Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)

Album: Mahogany Soundtrack (1975)
Charted: 5 1
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Songfacts®:

  • This was the theme song to the 1975 movie Mahogany, starring Ross as Tracy Chambers, a woman from humble beginnings who becomes a glamorous fashion model using the name "Mahogany." The movie was directed by Berry Gordy Jr., who worked with Ross as head of Motown Records.

    Mahogany was Ross' second film; in 1972 she played Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. Both films also star Billy Dee Williams.
  • Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser wrote this song. Goffin was married to Carole King, and wrote many famous songs with her, including "The Loco-Motion" and "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman." Masser wrote "Touch Me in the Morning" for Ross in 1973, and wrote several hits for Whitney Houston.
  • This song was not written for the movie; Goffin and Masser wrote it in 1973 and had Thelma Houston record it, but her version was never released (it did appear on YouTube). When Berry Gordy asked Masser to compose music for Mahogany, he revisited "Do You Know Where You're Going To." The verses were changed a bit to suit the storyline, but the major elements of the song - including the arrangement and chorus - were kept intact.

    For Houston, it was another tough break, as she had been recording for years without a hit. She finally came out on top with her 1976 disco hit "Don't Leave Me This Way," which went to #1 in the US.
  • The song is about evaluating life's journey, asking if what lies ahead is what you really want. It's appropriate for the film, as Ross' character finds that fame and fortune may not be what makes her happy.
  • This song caused a kerfuffle when it was deemed "qualitatively ineligible" for an Oscar, meaning it wasn't good enough to even be nominated, even though it was one of the most popular songs of the year. The ensuing uproar led to this decision being revoked, and it was nominated for Best Original Song, losing to "I'm Easy" by Keith Carradine (from the movie Nashville).

    Diana Ross was on tour in Europe, but performed the song live via telecast, becoming the first singer to do so at the ceremony. She was in Holland and sang it while walking the streets of Amsterdam. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Andy - Glasgow, Scotland
  • This song makes the bad grammar category because it ends a statement in a preposition. Proper grammar would be "Do you know where you're going?," but that wouldn't scan very well.
  • Along with Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," this was one of the most requested graduation songs. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tiffany - Dover, FL
  • Mahogany was also Masser's first assignment as a film composer, but Gordy was confident in his ability to handle the score - which made him even more nervous. "Berry said, 'Michael this is probably going to be your best work because it's your first time around," Masser told Diana biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli. "After that, I sat and sat, just trying to figure out how I was ever going to pull this off. I read a book on scoring and it had all of these real fancy words in it, but no meaning of music. So basically what I did was work it all out at home in front of a video machine. I played the entire film through with the dialogue turned off, so that I could get the feeling of expressions between Diana and Billy Dee. And then I watched the entire film over again, this time recording music right over the visuals. I'd play the piano anywhere I thought there should be music. I figured that if the sound was good on the piano in its basic form, then it could only sound as good or better when orchestrated. Rather than use a cerebral approach to the music, I used an emotional one and the result is the score you hear."
  • This was used on the TV shows Everybody Hates Chris ("Everybody Hates the Gout," 2006), Pretty Little Liars ("I'm a Good Girl, I Am," 2015), and Scandal ("Thwack!," 2016).
  • Several artists covered this, including Johnny Mathis, Shirley Bassey, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez. Puff Daddy also borrowed it for the hook of "Do You Know" from his debut album, No Way Out. Big Sean and Metro Boomin also sampled it in "Go Legend" from their 2017 album, Double or Nothing.

Comments: 13

  • Wendy from TennesseeI remember watching her sing this song on the Oscars that night! Mom and Dad let me stay up later to see it!
  • Beemish from Denville, NjAccording to the liner notes of the 2012 reissue of the "Diana Ross" album, this song was originally intended for Motown label mate, Thelma Houston but quickly reassigned to Ross as it fit the mood of the movie so well. Ross played Tracey Chambers in the movie and was nick-named "Mahogany" by her photographer.
  • David from Birmingham, AlAccording to the Don Kirsher bio "The Man with the Golden Ear" the writer of this song, Gerry Goffin says it was written about his ex-wife, Carole King.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThis song was nominated for Best Song at the 1975 Academy Awards {Lost to "I'm Easy" from the movie "Nashville"}!!!
  • John from Nashville, TnThe song almost did not get nominated for an Oscar because it was not written for the movie. It was released as a single two years earlier by Motown artist Thelma Houston (Motown single #1260). However, music industry big wig Clive Davis spearheaded a campaign to get the song nominated. Due to this effort, the Academy committee bended the rules.
  • John from Nashville, Tn"Do You Know Where You're Going To" was originally recorded by Motown artist Thelma Houston in 1973. Her version was released as Motown single #1260.
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlAT THE TIME when this song was released, and Berry Gordy and Diana Ross were in Italy filming "Mahogany", former Supreme Florence Ballard was living in poverty, riding the public bus system because she did not have a car, and applying for welfare to support herself and her three children.
  • Madalina from Azuga, RomaniaI think that somebody gave her up for someone else, or rather for being free, for a career or because his dreams didn't involve her too. And now he's probably realising what he gave up to, and she feels quite sorry for him, though being a little ironic reminding him about all their plans, and suggesting how happy they could have been together. Or at least this is what I understand from this song.
  • Mike from Santa Barbara, CaA beautiful theme song to a poor movie.
  • Donald from Seattle, WaSimply put, my favorite song. (or one of them) The title asks the best question: where is your life taking you? what does your life mean? and another great quote "we've let so many dreams just slip thru our hands". It is a good warning not to waste your life just pursuing making a living. I enjoy the vocal and the violin music is heavenly
  • Mike from Knoxville, TnFor the record: the song's proper title is "THEME FROM MAHOGANY". I clearly remember hearing this song for the first time while sunbathing on Miami Beach with family in 1975. I recall the dj (at WHYI or WQAM) saying something goofy like "MAHOGANY had the longest ending of any top 40 song in history". Those were his words.
  • Spencer from Bronx, NyI find this to be a very melancholy song. Is it about a woman who preferred to be free and flighty when she was younger and passed up a chance to be with somebody who loved her?
  • Candice from Vancouver, CanadaMariah Carey did a remake of this.
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