtrack to countless weddings over the years, it is also the song that Cave chose to sing at the funeral of his friend, INXS singer Michael Hutchence, requesting the cameras recording the service be switched off as he performed.

Here's what Guy Garvey of Elbow has to say about the song:

"The opening line just cracks me up every time: 'I don't believe in an interventionist God, but darling I know you do.' It's pure Elvis Presley theology. He must have chuckled when he wrote it. A lot of Nick Cave's love songs have a gentle humor to them. It makes me think he must have a laugh with his wife. First time I heard it was when I borrowed the album off [bassist] Pete Jobson of I Am Kloot. He asked me specifically to listen to that song. When I got round to it, I was on a bus somewhere and I must have rewound it three times to listen to it again. The last time I spoke to the great man he'd just finished a movie, another book and had two albums out at the same time. How somebody can be so prolific, and still pay attention to the lacework detail that the lyrics of this song have, is beyond me. He strikes me as a man who lives to work. And we're all better off for it."

This is the original studio version:

This is a great live version that appears on the God Is In The House DVD:

At #1 is the song that made me fall in love with Nick Cave: The Mercy Seat from the album Tender Prey (1988). I remember when I first heard it, I had no idea what the hell it was supposed to be... until the song hit the halfway point, and Nick got to repeating the chorus with just the slightest variations (my favorite is when he swaps "anyway I told the truth / and I'm not afraid to die" with "not afraid to lie") as the song became a hellish, swirling, apocalyptic tornado. I was so enthralled by it that I went and bought the album immediately. I was a fan.

The electric chair execution you can rock out to, The Mercy Seat was Cave at his most ferocious, ranting and boot-stomping his way through a death row fryer's last moments. By the end you can almost smell scorched skin. It is such a convincing performance from Cave, that one feels that he really is that convicted sociopath with religious illusions who is hell-bent to set the record straight - and in doing so, reveals the frightening black hole at the center of his being. As is usual with Cave, his twisted humor is evident on this song too. I especially like the verse:

"I hear stories from the chamber
How Christ was born into a manger
And like some ragged stranger
Died upon the cross
And might I say, it seems so fitting in its way
He was a carpenter by trade
Or at least that's what I'm told"

One of the secrets of the Bad Seeds' success is how fluid their membership is. Some 15 musicians have, at some point, formed part of the ever-changing lineup, to freshen up their sound with new ideas, fresh tics, and weirder kicks. For their fifth album, Tender Prey, they brought in Kid Congo Powers (formerly of the Cramps and the Gun Club) and multi-instrumentalist Roland Wolf to help push the Bad Seeds' sound into bolder territory. The Mercy Seat sounds genuinely sick: diseased and malformed, with shivering strings and a stark, serpent-like piano line from Mick Harvey that tries to wind and slither out of the noise-rush. Cave takes on the role of a killer condemned to death row, droning like a demented narcissist as he flits from crazed delusion ("The face of Jesus in my soup") to feverish Old Testament gibbering ("An eye for an eye / A tooth for a tooth") until the gruesome end ("And the mercy seat is glowing / And I think my head is smoking"). Cave is arguably the finest narrative songwriter of his generation, but the power of The Mercy Seat is in how fragmented it is: it's less a story than an avant-garde poem, a jumble of thoughts spilling out of some poor sod's head, and here he's less singer than he is a method actor chewing over a meaty soliloquy at the grimmest curtain call of all.

This is Cave himself talking about the song:

"I was concentrating on writing my novel, And The Ass Saw The Angel. The Mercy Seat was a song that I would add to over the months, that I wasn't really paying attention to, weirdly. It was a thing growing on the side, a kind of… organism growing on the side of the novel that I just kept adding to and adding to. It was written from a different place, a less conscious place than some of the other songs, I think. And I think it has quite a strange, obscure lyric to it in the end."

"It's a really great song - it's the staple song of the Bad Seeds live, mainly because it has the capacity to lend itself to seemingly infinite variations, and it can adapt to whatever we happen to be into at the time - a folk song, or a headbanger number. I think that was the one song I wrote when I was writing the novel."

