Re-Paul Davis/Cool Night

Thank you for shining a light on the great Paul Davis. My mother Ilene Berns signed Paul to my father’s Bang Records label shortly after his death in 1967, presiding over a decade of hits that included “Ride ‘Em Cowboy,” “Sweet Life” and “I Go Crazy,” which once held the record for the longest chart run on the Billboard Hot 100. “Cool Night” and “65 Love Affair’ were his last releases as a pop artist, after which he moved to Nashville and wrote a number of country hits for the likes of Tanya Tucker and Dan Seals. Paul was a true father figure to my siblings and I, and a musical genius the world knows little about.

Born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1948, Paul had a regional hit with “Mississippi River” in 1969 that caught my mother’s attention. She had inherited a label with no artists, as Van Morrison and Neil Diamond left Bang immediately after my father’s death, and brought Paul up to New York City to record my dad’s first hit, “A Little Bit of Soap,” using the same studio musicians that my father worked with during his epic 7-year run. Too broke to pay Paul a signing bonus, she gave him my dad’s convertible Jaguar XKE. Not long afterward, we moved south to Atlanta where my mother relocated Bang Records, built the legendary WEB IV Studios, and brought Paul to Georgia. The rest is history. Paul Davis would become one of the greatest singer-songwriters of his time.

Unfortunately, Paul’s legacy is also among the most obscure of that era. Due to a fear of flying, he never properly toured. And a deep shyness kept him out of the public spotlight. Paul’s sudden death a day after his 60th birthday put stop to his extraordinary musical output. But to those in the know, Paul Davis’ expansive body of work is as rich and diverse as any of his peers. And like my father, who has been left out of the Song Hall, Paul Davis deserves to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Brett Berns

Director

BANG! The Bert Berns Story

________________________________________

Thank you for remembering the genius that was Paul Davis.

“I Go Crazy”, “Ride ‘em Cowboy”, “65 Love Affair”, “Cool Night”………..lot of hits there.

I had the pleasure of working “65 Love Affair”…………IF my memory is correct, it was originally “55 Love Affair”…..Clive got him to change it to 65.

Mike Bone

________________________________________

So great to remember Paul Davis.

Paul was an incredibly generous and kind person. At the time in the late 70s and early 80s Atlanta was struggling to find its mark in the music recording business, but Paul and engineer/producer Ed Seay at Web IV Studios we’re making a real go of it.

Web was just a few doors down from the studio I worked at, and it was a real treat to be able to ring the bell and be let, no matter what time of night it was.

Later on I worked on some songs with his backing band. Paul came in to do some backing vocals and the vibe was just so incredibly pure, peaceful and REAL!

He passed away too early in 2008, but his influence was so perfect.

Will Eggleston

________________________________________

Paul was a quiet and shy guy. He is gone before his time.

We sat in his Atlanta basement studio with Ed Seay, his friend and producer, and marveled at their artistry.

Thanks for this, Bob.

Jon Sinton

________________________________________

Here here Bob! I’ve been a songwriter/working musician for 40 years and there is something about
‘Cool Night’ that has always pulled me in…Like when it’s 3:30 pm and your driving and you just have to have a Big Mac..you pull into the Mac drive through in your own guilty pleasure world, sit in the parking lot savouring every bite.  I never bought the record..I don’t know anyone who did, but that song never gets switched when it comes on the radio…It has a secret sauce in it that is irresistible.  Most of my musician friends agree.  Simple soft rock genius.
Thanks for the piece
Geoff Gibbons
Vancouver BC

________________________________________

Today’s message really struck me. In 1981, I was an “air personality” on an Indiana radio station (they didn’t like the term “disc jockey” as all the music was on carts). I was thunderstruck by a woman I met at an event and we married just ten weeks later. “Cool Night” was in heavy rotation then. I worked my air shift on Friday and every listener knew I was getting married that night. As I came out of “Cool Night,” I called my soon-to-be wife on the air to tell her the weather forecast for our honeymoon the next few days in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

 

Unfortunately, I had “Cool Night” on so loud over the studio speakers, she didn’t hear me say, “We’re going on the air…” and when I told her what the weather was going to be, she responded…live on air…”Honey, how much time are you planning to spend outside, anyway?”

