The Comfort Zone

Album: The Comfort Zone (1991)
Charted: 62
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Songfacts®:

  • After being pressured into giving up her Miss America crown in 1984 because she posed nude when she was 19, Vanessa Williams found her comfort zone as a singer, with a successful debut album in 1988. Her first single, "The Right Stuff," was co-written by Kipper Jones, who joined forces with the producer Reggie Stewart to write "The Comfort Zone" for Williams, which became the title track to her second album.

    Jones and Stewart gathered intel for the song by visiting Williams on the set of the movie Another You, which she starred in alongside Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. She told them she was in a good place, a comfortable place. Jones used that conversation as the basis for the lyric, and Stewart put the track together with a Soul II Soul vibe.
  • We often hear about how we need to get out of our comfort zones to succeed, but there's something to be said for finding your comfort zone and enjoying your time there. "Now, we're in the new millennium and we know that if we stay in our comfort zones, we never get what we want out of life," the song's co-writer Kipper Jones said in a 2022 Songfacts interview. "But this was a different time, and it was OK to be in a comfortable and familiar place. It's a destination I think a lot of us still strive to find. You don't always have to bust out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you need to find and seek comfort."
  • This was released as the second single from the album, following the uptempo "Running Back To You." Both songs made an impact, but the next single, the ballad "Save The Best For Last," was a monster hit, going all the way to #1 in America.
  • The sound collage at the beginning starts with the tuning of a radio dial, as Williams is looking for her musical happy place. She finds it when "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." There's a bit of French in this section as well, a female voice that says "Bienvenue dans la zone de confort," which means "Welcome to the Comfort Zone."

    This was Kipper Jones' idea. He incorporated some French in "The Right Stuff," and thought it would also work here. To get the translation, he called a woman he knew who was a French teacher, and had her say the line over the phone, which they mixed into the song.
  • The "oh yeah," and "check this out" vocal stabs are samples of Darryl McDaniels (DMC) from a live recording of Run-DMC's "Here We Go."
  • The prominent flute in this song was played by Hubert Laws, a renown jazz and classical flautist. The engineer on the session, Gerry Brown, had the idea to use a flute and made the connection.

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