"That record [Tender Prey] was so fucked up, the making of it was seriously difficult for everybody. The Mercy Seat was a song that we recorded and felt like it was there, and every mix we did, we went back in and remixed it, to try and get this song which we thought was monumental, to work in some kind of way, and that was really difficult. I think we even had Daniel Miller from Mute come in and try. Why was the recording difficult? Everyone was very fucked up, in a standard kind of way, and a little bit more so, and not only the band."

"When your heroes cover your songs [The Mercy Seat was covered by Johnny Cash in 2000], to me personally it gives some kind of… endorsement of the song that's really meaningful. You have the opportunity to step back from the song and actually hear it for what it is - which you never do if you're playing it live. I was really impressed. I thought, 'Fuck, that's pretty good…'"

Since this is my number one, I think I should include the full set of lyrics, so you can fully appreciate Nick's genius:

"It began when they come took me from my home
And put me in Dead Row,
Of which I am nearly wholly innocent, you know.
And I'll say it again
I.. am.. not.. afraid.. to.. die."

"I began to warm and chill
To objects and their fields,
A ragged cup, a twisted mop
The face of Jesus in my soup
Those sinister dinner deals
The meal trolley's wicked wheels
A hooked bone rising from my food
All things either good or ungood.

"And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof.
An eye for an eye
A tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die.

"Interpret signs and catalog
A blackened tooth, a scarlet fog.
The walls are bad. Black. Bottom kind.
They are sick breath at my hind
They are sick breath at my hind
They are sick breath at my hind
They are sick breath gathering at my hind

"I hear stories from the chamber
How Christ was born into a manger
And like some ragged stranger
Died upon the cross
And might I say, it seems so fitting in its way
He was a carpenter by trade
Or at least that's what I'm told

"Like my good hand
tattooed E.V.I.L. across its brother's fist
That filthy five! They did nothing to challenge or resist.

"In Heaven His throne is made of gold
The ark of his Testament is stowed
A throne from which I'm told
All history does unfold.
Down here it's made of wood and wire
And my body is on fire
And God is never far away.

"Into the mercy seat I climb
My head is shaved, my head is wired
And like a moth that tries
To enter the bright eye
So I go shuffling out of life
Just to hide in death awhile
And anyway I never lied.

"My kill-hand is called E.V.I.L.
Wears a wedding band that's G.O.O.D.
'Tis a long-suffering shackle
Collaring all that devil blood.

"And the mercy seat is a-burning
And I think my head is flowing
And in a way I'm hoping
To be done with all this weighing up of truth.
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And I've got nothing left to lose
And I'm not afraid to die.

"And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway, there was no proof
And nor a motive why.

"And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof.
A life for a life
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway there was no proof
And I'm not afraid to die.

"Now the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is smoking
And in a way I'm hoping
To be done with all these looks of disbelief.
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die.

"And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die.

"And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof.
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
But I'm not afraid to lie.

"And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
But I'm afraid I told a lie."

This is the original studio version:

This is the song's video (a shortened version of the album cut):

This is a great acoustic live version:

Johnny Cash's cover version, produced by Rick Rubin, is one of the rare instances where the cover is as great as the original:

Now, let's continue with last week's statistics; after the previous drop, there was an 8% rise in last week's visits. The solo years of Diana Ross proved to be very popular indeed. The week's winning country has been the United States, which again rose, widening the gap with France, which has once more suffered the most losses. Germany, Brazil, Spain, and South Africa increased their overall percentage, while the other major players kept their percentages more or less stable.

It's been a long time since I attached a map of the countries that have visited this blog since its birth. Here it is (people from the countries in blue have visited this blog at least once.)

Here are this week's Top 10 countries:

1. the United States
2. Greece
3. Germany
4. the United Kingdom
5. Canada
6. Brazil
7. Spain
8. France
9. South Africa
10. Australia

Here are the other countries that graced us with their presence since our last statistics (alphabetically): Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, FYR Of Macedonia, Ghana, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Martinique, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. Happy to have you all!

And here's the all-time Top 10:

1. the United States = 27.8%
2. France = 23.4%
3. the United Kingdom = 13.1%
4. Greece = 6.6%
5. Russia = 2.7%
6. Germany = 1.8%
7. Canada = 1.5%
8. Italy = 1.2%
9. Turkey = 0.99%
10. Cyprus = 0.89%

That's all for today, folks. Till the next one!

