This Masquerade

Album: Breezin' (1976)
Charted: 10
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Leon Russell wrote this song and originally released it as the B-side of his 1972 hit "Tight Rope." The song is about a couple who are going through a masquerade, pretending that they are still in love, when in fact they are both unhappy with the relationship. It's a lonely game they play.
  • George Benson was a well-respected jazz guitarist when he released his album Breezin'. Most of the album was typical of his jazz guitar style, but this song, which was the only one on the album containing vocals, became his first hit. It set the stage for more popular vocal recordings by Benson. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • On the Breezin' album, this song runs 8:03. Most radio stations shied away from it, since they didn't want to devote that much airtime to Benson, who wasn't well known at the time. The song found some fervent fans, however, including Ty Bell, a disc jockey at the New Orleans radio station WYLD. When Eddie Pugh, who was the National Black Music Promotions Director for Benson's label, Warner Bros. Records, paid a visit to the station, Bell played him a tidy edit he made of "This Masquerade" running under four minutes.

    Returning to Los Angeles, Pugh played the edit for the song's producer, Tommy LiPuma, but they needed authorization from higher up before they could release a short version. At their Monday morning meeting, Pugh presented the edit and asked that they make "This Masquerade" their focus single, giving it a strong promotional push. to the entire Warner Bros. body of shot callers," Pugh told us. The brass at the label (including Chairman Mo Ostin and President Joe Smith), were intrigued and swayed by support from Rosalie Trombley, the music director at the Windsor/Detroit radio station CKLW, who was ready to go "all out" on Benson's Breezin' album. "The station was a trailblazer, a trendsetter and a powerhouse," Push told us. "With CKLW in the mix, it was the belief that several major Top 40 stations would follow suit. The final answer on "Masquerade" was given two days later: Yes."

    A 3:17 radio was released, and Benson had his first Top 10 hit.
  • This song won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1977.
  • Jorge Dalto played the piano on this track. A jazz-fusion player, Dalto also played with Tito Puente and Gato Barbieri.
  • Other artists to record this song include the Carpenters, Shirley Bassey, Robert Goulet, Helen Reddy, and Kenny Rogers.
  • According to Eddie Pugh, who was in charge of marketing this song, the record stores he worked kept asking him about the new Stevie Wonder song - he had to explain that it was actually George Benson.
  • This was used in the season 1 Miami Vice episode "Heart of Darkness" (1984) and also in the season 1 episode of Atlanta, "Value" (2016). Movies to use the song include The Pursuit of Happyness and Bug, both from 2006.
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Comments: 7

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI always liked this song and the Carpenters' cover of it was amazing -- probably the best thing they ever did.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 2nd 1976, George Benson performed "This Masquerade" on the NBC-TV program 'The Midnight Special'...
    At the time the song was at #54 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; a little over seven weeks later it would peak at #10 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 19 weeks...
    It reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Was track two of side one from his Warner Brothers debut album, Breezin', and on July 25th, 1976 the album peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    Between 1976 and 1984 he had fourteen Top 100 records; four made the Top 10, his other three Top 10 records were "On Broadway" {#7 in 1978}, "Give Me the Night" {#4 in 1980}, and "Turn Your Love Around" {#5 in 1982}...
    George Benson celebrated his 72nd birthday four months ago on March 22nd {2015}.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaOK you guys, settle down! I also knew and liked Leon Russell's Carney album 5 years before George Benson ever recorded the song. However, I also like Gerge's jazzy take on it, too. I like 'em both, how 'bout that?!
  • R. H. from Pauls Valley, OkHey, Rodd. Don't read too much into my comment. I have probably been listening to music long before you, kiddo! I know all about covers and an artist's particular take on a song. I wasn't trying to "discredit" Benson. George Benson is a great musician. I didn't like the the song being listed as by George Benson instead of Leon Russell. I'm sure there are quite a few people (probably even you) that have never heard the original. Russell's version has a... dreamier, almost haunting sound to it. I'd heard and loved this song many, many times before Benson's version. Just don't like Benson's version that's all. So settle down. Didn't say I didn't like George Benson or that he isn't talented. Is that enough logic for you?
  • Rodd from Dallas, TxR.H. - While Leon Russel is amazing in his own right, do not discredit George Benson, just because you like Russell better. There is no logic in your statement. Many artists do cover's of other artist's music and almost all performer's are singing a song written by someone else. Benson put his personal touch on the song and people obviously liked it because it became a hit. Russell made plenty of money off of the royalties for it. I am sure that Leon Russell is VERY happy that George Benson had a hit with it. It is a testimony to the talents of both men.
  • R.h. from Pauls Valley, OkSorry folks but this a Leon Russell song from the album "Carney" in 1972 and is MUCH better than Geoege Benson's version. It's not jazzy like George's cover. George Benson got famous for this song. Let's give credit where credit is due and that is to Leon Russell. Those of you that have not heard the original version are obviously too young and should NOT give so much credit to Benson.
  • Lalah from Wasilla, AkDon't ever, erver listen to the Kenny Rogers version of this song. It couldn't have sounded worse than if William Shatner covered it. Who'd have thought that George,a phenominal guitarrist, could sing. If he hadn't have sung this masquerade then only those weird jazz people would know him.
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