Who's Holding Donna Now

Album: Rhythm Of The Night (1985)
Charted: 6


  • This song is about a guy whose lover has been seduced by someone else. The lead vocals are by El DeBarge, who is one of the DeBarge family members.
  • David Foster wrote and produced the song with Jay Graydon and Randy Goodrum. Graydon also collaborated with Foster on Earth, Wind & Fire's "After The Love Has Gone" and Dionne Warwick's "Friends In Love." Foster and Goodrum co-wrote Chicago's "If She Would Have Been Faithful..." and Anne Murray's "You Needed Me." Graydon tells the story: "David and I were writing songs for a movie called The Woman In Red for Gene Wilder. We demoed three songs, but they were demoed almost like a Muzak style, with just the drum machine and piano and synth bass, because we had to quickly get them to Wilder. Now, we weren't locked into anything, we were just demoing these up. We wrote 'em quick and demoed 'em up. And one of them was 'Who's Holding Donna Now?' Wilder passed on all of it, and Stevie Wonder got the gig (with I Just Called To Say I Love You). I was playing the 'Who's Holding Donna Now?' track for two guys that were producing Jack Wagner, and El Debarge walked in, who I was producing at the time. He listened to that melody, and he said, 'I want to record that song.' I dropped off the tape for Randy, and he came up with a great lyric." (read more in our interview with Jay Graydon)
  • According to Goodrum, it's important to let the lyrics sink in when writing a song like this. Says Goodrum: "Some of the songs I wrote with JaR are going at a pretty good clip. But once you set the song up with two or three lines, you've got the listener in a particular gear, and as long as you stay in that gear it's gonna be a comfortable ride for that person. Then you can go up and down emotionally. I'll give you another example: when I wrote the lyrics for 'Who's Holding Donna Now?' it was slow enough to where I could put in some real meaty stand alone lines. I like lines that really fit the song, but you can just sit and think about that line for a while if you wanted to, and yet it relates to the next line."
  • The backing vocals are by Mr. Mister's Richard Page and Steve George.
  • This was the last hit for DeBarge, and their second biggest after "Rhythm Of The Night." El DeBarge had a solo hit in 1986 with "Who's Johnny." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sara - Silver Spring, MD
  • This was the last Motown single to reach the American Top 10 whilst Berry Gordy was an owner.

Comments: 2

  • Gino from HoustonWell the original version/creation of the song started off like this - I was in the library sitting next to my friend and at the same table across from us sat Donna who was a cheerleader. I could not help myself but to write a song about this sweet/pretty girl whom my friend had a crush. It was late April or first of May 1984 and was all of ours last term at Blinn. I probably wrote a good verse or more and the chorus and would wander off to sing it in the book sections where the librarian would tell me to keep it down. I lost touch with all people from my college days, but I cannot help to wander if somewhere down the road those two ended up married. I cowrote/recorded a demo with only David Foster present writer at the catalog/lounge.
  • John from Nashville, TnThis was one of Motown's last American Top 10 singles whilst Berry Gordy was the owner. The last two American Top 10 singles were Smokey Robinson's "Just To See Her" and "One Heartbeat", two songs Robinson didn't write.
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