 

I heard about that – and lines like “How ‘cool’ were your nights in Tennessee?” — for the first year of our marriage!

 

Life changes. Paul Davis is gone, as you mentioned. My wife passed from cancer 25 years after our wedding. “I Go Crazy” is a Paul Davis song that helped get me through that.

 

We will all deal with loss. You don’t “get over” it…you will “go crazy” from time to time…but you have to move forward. And music will help you do just that.

 

Scott McKain

________________________________________

Wow. What a flashback, Bob.

My parents would go out to dinner on Saturday nights, leaving kid me with a babysitter and a night of junk tv…

(CHiPs, Love Boat, Fantasy Island)…

Except “Solid Gold,” which gave a suburban, budding musician in the making a listen to the current pop hits, and a peek at the coolest new keyboard gear.

(“Who cared if they were lip-synching? Did you see that Prophet-5?” I would say in protest to my friends).

I remember this video like it was yesterday. It’s still a great song. And he died way too soon.

Jon Regen

________________________________________

All of this is spot on!…particularly Steely Dan not being Yacht Rock (not a chance how did they ever get lumped into that) I’ll fight people over this …lol

Christopher Cross’ “Sailing” a song I may have despised in my youth, is in fact a Masterpiece upon reflection

And album budgets!…back in my major label days we would send a band into the studio for months or at least a month, now as a label owner myself, we’re lucky if we can do 7-10 days in the studio, but thanks to pre-production and home studios these days, sometimes that’s enough…but to your point, no one is going in making Pet Sounds or or spending a day on the cymbal sounds anymore.

Best

Brian Hetherman

Cerberus Mgmt / Curve Music

________________________________________

For those of us born in the late 60’s to early 70’s, soft rock/yacht rock music was a staple of our youth. We were trapped in the back of our parent’s station wagon and we were constantly subjected to Ambrosia, Little River Band, Bread, and yes Paul Davis. We hated it at the time but it sunk in to our brains and it stuck. It stuck so well that now we subject our children to those same songs and they (begrudgingly) love them too. Songs like “Cool Night” are best enjoyed on a Sunday morning with fresh coffee and the New York Times. It’s like a warm blanket.

For your consideration this Sunday morning, I have this playlist that I made which is in the top 1% of the most popular on Spotify. It only has 500 likes which says something about user generated playlists on Spotify but I’m proud of it nonetheless.

Thanks for a great post about the greatest guilty pleasure music ever.

Alex Cobb

________________________________________

So you made me listen to I Go Crazy back to back with Same Old Lang Syne. It could be the same piano on both songs. They are as mushy as it gets but perfect nonetheless. Both Paul Davis and Dan Fogelberg died too young.

Merck Mercuriadis

________________________________________

I grew up near Salem, Mass in the late 70s where there was nothing to do at night except cruise around with my friends and do bong hits. I drove a real s..tbox, but — bizarrely — it came with a Blaupunkt radio and quad speakers. My friends and I would drive to nowhere and back, going up and down the radio dial from WBCN to WAAF (I think those were the call letters), singing to Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Humble Pie, Ten Years After. But when Toto came on the radio, we’d get quiet, hopefully we’d be driving on some country back road, and we’d all sing to ourselves.

‘Cool Night’ … I couldn’t place it. Then I got to the lyrics at end of your email and I started singing out loud. I don’t know why but it made me think of ‘Guitar Man’ by Bread, a song I used to sing while spinning in circles in a Big Wheel before I learned how to ride a bike.

What a nice way to wake up. Thank you Bob.

