You Light Up My Life
Writer(s): Joe Brooks (see lyrics here)
Released: August 16, 1977
First Charted: August 27, 1977
Peak: 110 US, 18 CB, 113 HR, 16 RR, 11 AC, 4 CW, 48 UK, 15 CN, 7 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 7.0 video, 16.5 streaming
Awards: (Click on award for more details).
About the Song:
Despite the sentimental nature of this romantic love ballad, the story of how it ended up with Debby Boone isn’t quite so sweet. Joe Brooks wrote the song for the 1977 movie You Light Up My Life, which he wrote and directed. SF The story was about a girl, played by Didi Conn, who is trying to make it in show business. In the movie, she is seen singing the song in the studio. SF Conn lip synched it in the movie, but Kasey Cisyk, best known for singing jingles, actually sang it and her version was featured on the soundtrack. While Brooks was initially pleased with Cisyk’s version, her second husband, Ed Rakowicz, said Brooks retaliated against her for rebuffing improper advances. He wouldn’t speak to her and avoided making payments, eventually recouped in a lawsuit. WK
Brooks commissioned Debby Boone, the daughter of legendary singer Pat Boone, to sing a new version of the song. In an effort to mimic the original as much as possible, the same orchestra track and piano was used for Boone’s version. She has also said that Brooks allowed her no freedom in how to sing the song; she was directed how to sing every inflection so it matched the original recording. WK She has said in interviews that Brooks was so mean to her, that she was reduced to tears. SF
Her version of “You Light Up My Life” was released as the first single to her debut solo album of the same name. It became the biggest #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit of the 1970s. Its 10 weeks on top of the chart made it the biggest #1 since Elvis Presley topped the charts for 11 weeks in 1956 with his double A-side hit “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog.”
It scooped up a number of year-end awards, including a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, an American Music Award for Favorite Pop Single, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It even garnered Boone a Grammy for Best New Artist. She never had another top 40 hit on the Billboard pop charts, but she did crossover to the country charts.
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First posted 10/30/2019; updated 4/28/2021.