Thanks for shining a light on the great Paul Davis. Shortly after Paul’s death in 1967, my mother, Ilene Berns, signed Paul to my father’s Bang Records label, hosting hits for 10 years, including “Ride ‘Em Cowboy ,” “Sweet Life,” and “I Go Crazy,” which once held the record for longest-running charts on the Billboard Hot 100. “Cool Night” and “65 Love Affair” were his last releases as a pop artist before he moved to Nashville and played for Tanya Tucker and Dan Seals. To me and my siblings, Paul was a true father and a little-known musical genius.
Born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1948, Paul had a local success in 1969 with “The Mississippi River,” which caught my mother’s attention. She inherited a label without an artist because Van Morrison and Neil Diamond left Bang immediately after my dad died and brought Paul to New York City to record my dad’s first hit in the same studio” A Little Bit of Soap” was the musician my father worked with during his epic 7 year run. Too broke to pay Paul’s signing bonus, she gave him my dad’s convertible Jaguar XKE. Not long after, we moved south to Atlanta, where my mother relocated Bang Records, established the legendary WEB IV studio, and brought Paul to Georgia. The rest is history. Paul Davis would go down as one of the greatest singer-songwriters of his time.
Unfortunately, Paul’s legacy is also one of the most obscure of its era. He never did a proper tour due to his fear of flying. Deep shyness kept him out of the public spotlight. Paul died suddenly the day after his 60th birthday, bringing an end to his extraordinary musical output. But to those in the know, Paul Davis’ extensive body of work is as rich and varied as any of his peers. Like my father, he was excluded from the cabaret, and Paul Davis deserves to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
boom!The Burt Burns Story
Thank you for remembering the genius of Paul Davis.
“I Go Crazy”, “Ride ’em Cowboy”, “65 Love Affair”, “Cool Night”………….. there are a lot of hits out there.
I had the pleasure of working on 65 Love Affair…..if I remember correctly it was 55 Love Affair…Clive made him change it to 65.
Nice to remember Paul Davis.
Paul is a very generous and kind man. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Atlanta was struggling to find its mark in the music recording business, but Paul and Web IV Studios engineer/producer Ed Seay were trying to make it happen.
The Web is just a few doors down from the studio where I work, and it was a treat to ring the bell and let them in no matter what time of night it was.
Later I wrote some songs with his backing band. Paul came in and did some backing vocals and the vibe was so pure, calm and real!
He passed away prematurely in 2008, but his impact was so flawless.
Paul is a quiet and shy man. He left prematurely.
We sat in his basement studio in Atlanta with his friend and producer Ed Seay, admiring their artistic talents.
Thank you, Bob.
Here it is, Bob!I’ve been a composer/musician for 40 years
The “cool nights” that always appeal to me… like 3:30pm, you drive, you just have to have a Big Mac… you’re driving through your Mac in your own guilty world of pleasure, sitting in the parking lot Savor every bite. I’ve never bought that record…I don’t know anyone who has, but that song never switches when it’s on the radio…it has an irresistible knack to it. Most of my musician friends agree. Simple soft rock genius.
thank you for your work
Today’s news really impressed me. In 1981, I was an “on-air man” (they didn’t like the term “disc jockey” because all the music was on carts) at a radio station in Indiana. A woman I met at an event blew my mind and we were married ten weeks later. That’s when “cool nights” are in rotation. I was on duty on Friday, and everyone in the audience knew I was getting married that night. When I came out of “cool nights,” I called my soon-to-be wife’s radio to tell her the weather forecast for the next few days for our honeymoon in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Unfortunately, I had “Cool Night” blaring on the studio speakers and she didn’t hear me saying, “We’re airing…” When I told her what the weather was like, she replied…Live… …”Honey, how long are you going to be out there?”
I’ve heard — and lines like “How ‘cool’ are you in Tennessee at night?” — our first year of marriage!
Life changes. As you mentioned, Paul Davis has left. My wife died of cancer after 25 years of our marriage. “I Go Crazy” is a Paul Davis song that got me through.
We all deal with loss. You won’t “get over” it…you will “go crazy” every now and then…but you have to move on. Music will help you do this.
Wow. What a flashback, Bob.
My parents would go out to dinner on a Saturday night and leave the kids with me for a babysitter and a night of crap TV…
(CHiPs, Love Boat, Fantasy Island)…
Beyond “Solid Gold,” it gives suburban budding musicians a listen to current hits and a sneak peek at the coolest new keyboard gear.
(“Who cares if they lip-sync? Did you see that Prophet-5?” I would protest to my friends).
I remember this video like it was yesterday. It’s still a great song. And he died too early.
All of this is correct! …especially Steely Dan is not Yacht Rock (how could they be lumped together) I would argue with people… lol
Christopher Cross’ “Sailing,” a song I might have despised when I was younger, is actually a reflective masterpiece
And the album budget! …back in my major record label days we would send a band into the studio for a few months or at least a month, now as a record label owner myself, if we could be in the studio for 7-10 days, we Just luck, but thanks to pre-production and home studios these days, sometimes that’s enough…but to your point, nobody makes Pet Sounds anymore or spends a day studying the sound of cymbals.
Cerberus Mgmt / Curve Music
For those of us born in the late 60’s to early 70’s, soft rock/yacht rock music was the staple of our youth. We’re stuck in the backseat of our parents’ station wagon, and we’re constantly influenced by Ambrosia, Little River Band, Bread, and Paul Davis. We hated it at the time, but it got into our brains and stuck with it. It stuck so well that now we put our kids to the same songs and they (reluctantly) love them too. Songs like “Cool Night” are best enjoyed with fresh coffee and the New York Times on Sunday mornings. It’s like a warm blanket.
This Sunday morning, for your consideration, I made this playlist, which is in the top 1% most watched on Spotify. It only has 500 likes, which says a lot about user-generated playlists on Spotify, but I’m still proud of it.
Thanks for a great post about the most guilty pleasure music ever made.
So you had me and Same Old Lang Syne listening to I Go Crazy back to back. Two songs could be the same piano. They were mushy like mush, but still perfect. Both Paul Davis and Dan Fogelberg died young.
I grew up near Salem, MA in the late 70’s where there wasn’t much to do at night other than cruise around and play with my friends. I drive a real s..tbox, but oddly, it has a Blaupunkt radio and four speakers. My friends and I would drive anywhere and come back up and down the radio dial from WBCN to WAAF (I think those were call signs) singing to Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Humble Pie and Ten Years After. But when Toto comes on the radio, we’ll be quiet, wishing we’d be driving down country roads and we’d all be singing to ourselves.
‘Cool Night’…I can’t place it. Then I saw the lyrics at the end of your email and I started singing out loud. For some reason, it reminds me of Bread’s “Guitar Man,” which I sang while doing laps on the Big Wheel before I learned to ride a bike.
What a way to wake up. Thanks Bob.
46 years professional musician, you think I have thin skin and I’m weak? ? Like I can’t stand fire? come on… hurry up…
Thanks for making me sound like a little jerk.
Can you imagine Paul Davis’ career if he wasn’t at Bang Records?