Friday, 25 May 2018

Gay Icons - The Divas: Diana Ross (part 2: solo career)

Hello, my friends! I'm having a busy week and this is the reason I was late. The week is not over, but I believe I'll find the time to complete today's second part of our presentation of Diana Ross: We'll be dealing with her solo career.

Diana had been romantically involved with Motown's big boss, Berry Gordy, since 1965. The relationship lasted several years, resulting in the birth of Ross's eldest child, Rhonda Suzanne Silberstein, in August 1971. Two months into her pregnancy with Rhonda, in January 1971, Ross married music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein, so that she would avoid having a "Love Child". Silberstein raised Rhonda as his own daughter, despite knowing her true paternity. Ross told Rhonda that Gordy was her biological father when the girl was 13 years old. Beforehand, Rhonda referred to Gordy as "Uncle B.B."

Ross has two daughters with Silberstein, Tracee Joy and Chudney Lane Silberstein, born in 1972 and 1975, respectively. Ross and Silberstein divorced in 1977 and Ross moved to New York City in the early 1980s, after living in Los Angeles since Motown relocated to the area in the early 1970s.

Meanwhile, in 1970, Ross had released her first solo album, simply called Diana Ross. This album became a pop top 20 hit in the US - and it topped the R&B chart. It contained her first two singles - and both were classics. Her first solo single was Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand). An Ashford and Simpson penned and produced number, it should've been a bigger hit. Perhaps the fact that the song was more gospel than pop confused the mainstream audience. It was a big US R&B hit (#7) but only hit #20 on the Hot 100. It was an even lesser hit in the UK, Canada, and Australia. The song, however, stood the test of time. Ross performed Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand) as the finale for the Nobel Peace Prize Concert held in Oslo, Norway, in 2008.

Her next single was a tricky proposition: Ain't No Mountain High Enough was another Ashford and Simpson composition, but it had already been a top 20 hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, in 1967. The source of the lyrics is a very popular traditional gospel song called So High. The lyrics, " It is so high (So high, you can't get over it) / So wide (So wide you can't get around it) / So low (So low you can't get under it) / Great God Almighty (You must come in at the door)" were the inspiration for the song's chorus, "Ain't no mountain high enough / Ain't no valley low enough / Ain't no river wide enough / To keep me from you." This original version of Ain't No Mountain, produced by Fuqua and Bristol, was a carefree, danceable, and romantic love song that became the signature duet between Gaye and Terrell.

However, Ms. Ross didn't want to be branded as a cover artist. Moreso as she had already recorded a version of the song in 1968 with her group, the Supremes, along with the Temptation, which was quite faithful to the Terrell-Gaye original version. Therefore, in order to re-record the song, she demanded a brand new treatment. The remake was similar to gospel with elements of classical music strings (provided by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra), spoken word passages from Ross, with The Andantes, Jimmy Beavers, Jo Armstead, Ashford & Simpson and Brenda Evans and Billie Calvin of The Undisputed Truth as backing singers, giving the song a soul and gospel vocal element. Ross' theatrical rendition of the song created a perfect pop melodrama, the best single that the Shangri-Las never recorded.

It was an instant hit: it topped both the Pop and R&B charts in the US, made #6 in the UK, and #7 in Canada. Diana Ross, Pop Diva, was taking off.

This is the (long) album version:

This is live at Caesar Palace in Las Vegas, September 1979:

Her second album, Everything Is Everything, was rush-released after the success of her debut solo album. It was a lesser hit in the US, but it took off in the UK, thanks to two songs that were released as singles: I'm Still Waiting was a #1 UK hit - surprisingly, it just missed the top 40 in the US. I especially love these bittersweet lines:

"Please don't wait for me
Wait patiently for love
Someday it will surely come
... And I'm still waiting"

Doobedood'ndoobe, Doobedood'ndoobe, Doobedood'ndoo, which, like I'm Still Waiting, was written by Deke Richards, peaked at #12 in the UK:

