Almost Paradise

Album: Footloose Soundtrack (1984)
Charted: 7
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Songfacts®:

  • "Almost Paradise" is the love theme to the movie Footloose, starring Kevin Bacon as a city kid who moves to a small town where dancing in public is outlawed. Dean Pitchford wrote the screenplay for the movie and the lyrics to all the songs. He wanted a lot of variety in the music, so he used seven different co-writers, including Eric Carmen, who wrote this song with him.

    In a Songfacts interview with Dean Pitchford, he told the story: "I had a one bedroom bungalow in West Hollywood, and we were seated in the living room, and we were tossing out ideas. I had come in with the title 'Almost Paradise,' because I had been riffing on a lot of titles that had to do with religion and salvation, very much in keeping with the tone of the minister and the preacher and the church background of the motion picture. So 'Almost Paradise' was the given.

    But I remember sitting there and tossing out lines and coming up with, 'I thought that dreams belonged to other men, because each time I get close they'd fall apart again.' And he liked that very, very much. I was sitting there and I said, 'Oh, how about this, 'I feared my heart would beat in secrecy'?' And he jumped up from the keyboard and he ran over and he hugged me, and he said, 'That's f--king GREAT! That's one of the most brilliant lines I've heard!' And he said, 'We've got to do a lot more of this writing.' And it was that line, 'I feared my heart would beat in secrecy' that sort of joined us at the hip. From that point on, we wrote all day.

    That song was written in a day, but in an 11-hour, 12-hour day. The next morning we went into the studio and into the office of our director, who had an upright piano installed in his office specifically to hear all the songs as I created them, with my various collaborators. Eric and I went in and we sang - I brought a girlfriend of mine in to sing the female part, and Eric sang the male part, and that sold that song."
  • This song is a duet between Loverboy lead singer Mike Reno and Heart frontwoman Ann Wilson. Heart had a run of hits in the '70s but were in a slump, with their 1982 album Private Audition and 1983 album Passionworks selling poorly. Loverboy was the hotter band, with their 1983 album Keep It Up delivering the hits "Hot Girls In Love" and "Queen Of The Broken Hearts."

    The Footloose producers contacted Wilson first, and asked her for a list of preferred duet partners. Her list included Paul Rodgers and Lou Gramm, but it was Mike Reno - not on the list - who was chosen. They recorded the song together at a session in Chicago with Keith Olsen, who had worked on the Passionworks album and also the 1975 Fleetwood Mac album, producing. Wilson was nursing a broken wrist, but stayed off painkillers so she wouldn't be compromised during the session. They put their vocals down over the track that had already been recorded, then went their separate ways. Wilson thought it was a great song, but was still surprised it was released as a single. She was even more surprised when it became a staple of proms and weddings.

    "It was the first of its kind," Wilson told Songfacts. "It was at the very dawning of the bombastic ballad era. I just think it was a great song. A killer song."
  • This song's writers, Dean Pitchford and Eric Carmen, later collaborated on Carmen's 1988 hit "Make Me Lose Control," but this was the first time they worked together. Pitchford told Songfacts: "I think Eric was in a kind of a cooling off period in his career and had left his label. He really came roaring back when 'Hungry Eyes' went on to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and then Arista signed him up again. He wasn't viable as an artist, but he was one of my favorite, favorite songwriters. I always thought that Eric Carmen was a beautiful melodist. Look at 'Boats Against the Current,' look at 'All By Myself.' Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff. And so he flew in from Ohio and agreed to write with me, but we had no idea who the artist was going to be. But we turned out a song that a lot of people wanted to record, and we were able to get Ann Wilson of Heart and Mike Reno of Loverboy. Being able to snag two of the monster voices in '80s pop music was a real feather in our cap. But that was simply a case of I knew we needed a ballad, I knew we needed a duet, and I knew that Eric Carmen was the guy to deliver the high emotion of that. And then after that it was just a case of shopping it and we got answers right away, emphatically, from those two."
  • "Almost Paradise" was a harbinger of hits to come for Heart, who made an impressive comeback in 1985 with the hits "These Dreams," "What About Love," and "Never." It was a transition for the band toward songs with more pop appeal composed by outside writers.
  • Eric Carmen said of this song: "That was really the first time that I had collaborated seriously with anybody. The music side of things has always been very easy for me. I had to work really hard on the lyric side. John Kalodner asked me if I'd be interested in writing the love theme from Footloose. I flew out to LA I met Dean Pitchford for breakfast at 7, we went over to Paramount at 9, we watched the film. There was another song plugged into the hole where 'Almost Paradise' was supposed to be. I think it was 'Waiting For A Girl Like You' by Foreigner.

    We saw the film, and at noon we were back at Dean's house, and I said, 'Give me one line.' He said, 'Almost paradise, we're knocking at heaven's door.' We spent 12 hours on the song. It was done by midnight. We had to write the bridge the next day and play the song for the people at Paramount. I was amazed - here was a guy who could write lyrics as quickly and as easily as I could write music.

    We went and sang it for the producers and directors, and we were terrified. There was a wall in Dean's office, and it had 'Love Theme From Footloose by Dean Pitchford and whoever' and a slash mark through it, and there was another one underneath, and another one underneath that. I looked at that wall the first day, and I said, I will not be another slash mark off 'Love Theme From Footloose' that didn't make it in the movie, with my name sitting there, for the next guy to come in and say, 'Oh, Eric Carmen didn't do it either.'"
  • This was the fifth of six US Top 40 hits from the movie Footloose; the title track and "Let's Hear It For The Boy" both went to #1. "Almost Paradise" also hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
  • In 1988, Ann Wilson sang another big ballad duet for a major motion picture: "Surrender To Me," the love theme from Tequila Sunrise, starring Mel Gibson and Michelle Pfeiffer. This time, her duet partner was Robin Zander of Cheap Trick.
  • Victoria Justice and Hunter Hayes recorded a new version of this song for the 2011 redux of the Footloose movie.

Comments: 4

  • Dominic from PrincetonI thought this was "Almost Parrot Ice," you know, like the frozen squishy drink you get at a truck stop? Bamn good stuff!!! As good as it gets!!!
  • Sandy from Enterprise, FlI swear, this song couldn't be any more erotic, even if Rick James & Tina Marie had recorded it. In other words, it's freakin' orgasmic.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxAnn Wilson broke her arm just before this song was recorded and refused any painkillers, fearing they would affect her voice. She gutted it out with her arm in a sling, tears streaming down her cheeks. Makes this song even more powerful to hear.
  • Roger from Scanterbury, CanadaA well 'memorized' song for me in'84. Grad year, first love, etc.... aahh memories
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