Pamela Harris

________________________________________

Wow man…

46 + years in as a professional musician and you think I have thin skin and I am weak?? Like i cant stand the fire? Come the f..k on…..

Thanks for making me sound like a little baby dick.

Steve Lukather

________________________________________

Can you imagine Paul Davis’ career if he was not on Bang Records?
Stan Goman

Modern Life

You think about politics all the time but you don’t want to.

No matter how much money you make you feel like you’re falling behind because of inflation.

You like that you can Google everybody you’ve ever known to find out what they’re up to, but you don’t want to contact them and you don’t want them to contact you.

You watched so much streaming TV during lockdown that you’re scrounging for quality new stuff but not finding it.

You cannot trust people’s streaming TV recommendations. They’ve seen little, and what they’ve seen they always say they loved.

If you haven’t seen “Game of Thrones” you’re considered defective. I know, because I haven’t.

You can’t wait for driverless cars, even more you can’t wait to not own a car at all, to just have one show up at your doorstep when you need to go somewhere.

Want more human contact, but don’t want to leave the house to get it.

Are addicted to something online that you don’t want to tell anybody about.

Keep going back to the old and familiar because life today is just too complicated, with too many offerings and choices.

You not only ignore the advertising by the big companies, but the advertising of the online influencers. Your most trusted source on products is Amazon reviews.

Hate the airlines, the whole experience of flying, from gate to gate.

Are worried about speaking your truth to an unknown person for fear they might become violent.

Have thought about not going someplace because of potential crime.

Hear most about climate change from polluters.

Wish there was a musician who you could follow for insight and advice but can’t find one. The rock musicians of yore were sages. The pop musicians of today are empty vessels whoring themselves out to the highest bidder.

Have the history of recorded music at your fingertips, but find it nearly impossible to discover new music that you like. 

Are worried to say you have anything and have gone anywhere for fear you’ll be criticized by those who have not. Unless you’re super-wealthy and live in a bubble where you never encounter those without.

Are sick of hearing what the billionaires think.

Don’t want to get Covid, even though you think you’ll survive.

Are sick of ignorance, or are ignorant. Furthermore those most confident in their opinions are those who know the least.

Keep being told to buy new tech products when the old still work just fine.

Are on backlash against the health nuts. As my doctor told me, is life worth living if you can’t eat a donut?

You feel inadequate.

You crave humanity yet hate humanity.

You live for the unexpected.

Are sick of hearing about people’s pedigrees, where they went to college, who their friends are, their advantages…what has that got to do with who you really are?

Everybody wants to be famous, but you can be famous and not rich and fame lasts for a shorter period of time than ever before.

The company does not want you on its payroll. They want you to be an independent contractor, yet pledge undying fealty when in truth they’ll axe your ass on a whim.

The financialization of everything drives you wild. Wall Street owns the parking meters, the residential market, it seems like everybody’s getting rich from everyday things except you.

You’re sick of the Luddites. Life has been moving at warp speed for thirty years yet there are people still wanting to go back to the past, which is never returning.

You’re sick of people criticizing online addiction/behavior when in truth these oldsters, and they’re all oldsters, would have been addicted to these same gadgets if they were young themselves.

There are so many concerts in your city that it’s all just become a blur. You used to want to see all of them, now you wonder if you should see any of them.

Are sick of people telling you how to improve yourself…what to eat, what to think, as if everybody on earth is a therapist and what works for one person will work for another when this is patently untrue.

Love that you never have to be bored, a plethora of stimulation is at your fingertips. However, you might be one of only a few consuming it. So if you want to talk about it with your friends…

Don’t understand why people still go to the movies, unless they’re young and need to get out of the house and/or are on a date. We live in an on demand culture and movies have specific starting times that never fit into your schedule and if you do go you end up wasting so much time in the process.

Realize that time is the only true commodity and you don’t want to waste it.

You feel priced out of something.

There is a club, but you feel like you’re not in it, and no matter what you do you will never become a member.