Diana's next album, Surrender, was a critical and commercial success, especially in the UK. Remember Me was the album's first single, peaking at #16 in the US and at #7 in the UK:

Her version of the Four Tops' classic Reach Out I'll Be There was a lesser hit, peaking at #29 in the US:

Surrender was yet another US top 40 and UK top 10 hit:

In 1971, Diana Ross began working on her first film, Lady Sings the Blues, which was a loosely based biography of singer Billie Holiday. Despite some criticism of her for taking the role, once the film opened in October 1972, Ross won critical acclaim for her performance in the film. Jazz critic Leonard Feather, a friend of Holiday's, praised Ross for "expertly capturing the essence of Lady Day." Ross's role in the film won her Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. The soundtrack to the film became just as successful, reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 and staying there for two weeks. Good Morning Heartache was a top 40 single in the US:

Strange Fruit wasn't a single, but it's one of my favorite songs (Billie's version) - and Diana did it justice. Such a chilling song:

Her next album, Touch Me in the Morning, was released in 1973 and was a top 5 hit in the US (#1 R&B). The title song, conceived by then-unproven songwriter and producer Michael Masser, was a #1 hit in the US and a top 10 hit in most major markets.

According to Masser, in a video documentary about Ross, she "always tried to push hard to get the vocals right for this particular song", calling it a "draining experience" that resulted in several near-emotional breakdowns when she wasn't up to her abilities. It was recorded in the early morning hours, as was her custom after she began raising her children. In a Barbara Walters Mother's Day interview special, her second-oldest daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, said Diana would put them to bed and record all night, in order to wake her children and send them to school the next morning.

The song comprised of three distinct parts: one languorous, one wistful, and one triumphant in the face of adversity. Once again, Ross demonstrates that her strength lies in projecting the song's palette of emotions clearly and imaginatively. Here it is:

All of My Life was also a top 10 hit single in the UK:

The album includes the first tracks Diana would personally produce on one of her albums, Imagine and Medley: Brown Baby / Save the Children. This is the latter:

In just a few months, a next album was released: Diana & Marvin was a duets album by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, possibly the top two pop and soul performers at the time. Diana & Marvin became a multi-chart success that managed to sell over a million copies worldwide.

... And rightly so. There was no filler in the album, all the songs were worthwhile. In fact, it was the rare occasion that a completely different set of singles were hits in the US and in the UK. The first big hit in the UK was You Are Everything (#5):

Then came Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart) (#25):

Meanwhile, in the US, You're a Special Part of Me was the first single (#12):

... Followed by My Mistake (Was to Love You) (#19):

... Finally, there was Don't Knock My Love (#46):

In the meantime, Diana released her next solo record, Last Time I Saw Him. It was a slow-burner, peaking lowly in the charts, but eventually selling copious quantities. The title track was the album's hit single, peaking at #8 in Canada, #14 in the US, and #35 in the UK:

Diana took time out from recording to make another movie. Mahogany was about Tracy, an aspiring designer from the slums of Chicago who puts herself through fashion school in the hopes of becoming one of the world's top designers. Producer Berry Gordy fired original director Tony Richardson and then took over the direction of the picture himself, with a little help from (uncredited) Jack Wormser.

The critics were not kind: Roger Ebert wrote, "Mahogany is a big, lush, messy soap opera, so ambivalent about its heroine that we can't even be sure the ending's supposed to be happy." The film, in time, became a cult classic.

The theme song Do You Know Where You're Going To was at first considered not acceptable "because of quality standards" for being an Oscar contender but Berry Gordy successfully lobbied the Academy into nominating it. Furthermore, one can't argue with success: the song was a huge US #1 and a big hit everywhere else.

