Right Time Of The Night by Jennifer Warnes (Arista, 1977)

jwrtotn45

Quick trivia question: Which artist has sang on the most number of songs to win an Academy Award for Best Original song? That’s right, Jennifer Warnes with 3 (It Goes Like It Goes, Up Where We Belong, (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life). And although she doesn’t have any of that hardware on her mantel, I’m sure she’s quite satisfied knowing it was her performance that put the song over the top and got those writers their award. In fact I’m sure Jennifer is pleased to have the career she’s had. Many singers don’t have a #1 song to boast about: she has two. And it only took her 10 years to have her first hit single, which she parlayed into another 10 years of success.

Jennifer got her start in music working in the LA folk scene in the mid-to-late 60s, making connections with musicians like Jose Feliciano and a comedy show writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. After a short stint as a background singer on said show, she got a record contract with Parrot and put out 2 albums in the late 60s to little fanfare. It was during the turn of the decade when she met singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen and began singing back up on tours and albums for him. Another album came and went in 1972 and Jennifer waited for the next opportunity.

That came in 1976 via Clive Davis who was now running Arista Records, which was owing much of their success to emergence of soft rock balladeers, such as Barry Manilow and Melissa Manchester. Jennifer worked her mellow alto into a solid LP ready for release. But Clive didn’t hear any hits and yada, yada, yada….you know where this story is going. A last minute addition to Jennifer’s Arista debut came in the form of a song written by Peter McCann and recorded by a pre-fame John Travolta 4 years earlier. The lyrics Peter wrote were deemed a little too masculine. So lines like:

We’ll go drinkin’ in some heavy bar
I’ll take you night ridin’ in my chevy car
When it’s me and you baby
We could think of somethin’ to do

were changed to the more feminine:

No use cryin’ when the shadows fall
Night bird’s callin’, and he says it all
You and me baby
We could think of somethin’ to do

OK, let’s compare the two. The guy version assumes that the couple is gonna get drunk, drive to a remote spot and get it on. Yes, it’s the guy’s suggestion, but it sounds like they may have had this plan before. Why couldn’t Jennifer couldn’t sing those lyrics? She’s already coming on to the guy and telling him the time is right to make love.

The lady’s version starts off with a denial of tears. Ok, who’s tears are you talking about? If someone in this equation is bawling, then it’s definitely not the right time for, um, balling. And what other night bird is there except an owl? And if he’s chirping Who? Who?, what exactly is he trying to say? Or maybe he’s just crunching on a Tootsie Pop.

Regardless I think the original lyrics were fine and more in tune with this song’s country leanings. Rock that pedal steel…Weeeee-oooooh! In fact Jennifer took this 45 into the Country Top 20 as well as Top 10 Pop and #1 Adult Contemporary and secured her place as one of the Whitest songs to bump uglies to. Know anyone who was conceived in early May 1977 aka the right time?

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2 Comments

  1. I know this song,. She is hot.

    Reply
  2. She also did another hit, “I Know a Heartache when I see one.” http://www.jenniferwarnes.com

    Reply

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