That's What Friends Are For

Album: That's What Friends Are For (1985)
Charted: 16 1
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Songfacts®:

  • Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager wrote this for the 1982 movie Night Shift, where it was recorded by Rod Stewart and played over the closing credits. This version was not released as a single, but the songwriters thought it had lots of commercial potential and had Dionne & Friends record it in 1985. The song hit the top spot on January 18, 1986 and stayed there for four weeks - the only other song that lasted as long at the top that year was "Walk Like An Egyptian" by the Bangles.

    Bacharach and Bayer Sager, who were married in 1982, wrote another 1986 chart-topper together: "On My Own" by Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald. That one stayed at the top for three weeks.
  • "Dionne & Friends" is Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Gladys Knight. They recorded this song as a single to raise money for the American Foundation For AIDS Research (AmFAR). AIDS was a widely misunderstood disease in 1985, and this recording helped draw attention to the cause and educated people about the disease. Proceeds from the song raised over $500,000 for AmFAR.
  • The Dionne & Friends version won Grammy Awards for Best Pop Performance by A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Song Of The Year. Surprisingly, the Performance award was Elton John's first Grammy - somehow none of his previous material was deemed worthy.
  • Warwick was one of the first artists to reach out to the AIDS community by recording this song. She explained: "It was kind of given to the problem itself to raise funds and awareness. Those who felt they didn't want to be involved with it-to be seen giving money or being heard talking about the crisis-that song was an avenue to reach out without any stigma."

    Warwick was also asked how this song has endured in other arenas outside of the AIDS connection. The singer replied: "I've gotten into wonderful conversations regarding the song being used for graduations, weddings, births, somebody's birthday, or just friendship in general. You know, in all of those instances, they get it."
  • The four vocalists on this song each recorded their parts separately. Bayer Sager, who produced the song with Bacharach, said that putting it together was like doing a jigsaw puzzle. The singers did all come together for the music video. "It was a very emotional evening in which a lot of tears were shed," Bayer Sager said.
  • "Dionne & Friends" was originally just Dionne. She recorded a string of hits written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in the '60s before an acrimonious parting with the songwriters. She finally reunited with Bacharach to record the theme song to a short-lived 1984 TV series called Finder of Lost Loves. Bayer Sager suggested that Warwick record "That's What Friends Are For," but when Dionne heard it, she envisioned it as a duet with Stevie Wonder. Dionne put down her tracks, and when Wonder arrived to do his part, Elizabeth Taylor and Neil Simon dropped by. Knowing of Taylor's commitment to AIDS research, Bayer Sager suggested they made the song a charity effort, and all agreed it was a great idea. They decided to add another singer to the mix, so Gladys Knight was invited. The last piece of the puzzle was Elton John, who was suggested by Clive Davis, head of Arista Records (which released the single).

Comments: 9

  • Mc Ajidagba from Kaduna,nigeriaI just can't stop listening to this song...even after many years.It's a soul smasher.
  • Anders Alexander from Sydney, AustraliaA hilariously poor a capella cover of 'That's What Friends Are For' features in the film 'Bridesmaids' (2011), sung by Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne.
  • Milky from NigeriaThe very first time i heard about this song through my friend whatsap status, I couldn't hold myself and not a minute of sleep throughout that day. So touching and best RNB song have heard in my life. Each day I listen to this song of Donnie & Friends, I feel like having memory of my early phase of life when I was 5years old. Couple with the voice texture of the vocalists, it was so amazing. watching the video clip of the song makes me rethink of my childhood friends. Indeed, That's what friends are for counting on someone who is dear to you both in good time and bad time. This song is evergreen. Grandma Dionne Warwick, grandpa Stevie Wonder, grandpa Elton John and grandma Gladys Knight you all ever going to be remembered for impacts created by this single track.
  • Kent from Greensburg, PaThis is one of those rare songs where four big name recording artists collaborate and make a great song together. Plus the fact that they all got their start in the 60s just adds to the wow factor of this song as well as recording it for charity!
  • Reza from Shiraz, Irana great song and all the proceeds went to charity. this is the real aim of art.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdI know Dionne isn't what she was but since she did several "remakes" of her songs maybe there could be a new one. Since Rod Stewart did the original let's have Rod Stewart, Dionne Warwick, Michael McDonald and Celine Dion (and more!)
  • Julia from Knoxville, TnI am glad that I found this web site, because it allows me to either share sentiments or vent something about what I was feeling when this song was popular. In this case, it's the latter. I was in the 6th grade when this song was new, and I did not like it then and still find it hard to like. During that time, I was bullied by quite a few kids and my having friends was nowhere on the radar screen. Now that I've said that, the healing process can now begin, so that next time I hear the song, I won't feel as hurt. I now have quite a few friends, and I am happily married, so my life is much better in the social sense. Sometimes, it just takes longer than expected to get over these hurts that were brought upon me in middle school.
  • John from Fort Worth, TxYikes! I just noticed who "And Friends" were. I only recognized Dionne Warwick's vocal when I heard the song over the many years. I didn't know much else about this song until now (I love songfacts.com). I certainly didn't mean to slight Stevie Wonder, Elton John or Gladys Knight. Now I can understand even better why this version made such an impact on me and the public when it was released, aside from the significance of the song lyrics at that time. I will listen more closely to this beautiful rendition of the song from now on.
    John Martin, 46, Texas
  • John from Fort Worth, TxUp until now I thought I was the only person who remembered that Rod Stewart first sang this very popular song as the closing theme of the 1982 film, "Night Shift." When Dionne [And Friends] Warwick released the song later nobody mentioned Rod Stewart's version, as I can remember over these many years (current date Oct. 23. '07). It is a beautiful song and it has been sung wonderfully by all the talented artists who have the pipes to sing it well. John Martin, 46, Texas
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