R.I.P. LAURA BRANIGANIn the bag I carry around when I need something to keep my stuff in, I have three "greatest hits" CDs from 1980s divas: Juice Newton - Greatest Hits (and More) (for "Angel of the Morning" and "Queen of Hearts"), Super Hits: Bonnie Tyler (for "Total Eclipse of the Heart")*, and, of course, Laura Branigan's The Best of Branigan. Amazingly enough, those three women are all singers whose music my father liked to play loud on our stereo in the 1980s.
So, yes, as you can imagine, I was saddened to hear about the sudden death of Laura Branigan last Thursday, at the age of just 47.
From the BBC:
Singer Laura Branigan dies at 47
US pop star Laura Branigan, who enjoyed hits with the songs Gloria and Self Control in the early 1980s, has died of a brain aneurysm in her sleep aged 47.
Branigan, also an actress, was nominated for four Grammy Awards and her Gloria single reached number two in the US chart in 1982.
She complained of a headache for two weeks before she died but did not seek medical attention, her brother said.
She died on Thursday at home in East Quogue, New York, her family said.
After the success of Gloria, she also enjoyed chart hits with How Am I Supposed To Live Without You? and Solitaire in 1983, and Self Control the following year before her chart career faded.
Gloria was a remake of a 1970s Italian pop song, while How Am I Supposed To Live Without You? was co-written with a then-unknown Michael Bolton.
She was first choice to sing All Time High, the title tune to James Bond movie Octopussy - but eventually lost out to Rita Coolidge.
But she did contribute to film soundtracks including Flashdance and Ghostbusters and dueted with David Hasselhoff on the track I Believe for the Baywatch soundtrack in 1994.
Although she continued to release albums, her profile never returned to the level she enjoyed in the early 1980s.
Also an accomplished actress, her roles included TV show Chips and films Mugsy's Girl and Backstage.
One of her last appearances was playing rock legend Janis Joplin to rave reviews in New York stage musical Love, Janis.
Born in Brewster, New York, Branigan had begun her career at the Academy of Dramatic Arts and became a backing singer for Leonard Cohen before getting a solo record deal.
Eh, to be honest, when I listen to the CD, I usually just skip ahead to "Self Control" and "Gloria", her two greatest hits, though sometimes I also listen to her cover of Jennifer Rush's "Power of Love", which is much better than Céline Dion's version. I knew there was one other song of hers I was forgetting, and it was "Hot Night" from the Ghostbusters soundtrack, which isn't on the Best of Branigan CD. Still, that's more hits than most people ever get, so I don't see why certain people on the official Laura Branigan message board, in posts written shortly before her death, got to be so critical of her not having any recent hits and taking a while to come up with a new CD (which will probably be fast-tracked now). So what? Axl's been promising us the new Guns N' Roses CD, Chinese Democracy, for years and years and we're still waiting. It's not that unusual.
If I remember correctly, I first heard "Self Control" on the radio in someone's station wagon as I was being driven home, along with Philip C., from Cub Camp, at, I think it was, Camp Tamaracouta (someone who had a lot of old Beetle Bailey comics, for some reason), and, for some reason, "Self Control" is the song I most strongly associate with the summer of 1984, when I was 9. so that, if I ever do a movie set in 1984, that would be the song I would choose for the soundtrack. No, this story doesn't go anywhere interesting.
I'm speculating the reason most news sources seemed to have waited a couple of days before picking up this story is that they didn't already have a pre-written, "fill-in-the-blanks" obituary ready, since Branigan was still relatively young, at least too young to die.
She will be missed.
City life painted girls
In a day nothing matters
It's the night time that flatters
In the night no control
Through the wall something breaking
Wearin' white as you're walkin'
Down the streets of my soul
You take my self you take my self control
You got me livin' only for the night
Before the morning comes the story's told
You take my self you take my self control
Another night another day goes by
I never stop myself to wonder why
You're makin' me forget to play my role
you take my self you take my self control
I I live among the creatures of the night
I haven't got the will to try and fight
Against a new tomorrow
So I guess I just believe it
That tomorrow never comes
Night I'm livin' in a moment of a dream
I know that life is not as it would seem
I must believe in something
So I make myself believe it
That this night will never go
*Interestingly enough, the Juice Newton CD has a cover of Bonnie Tyler's early hit, "It's a Heartache", but the Bonnie Tyler CD is missing it, probably due to rights issues.