[The cover for the vinyl single of “Talk It Over”, released in May 1988.]
People have asked me about origins of my hit “Talk It Over”. It is an interesting one.
I discovered the song at the co-writer Sandy Linzer’s house in suburban New Jersey one day in 1986. It was gathering dust in a file of old song demos in his basement. I was trying to get a record deal and was looking for a song for my demo reel. Sandy agreed to look for something that might fit my voice. Sandy, who had some big hits for people like Frankie Vall & The Four Seasons, Kool & The Gang and The Toys, had co-written and recorded a very rough demo of “Can’t We Talk It Over In Bed” along with co-writer Irwin Levine. He played it for me and told me Smoky Robinson had passed on it. He was about to play me the next song he had in mind, when I said “Stop! Let me hear that last one again!”
I immediately heard a hit in it, but it would need extensive changing around. With Sandy’s blessing, I took it home, slowed it way down, changed the key to fit my voice, added a few chords and wrote a very detailed arrangement, adding electric sitar, thick gospel- style background vocals, and used a warm synth sound I had designed which I called “exploding organ”. I had changed the attack and velocity, etc. on of the pre-set sounds on a Korg Poly 61 (preset #85, to be exact), and created something that could only described as a puffball exploding with a long warm echo tail.
In hindsight, I should have asked for a “co-writing” credit. I’ve heard songwriters (and producers) do less and get one. But suffice it to say, I was young and naive and I was happy to write the arrangement that would best suit my voice. So you could say that I breathed life into a song that would have just continued to languish as a demo in a forgotten drawer. I made it my own.
I recorded this arrangement and it became one of the songs RCA loved when they decided to sign me as an artist in 1987.
My producers, Michael Baker and Axel Kroell, didn’t want to change a note of my arrangement and RCA wanted to release it as my first single from “Blind To Reason”, which was released in September of 1988.
[My producers Axel Kroell (eft) and Michael Baker (right) in the hallway of RCA Records in New York.]
Somehow Sandy obtained a “right of first release” for this song for Oliva Newton-John with my own publisher, behind my back. I was not happy with this, to say the least. But legally we had no choice but to wait. Her version (which, by the way used my arrangement without crediting me of course) fizzled and died, and we then released “Talk It Over” as my second single. “Tears Of Love” was my first and did decently well. The video for it, shot in Big Sur, CA, enjoyed a modest run on VH1 and MTV.
But “Talk It Over”went on to become a big hit for me. It was number 19 in Billboard Hot 100 charts for 9 weeks in the Summer of 1989, number 9 in the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts for nine weeks and rose to number 4 in the Australian charts for 10 weeks. The video was featured in heavy rotation on VH1, MTV and BET.
And here’s the story of the video.
[RCA promo shot, 1988. I was doing my best Elvis impersonation.]
The song was climbing the charts in early ’89 and RCA wanted me to do a video for it.
So I left my band in Minnesota once cold wintry day. We had just played at the club Prince had made famous) and flew to London. , where director Nick Brandt (who also directed videos for Moby, XTC, Michael Jackson, Jewel) had the sets all built and the actors all cast. And I never did figure out where he got a yellow cab in London!
We filmed the song several times, standing in a half-crouched position in oversized suitcases with no bottoms. By the time were done, my thigh muscles were burning and my lower back was about to fall off. But it paid off, with what became an award-winning video for a song that became an international hit for me. The video turned out to be a very popular one, shown alot on MTV and VH1. It even enjoyed a three month run on the silver screen in selected movie theaters across the U.S. and overseas as well.
Thanks again, Nick, for this great concept and production. And thanks to the actors/actresses that did such a superb job here – We were introduced, then we went our separate ways, but I’ve never forgotten how all of you added so much to this video.
TO SEE THE VIDEO FOR “TALK IT OVER” CLICK HERE.
One thought on “TALK IT OVER: FROM FORGOTTEN DRAWER TO THE RADIO”
Grayson great to read all of this. I was in touch with you a few years ago when I was stationed at Fort Dix, NJ. Keep up the good work my friend.
Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Snider