Chris de Burgh wrote his massive 1986 hit song as a commentary on the fact that the average man fails to remember what his wife was wearing when they first met. “Lady in Red” chronicles in loving detail the day that de Burgh first met the woman he was destined to marry: Diane Davison. “Lady in Red” was the second single from his 1986 album Into the Light, and instantly propelled him from a hard-working but relatively unknown niche artist to major international superstar. The video, complete with a lady in red, received massive airplay on all the video channels.
Ever since 1986, Chris de Burgh’s career has been inextricably linked with “Lady in Red”. It’s a song that inflames the passions of many who hear it, but positively and negatively. It is among the most loved and the most hated songs of the 1980s.
"Love of My Life" by Queen
Freddie Mercury, the lead singer, and mastermind behind the acclaimed British rock band, Queen, wrote the song "Love of My Life" for his ex-fiancée and best friend, Mary Austin. It debuted on the band's famed studio album- A Night At The Opera. Mercury was 24 when he met Austin, who was 19 at the time. They told interviewers how they instantly felt a connection and soon fell deeply in love. After living together as a couple for 7 years, they separated. Mercury confessed that he was attracted to men, and Austin confirmed that she knew that he was, in fact, gay. Nonetheless, the two remained close-knit, and Mercury even bought Austin an apartment right down the street from his, so they could remain in close proximity to each other. Eventually, Austin moved away, got married, and had 2 children- one of which was Mercury's god-son.
Most people found it difficult to understand the nature of their relationship. Mercury once explained “All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible. The only friend I’ve got is Mary, and I don’t want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage…We believe in each other. That’s enough for me. I couldn’t fall in love with a man the same way as I have with Mary.” You can catch a glimpse of their complex relationship as depicted in the film 'Bohemian Rhapsody' (2018).
“MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris
“MacArthur Park” was a huge hit for Richard Harris in 1968. Its classic easy listening format was nonetheless embellished with intricate time signatures and an overall complex structure. Few people would have guessed that the song was born of a difficult and painful breakup on the part of songwriter Jimmy Webb. Webb had been dating a lady named Susie Horton. They would often spend their time in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park, since he worked in an office building nearby. The lyrics to the song simply document Webb’s feelings and sights as we walked around pondering the relationship he had had and its demise.
As big a hit as Richard Harris’ original 1968 version of this song was, it was nothing compared to Donna Summer, at the peak of her career, when she released a cover version in 1978. Set to disco music, it was a number one hit and one of the biggest songs of the year. Later, in 1993, “Weird Al” Yankovic released a parody called “Jurassic Park”.
“Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel
Billy Joel was finally getting over his recent divorce, which is a much easier thing to do when you’re an internationally famous rock star. So he dated 19-year-old supermodel Elle MacPherson, and then he dated (and eventually married) yet another supermodel, Christie Brinkley. It seems like he originally wrote his smash hit “Uptown Girl” with Elle in mind, though by the time it was released, Christie was the lady in his life, so she stars in the video.
In the song, Billy portrays a not very rich “downtown man” trying to woo a wealthy and refined “uptown girl”. Originally, due to the numerous posh and beautiful women he was surrounding himself with at the time, he was going to call the song “Uptown Girls”. Billy has claimed that the style of the song was inspired by the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and it’s not hard to see why. Billy Joel, one of the most successful musicians in history, has been reinventing himself for decades. His 1983 album An Innocent Man, which featured “Uptown Girl” alongside other huge hits including “Tell Her About It”, “The Longest Time”, and more, is among his best selling and most highly acclaimed. A tribute to the popular music styles of his youth in the 1950s and 60s, it is notable for its exuberant sense of optimism.
“I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash
One of the most defining country-western musicians ever created one of his biggest hits with “I Walk the Line” shortly after his marriage to Vivian Liberto, his first wife. He meant it as a declaration of fidelity since she was his first wife. While we can't speak about fidelity, Cash would eventually divorce Liberto in order to marry June Carter.
In the 2005 biopic about the man in black, the song was used as a ballad to help Cash woo Carter, a slight manipulation of events, one has to admit. It's still one of the most famous country songs ever.