The song was also included on Ross' 1976 album, Diana Ross (the second with this title). The album was Ross' biggest-selling album (1.3 million/RIAA) since 1973's Touch Me in the Morning. I Thought It Took a Little Time (But Today I Fell in Love) was the album's less successful second single:

The third single, however, Love Hangover, a disco classic, returned Diana to the top of the charts:

One Love in My Lifetime was the album's fourth single (#25, US):

An Evening with Diana Ross is a 1977 live double album that was recorded at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles during the international tour of Ross' one-woman show, for which she was awarded a special Tony Award after the show's run at Broadway's Palace Theater, followed by an Emmy-nominated TV special of the same name. I remember buying this album when it came out and really enjoying it. Here it is, in its entirety:

Baby It's Me (1977) yielded one Top 40 hit, Gettin' Ready for Love, reaching #27 on the US Billboard Hot 100:

Also from this album, You Got It (#49, US):

In 1978 came Ross' third starring role in Hollywood, in The Wiz. This adaptation of The Wizard of Oz tried to capture the essence of the African-American experience. Diana Ross was a bit old to play Dorothy, but she managed to pull it off. Plus, there was Michael Jackson. Here they are both, singing Ease on Down the Road (#41, US):

Ross (1978), was a mixture of older tunes Ross recorded and newer recordings. From it, What You Gave Me was a minor hit:

Lovin', Livin' and Givin' is a hidden gem that originally appeared on the soundtrack album of the movie Thank God It's Friday:

Her next album, The Boss (1979) was written and produced by Ashford & Simpson. It was disco-oriented and contained some great songs, like the title track:

... or No One Gets the Prize:

... or It's My House:

Also in 1979, a curio: Pops, We Love You was a single with star-power to spare: it united Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson. The cause was also noble: it was a tribute to the late Berry "Pops" Gordy, Sr., father of Motown founder Berry Gordy, who had died that year after a long battle with cancer. Yet, it was a flop. It peaked at #59 in the US and at #66 in the UK. Which goes to show that there are no guaranteed hits, ever. Here it is:

In 1980, diana was released and became the biggest-selling studio album of Ross' career, selling nine million copies worldwide and spawning three international hit singles, including the US and International #1 hit Upside Down:

The gay anthem, I'm Coming Out:

... and My Old Piano:

It's My Turn was the main theme from a 1980 movie of the same name starring Michael Douglas and Jill Clayburgh:

The theme from another movie, Franco Zeffirelli's Endless Love, a duet with the Commodores' Lionel Richie, was Diana's last US #1, but what a #1! It spent 9 weeks at the top of the Hot 100:

Ross dated Gene Simmons, bass guitarist and singer for the band Kiss, from 1980 to 1983. They began dating after Cher, who had remained friends with Simmons following their break-up, suggested he ask Ross to help him choose her Christmas present. Simmons, in his autobiography, contends that he was not dating Cher when he met Ross. Ross ended her relationship with Simmons when he gave Ross the erroneous impression that he'd resumed his relationship with Cher. Simmons' story differed in 2015 when he revealed that he fell in love with Ross while dating Cher, which ended Ross and Cher's friendship.

Ross met her second husband, Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Næss Jr., in 1985, and married him the following year. She became stepmother to his three elder children; Katinka, Christoffer, and folk singer Leona Naess. They have two sons together: Ross Arne (born in 1987) and Evan Olav (born in 1988). Ross and Næss divorced in 2000 after press reports revealed that Naess had fathered a child with another woman in Norway. Ross considers Næss the love of her life. Næss was later killed in a South African mountain climbing accident in 2004. Ross remains close with her three ex-stepchildren.

Meanwhile, back in 1981, Diana left her record company of 20 years, Motown, to sign with RCA for $20 million. In October 1981, Ross released her first RCA album, Why Do Fools Fall in Love. The album sold over a million copies. The title track, a cover version of the old Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers hit, made the top 10 in most major markets:

The album contained two more hit singles; Mirror, Mirror:

... and Work That Body:

The lead single from her next album, Silk Electric (1982), was Muscles, written by her friend, Michael Jackson. It was a top 10 hit in the US:

The follow-up, So Close, only just made the US top 40:

Her next album was called Ross (1983). (I love you Diana, but your album titles reveal a lack of imagination). Pieces Of Ice was the album's lead single, a mid-table hit:

Her 1984 album, Swept Away, was a return to form. The album's lead single was a duet with Julio Iglesias called All Of You:

The album's title track, produced by Daryl Hall and Arthur Baker, peaked at the same position as All Of You in the US, at #19:

My favorite song from this album, however, is its third single. A loving tribute to her close friend, the late Marvin Gaye, Missing You was one of the best Lionel Richie compositions. He also produced the track, which returned Ms. Ross to the US top 10, as well as to the top of the R&B chart:

Diana's next album, Eaten Alive (1985), was written and produced by the Bee Gees and their production team. The album's title track, a duet with Michael Jackson, was the lead single. It was, however, a minor hit:

Out of nowhere, the next single, Chain Reaction, went all the way to the top of the UK chart, as well as in Australia and Ireland. It hardly made the Hot 100 in the US though:

The title track of Ms. Ross' 1989 album, Workin' Overtime, was a minor hit (US R&B #3, UK #32):

In 1991 Diana released The Force Behind the Power. Its first single, When You Tell Me That You Love Me, became an international hit, reaching #2 in the UK, #4 in The Netherlands, #4 in Zimbabwe, and #6 in Norway, as well as making the Top 40 R&B and Adult Contemporary charts in the US:

Ultra-popular Irish boy-band, Westlife, recorded the song in 2005, duetting with Diana. The song peaked (again) at #2. Which makes Diana Ross one of the very few artists to have a hit at #1 or #2 on the UK Singles Chart for five decades in a row. A remarkable accomplishment. This is the 2005 version:

Between 1989 and 1999, Diana Ross had a number of singles that weren't released in the US but were big hits elsewhere. If We Hold on Together was a #1 hit in Japan in 1989 and a #11 hit in the UK, when it was re-released in 1992:

Also in 1992, One Shining Moment peaked at #10 in the UK and #16 in Ireland:

That's Why I Call You My Friend was a #14 hit in Japan in 1993:

Also in 1993, Your Love was a #14 hit in the UK:

Also at #14 in the UK, Ross' version of I Will Survive (1996), with a little help from RuPaul and company:

Finally, in 1999, Not Over You Yet peaked at #3 in Belgium, #6 in Hungary, and #9 in the UK and Scotland:

Let's remember the chart accomplishments of Diana Ross:

As a member of the Supremes:

33 of the Supremes' singles reached the Billboard Top 40 in the United States, 23 reached either the US or UK Top 10. 12 of them reached the number-one position on the US pop chart, with Baby Love topping the UK pop chart. 12 of their albums reached the Top 10 in either the US or UK, with five of them reaching number-one.

As a solo artist or in duets:

Her discography consists of 25 studio albums and 91 singles. 27 of her singles reached the Billboard top 40 in the US, 12 of them the Billboard top 10, and six of those reaching number one, placing her in a tie for fifth among the top female solo performers who have reached the top spot there. In the UK, she amassed a total of 47 top 40 singles with 20 of them reaching the top 10 and two of those reaching number one. In the US, 17 albums reached the Billboard top 40, four of those the top 10, and one album topped the chart. In the UK, 26 albums reached the top 40, eight of those the top 10, and one album topping the chart. Ross had a top 10 UK hit in every one of the last five decades and sang lead on a top 75 hit single at least once every year from 1964 to 1996 in the UK, a period of 33 consecutive years and a record for any performer. She continues to collect gold and silver awards for UK sales of her many greatest hits compilation albums.

On March 22, 2006, Ross' televised Central Park concerts, entitled For One & For All, are named TV Land Awards' Viewer’s Choice for Television’s Greatest Music Moment.

Ross headlined the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway. Backed by a 30-piece orchestra and a local boys' choir, Ross performed several of her classic hits.

In February 2012, Ross received her first ever Grammy Award, for Lifetime Achievement.

On July 3, 2014, Ross was awarded the Ella Fitzgerald Award for "her extraordinary contribution to contemporary jazz vocals", at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.

On November 19, 2017, Ross received the American Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross performed several of her iconic hits, ending with Ain't No Mountain High Enough, during which she brought all of her grandchildren onstage. Oldest grandson, 8-year-old Raif-Henok Emmanuel Kendrick, son of Rhonda Ross-Kendrick and husband, Rodney, performed an impromptu dance performance behind his legendary grandmother, and stole the show, according to critics. Ross was then joined onstage by all of her children, their spouses, first ex-husband Robert Ellis, Smokey Robinson(who brought Ross to Motown) and Motown founder, Berry Gordy.

And the show isn't over yet...