Zoom

Album: The Commodores (1977)
Charted: 38
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Songfacts®:

  • This is a track from R&B group the Commodores 1977 self-titled album. The Lionel Richie and Ronald LaPread composition is a wish for world happiness and the hope for a better place to magically "zoom" away to.
  • The song should not be confused with an earlier Motown track composed by Norman Whitfield and recorded by The Temptations, also titled "Zoom." Another "Zoom" song this sometimes gets mixed up with is R&B act Fat Larry Band's 1982 UK #2 hit, which was penned by Len Barry and Bobby Eli.
  • Commodores bass guitarist and trumpeter Ronald LaPread explained in the book Chicken Soup For the Soul: The Story Behind The Song, the sad and poignant tale that inspired this tune. His wife Cathy joined him on tour with the band but started having stomach pains. When they returned home to Alabama, she went to the hospital and learned she had cancer. She was given just two months to live. Ronald was devastated, but Cathy insisted he keep working with the band. After another set of shows, he returned home and started working on a song.

    "I sat down at the piano and started fiddling around," he said. "Cathy got out of bed and came and sat down beside me. She told me that there were nice changes but the melody should go up at a certain place. We sat there for about an hour and worked out the music.

    The Commodores had a listening session soon after and I played them another song I'd written, which they didn't like. I happened to have the tape for this song on me, although it didn't have any words yet. I played it and they asked what it was called. I said, 'It's like... Zoom' and the name stuck. I played it for our producer, James Carmichael, and he said it was nice but it needed a middle. He told me that (Lionel) Richie had a song with a middle and no beginning and he put us together to combine our songs.

    The group went into the studio before the words were done and we cut the track. I took the cassette home to work on, but I couldn't get Cathy out of my mind. The first lines that came to me were:

    I may be just a foolish dreamer
    But I don't care
    'Cause I know my happiness is waiting out there somewhere


    Richie then added:

    Zoom
    I'd like to fly far away from here


    By then we were back in Los Angeles and Cathy was in the hospital there so I could go back and forth from the studio and spend time with her. She wasn't doing well. I told Richie that I couldn't focus on it so he finished the words and recorded the lead vocal. He captured everything I was feeling. It was very quiet in the studio when they played it for me. When the song finished, everyone was crying. They knew where it came from."

    Ronald was on tour with the band in Glasgow when he got the call that Cathy was about to die. He took a Concorde and made it back to Alabama in time to say goodbye.
  • Surprisingly, this classic tune was never released as a single in the US. In the UK the song was a double A-sided single along with "Too Hot To Trot," which peaked at #38.

Comments: 5

  • Stacy J from Sylacauga, AlThis song brings out so many emotions in me. Very powerful words. Even my granddaughter age 7 loves this song and says it makes her think of many things.
  • Sabra B from Phoenix, AzI grew up listening to the commodores being a 70's baby. Zoom made me cry then and I had no clue why I just thought it was really pretty with the horns and birds. Now it means so much more and my husband plays it when he is stressed so I hear it constantly. Thank you ronald and cathy for giving us such beauty from tragedy.
  • JuanTo this day, I still love this song...now that I know that the words came from a real place, it means that much more to me. Out of tragic circumstances, they produced an enduring soul/pop classic.
  • Jerzee Rick from S Florida Loved this song as a kid, still do!
    Looking forward to my Taste in my Life!
    Great back story, LuvYah Commodores!
  • Gdub520 from So Cal Members of the group have said this beautiful song was not released as a single because it was special to them for obvious reasons and they wanted you to buy the LP to get the song. I did hear it played on radio in L.A. even if it wasn't officially released
see more comments

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