“Superstar”*

*1969 song written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell with a songwriting credit also given to Delaney Bramlett.

From: Little Girl Blue (2010), by Randy L Schmidt:

“…The musical guest was newcomer Bette Midler, performing a song about a groupie who longs for one more tryst with her rock star. Originally titled “Groupie,” its roots go back to Rita Coolidge, who gave songwriter Leon Russell the basic idea for its theme. Coolidge joined Russell and the song’s co-writer, Bonnie Bramlett (of Delaney and Bonnie), on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour where she performed it. By tour’s end it had been renamed with the simple yet dramatic one-word title: “Superstar.”

Although Karen had heard “Superstar” on a promo copy of the Mad Dogs and Englishmen live album, Midler’s performance was Richard’s first exposure, and he immediately heard its potential. It was understated and backed only by piano, a contemporary twist to the classic torch song style. He was especially taken with the song’s hook, perhaps even catchier than that of “Rainy Days and Mondays.”…

…Knowing the song would never find a place on Top 40 radio stations with the lyric “I can hardly wait to sleep with you again,” the Carpenters opted for the more radio friendly “be with you again.” The song’s publishers were delighted with the word change and told Richard how that singular line had kept numerous artists from recording the song.

…In a 1972 interview (Karen) explained…”I’ve seen enough groupies hanging around to sense their loneliness, even though they usually don’t show it,” she explained. “I can’t really understand them, but I just tried to feel empathy, and I guess that’s what came across in the song.”…”

Paul Sexton wrote at udiscovermusic.com on December 19, 2020:

“…Like Eric Clapton, Russell was part of the circle of musical friends that came to be known as Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. As far back as the mid-1960s, Leon and Delaney Bramlett had played together in the Shindogs, the house band for the hit TV music show Shindig!

In a BBC Radio 2 documentary on Russell by this writer in 2010, Singing This Song For You, Russell explained the song’s origins. “Rita Coolidge was the first person I ever heard use that word, ‘superstar,’” he said. “She was talking about Dionne Warwick, who was down in Memphis cutting a record, and Rita said ‘She was the first superstar I ever saw.’

“So that kind of struck me, I was not familiar with the word, and I started trying to write [the song], and I ended up finishing it with Bonnie Bramlett,” he continued. “And then Karen [Carpenter] sang it, and of course she had a definitive version.”

…In another moment of poignancy, Bonnie Bramlett performed the song live at Music City Roots Live in June 2016, with Leon in the audience, just five months before his death.”

From Wikipedia:

“A torch song is a sentimental love song, typically one in which the singer laments an unrequited or lost love, either where one party is oblivious to the existence of the other, where one party has moved on, or where a romantic affair has affected the relationship. The term comes from the saying, “to carry a torch for someone”, or to keep aflame the light of an unrequited love.”

From: Tunes of the Twenties and All That Jazz – The Stories Behind the Songs (2015), by Robert Rawlings:

“According to Edward Shanaphy, it was “My Melancholy Baby” that was responsible for the term “torch song” as a reference to a sentimental love song. An American singer named Tommy Lyman liked the number and adopted it as his theme song sometime around 1915. During a show one night during the early 20s he supposedly announced, “and now my famous torch song: “Come to me My Melancholy Baby.”

The song was originally published in 1911, with the music by Burnett but lyrics by his wife, Maybelle E. Watson. The publisher liked the song but not the lyrics, so Norton supplied new words and the song was republished. Early interpretations treated the song as a fast dance number, but by the mid 20s it was generally considered a ballad.”

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