We got it together didn’t we…? Lord, that voice. Nobody but you, and me… Thick as gravy and deep as a canyon: Mr Barry White. Add some dramatic strings and you’ve got one hell of an intro. Was this on the original single version…? I hope so.
You’re the First, the Last, My Everything, by Barry White (his 1st and only #1)
2 weeks, from 1st – 15th December 1974
After a bit of a break we’re back on a disco vibe – the sound of late-1974 – with one of the genre’s defining hits. My first, my last, my everything… And the answer to, All my dreams… A record can be as cheesy as you like, and this is a disc dripping in the stuff, but when a singer sells the vocals like Barry White sells them here… well, you can’t argue with it.
The way he belts out the Girl you’re my reality, But I’m lost in a-a-a-a dream… line, and the way he drops several octaves for the my everything… in the chorus is superb. But it’s not just the vocals that make this a classic. There are the pause-clicks between lines – perfect for drunk dancing – and the simple but effective chord progression. ‘You’re the First…’ was originally written as a slightly less sincere, country and western song: ‘You’re my First, My Last, My In-Between’. And you realise, during the interlude, with its soaring strings and backing singers, that that’s why this song is so damn catchy: it’s a simple country song, a vaudeville ditty even, dressed up as disco.
Any wedding DJ worth their salt will launch this record onto the turntable at some point in the evening. It matters not when: this is a song to dance to with wild, drunken abandon, making all the trademark ‘disco’ hand gestures. You know, the flicks and the pointing. The earnestness in White’s voice almost commands you: My first! My last! MY EVERYTHING!
I’d say that for people of my age, Barry White’s image precedes his music. Maybe it’s because most of us met him through his cameo on The Simpsons. His size, his voice, his curls… ‘The Walrus of Love’ is one hell of a nickname – though I’m not sure it’s the most complimentary – and well-earned as, according to his Wikipedia entry, White fathered ‘at least’ nine children.
He was more than just this hit and a Simpsons cameo, though. There’s ‘Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe’, a US #1 to which ‘You’re My First…’ was the follow-up, and ‘You See the Trouble With Me’ (which will be remixed and taken to #1 many years from now) among others.
In the end, the thing we all know Barry White for was the thing that sadly killed him. The Walrus suffered from exhaustion, kidney failure, diabetes and high blood pressure. He passed away at the very young age of fifty-eight, in 2003. His biggest hit, however, will live on for as long as people keep getting married (and drunk, and dancing…)