“Endless Love” by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie (1981)

1981 wasn’t exactly a great music for pop music, but it’s worth mentioning that three songs from that year spent an inordinately long time at Number One on the pop chart, and they’re all really good songs. “Bette Davis Eyes” had a nine week run at the top in the spring, and Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” closed out 1981 and entered 1982 with a whopping ten weeks at the summit. In between, Diana Ross closed out her Motown career in style with “Endless Love”, which also doubled as the official solo debut of the Commodores’ Lionel Richie.

The dramatic love duet was also a movie theme. I can’t say I’ve ever seen “Endless Love”, but it looks like one of those films you either enjoy when you’re sick in bed with the flu or you are stoned as fuck and can’t sleep at 4 in the morning. It’s one of Tom Cruise’s oldest film roles, and apparently he plays an arsonist. It’s probably awful and great at the same time. Actually, some of you may feel similarly about the song. Different strokes for different folks.

“Endless Love” mostly reminds me of my aunt and her husband, who had a huge role in raising me. They eventually had three kids, and I guess I was their practice. I’m surprised that taking on the care of a troubled pre-teen didn’t make them change their minds about raising a family. Ha. At any rate, they were college sweethearts, “Endless Love” was their wedding song back in 1984, and they’ve been married ever since. And despite my feelings on marriage and monogamy (not particularly positive about either), they are the couple that reminds me that a more traditional relationship/cohabitation/marriage set up can actually work. In nearly forty years of experiencing them as a couple, I’ve barely ever seen them disagree, let alone argue.

Endless love, indeed.

Two more quick thoughts:

-“Endless Love” was released on Motown Records. Right before the single came out, Diana announced that she was leaving Motown, the only recording home she’d ever known. Do you think that Berry Gordy might’ve laid some extra promotional grease on this song as kind of like an “I’ll show you!” situation? As it turns out, “Endless Love” was Diana’s longest running chart-topper. And it was also Diana’s final chart-topper. After moving to RCA (where she recorded from 1981-1987 before returning to Motown), she didn’t even have another top five pop hit.

-How do I feel about the Luther & Mariah remake from 1994 (which went on to become Luther’s biggest pop hit, peaking at #2 behind Boyz II Men’s execrable “I’ll Make Love To You)? I mean, it’s pleasant. Luther and Mariah are two of the greatest singers to ever live. Pleasant as it was, it also felt like karaoke then (and feels even more like karaoke now). “Endless Love” is one of those songs for which there is one definitive version and that’s it.

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