Starting Over Again

Album: Dolly, Dolly, Dolly (1980)
Charted: 36

Songfacts®:

  • This heartbreaking song was written by Donna Summer (yep that Donna Summer) and her husband Bruce Sudano. It tells the story of a middle-aged couple divorcing after 30 years of marriage and was based on Sudano's parents' own breakup. "Starting Over Again" was a #1 Country hit the week of May 24,1980.
  • Summer prized Dolly's recording of the song. "I loved it," she said. "It was so exciting to me. You can cut it, but it's not the same as when someone else cuts your song. The ability to transform another person's life or to enter their being is so profound."
  • We assume you're au fait with the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer. If not, here's a list of her songs on our database. But singer/songwriter/producer Bruce Sudano also has an impressive musical resumé. Originally a member of the band Alive N Kickin', who had a hit in 1970 with "Tighter, Tighter," Sudano later founded the R&B/disco group Brooklyn Dreams, best known for "Heaven Knows," a collaboration with Summer that went to #2 in 1979. Sudano also co-wrote Summer's #1 hit, "Bad Girls."
  • Bruce Sudano and Donna Summer were married and living in Hancock Park, Los Angeles, when they wrote this song. Sudano worked on it on a Fender Rhodes piano he had set up in a back bedroom. Summer's only contribution came when she poked her head in and suggested the lines:

    And all the king's horses
    And all the king's men
    Couldn't put mommy and daddy back together again


    That ended up being the most memorable part of the song; many listeners know it as the "all the king's horses song."
  • In a Songfacts interview with Bruce Sudano, he said he wasn't trying to reunite his parents with this song. "I was merely painting a picture of these people who had been married for 30 years, and here they are by the end of the song, two fools starting over again because basically, both of them had gone from their parents' house into this marriage," he said. "So it's 'starting over again, where do you begin when you've never been out on your own.' And, 'All the king's horses and all the king's men could not put them back together again,' I was just merely reflecting my emotion.
  • Sudano's father didn't appreciate the line in this song, "He's out scheming big deals," but it was true to life. "That was really one of the straws that broke the back of the marriage," said Sudano. "Because my father was a dreamer, but he always had another scheme to 'make it.' And, in fact, maybe it should have been dream because he was a dreamer. And my parents always, ALWAYS, encouraged me to dream. They never said, 'You'll never make it Bruce, get a real job.' They always said, 'Go for it.' They always believed in my talent and encouraged me. So, my father was probably right, I should have written, 'He's out dreaming big deals.'"
  • This song came to the attention of Dolly Parton after Donna Summer sang it on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Summer was supposed to sing "MacArthur Park," which was her current hit, but that song required a complex arrangement that was beyond the scope of the Tonight Show band. So Summer instead sang "Starting Over Again," using her showcase to perform a song she wasn't planning to record. She told Sudano that if she sang it on the show, maybe his parents would get back together. Unfortunately, the Lifetime movie ending was not to be and they stayed divorced. But the next day, Dolly Parton's people called to ask about the song. Nobody had recorded it yet, so Parton became the first.
  • Nashville was always close to Summer's heart, and the Queen of Disco and her family moved to the Music City in 1994. Donna took the opportunity to mingle with many of the city's top writers and performers and became a board member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
  • Summer never recorded the song herself, but she did sing it live on TV several times. Here's some footage of one of her performances.
  • A cover recorded by Reba McEntire for her Starting Over album peaked at #19 on the Country chart in 1996.

Comments: 1

  • Staley from Austin, TxAlice Randall regularly claims to be the first African-American woman to write a #1 Country song (with "XXX's & OOO's (An American Girl) which hit #1 for Trisha Yearwood), but Donna Summer beat her by several years with this song.
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