You Can Do Magic

Album: View from the Ground (1982)
Charted: 59 8

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about a skeptic who doesn't believe in love until he meets a girl who shows him it's real.

    The song was written by Russ Ballard, whose other compositions include "I Know There's Something Going On" by Frida and "New York Groove" by Ace Frehley.
  • America had three members - Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek - until 1977 when Peek left to pursue a career in Christian music. Beckley and Bunnell continued as a duo, but struggled to find a hit - their only Hot 100 entry from 1977-1981 was a cover of "California Dreamin'" that made #56.

    Until Peek's departure, the band always wrote their own songs, composing separately with the writer also taking lead vocals. When they found themselves hitless, Beckley and Bunnell started accepting songs from outside writers, including Russ Ballard, who wrote a track on their 1980 album Alibi called "I Don't Believe in Miracles." For their next album, View from the Ground, Ballard gave them "You Can Do Magic," and with a lead vocal by Gerry Beckley, it returned America to the charts.

    "It fit right into our body of work," Beckley told us. "It was a huge hit and a turning point for us, because it was a hit for Dewey and I, after Danny departed. It was our first hit as a duo."
  • A key component in this song is the "do do do do do do" vocal break, which Russ Ballard put into the song specifically to suit America, whose two vocalists could create a nice harmony. This part was a nod to the Crosby, Stills & Nash song "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," which contains a similar section.

Comments: 1

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI didn't realize for years that America did this song. It sounded nothing at all like their previous hits.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

CommercialsFact or Fiction

Was "Ring Of Fire" really used to sell hemorrhoid cream?

Dr. JohnSongwriter Interviews

The good doctor shares some candid insights on recording with Phil Spector and The Black Keys.

Did They Really Sing In That Movie?Fact or Fiction

Bradley Cooper, Michael J. Fox, Rami Malek, Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney: Which actors really sang in their movies?

Spooner OldhamSongwriter Interviews

His keyboard work helped define the Muscle Shoals sound and make him an integral part of many Neil Young recordings. Spooner is also an accomplished songwriter, whose hits include "I'm Your Puppet" and "Cry Like A Baby."

SugarlandSongwriter Interviews

Meet the "sassy basket" with the biggest voice in country music.

MetallicaFact or Fiction

Beef with Bon Jovi? An unfortunate Spandex period? See if you can spot the true stories in this Metallica version of Fact or Fiction.