Are told there’s always something better around the corner, to be nimble and move on when in truth there is so much power in perseverance, staying the course, it’s just that it’s not sexy.

You know that almost all actors are empty vessels. The internet has revealed this.

Are unaware of who the people in the gossip columns are, and it’s not only the oldsters, the youngsters don’t know who they are either.

Hear everybody talking about SNL but you don’t even know who the host is. Oh, you read their name, but then ask yourself WHO?

Credibility is expendable. This is the head-scratching part of politics, elected officials with no backbone who will say and do whatever is expedient.

You know more people than ever, are in contact with more people than ever, but are constantly worried about who you can trust.

Are either smoking marijuana and have bought into the cannabis is king and will solve all your problems mania or have not, there’s no in between.

Have friends giving you crackpot medical theories, as if medical school teaches you falsehoods. And the wealthier and more educated they are, the crazier the theories.

Don’t have a CD player in the house.

Probably don’t have a DVD player either.

Check your smartphone first thing when you wake up in the morning.

You keep being told what to do and you don’t do it.

Love to disconnect, but it’s harder than ever to do.

Cool Night

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3XtsPXv

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3F1uo7U

1

I’m trying to remember where I heard “’65 Love Affair.” I mean it was a pop hit, and I never listened to AM radio. And then I remembered, back in the early eighties, when MTV broke, there was a new phenomenon, Top Forty on FM radio. Actually, it was a masterstroke, because the AOR stations were long in the tooth, set in their ways, and people were ready for something different, ergo KROQ, the ROQ of the Eighties, and I’m trying to remember the call letters, which I can’t, but I’m pretty sure the number was 100.3. And in the days of old you used to drive in your car pushing the buttons looking for music, something you wanted to stay on, something you didn’t want to instantly push away from. Sure, I had cassettes in the glovebox, but there was an immediacy of radio, back when we were all kind of on the same page and you could feel plugged in, now you listen to a podcast and don’t worry about anybody else.

“You sang do wop diddy wop diddy wop doo”

There used to be nonsense lyrics, especially in the early sixties, but even “The Boxer” had “lie-la-lie,” I always thought I just wasn’t catching the words, the single came out before the track appeared on the album “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

And then there’s the Beach Boys records and…

There was a sunniness to sixties AM stuff, before we all switched to FM and album rock at the end of the decade. And sure, there were some mindless tracks, but there were also some meaningful ones too.

“If I could go back again

Well I know I’d never let you go

Back with some of my friends

To that wonderful

’65 love affair”

Actually, those days weren’t so great. I don’t want to go back, whether it be with Eddie Money or anybody else. But there are some flashes, some memorable moments that come back when I hear songs like “’65 Love Affair.” I did have a ’65 love affair, with Jill at Camp Laurelwood. I looked her up online decades ago. She was instantly recognizable, she still looks the same. Not that I’m gonna make contact. This was long before Facebook, when everybody came out of the woodwork, became available, in the late nineties and early part of this century the internet was still new, not everybody was findable, but I still looked for all of ’em. But never made contact with any of them.

“If I could go back in time

Well, I know somehow you’d still be mine”

Actually, I doubt it. I stole her from Jimmy, and it wasn’t long after camp closed that she went back to him. But she’s part of my history.

Anyway, you know how it is with records, certain ones infect you and others do not, and we’re always looking for those that do, and it’s got little to do with expectations, little to do with what others say, we just know it when we hear it, like porn, like that old, and he was old, Supreme Court Justice said.

But Paul Davis… Wasn’t he some smooth popster? Could I really like a record by Paul Davis? But then I saw the album in the promo bin, one of the advantages of living in Los Angeles, and I bought it, and I’d play the track and it would always make me feel good.

2

“It’s gonna be a cool night”

You know, the kind of night when they’re playing tennis in “Goodbye Columbus,” during the summer, maybe late spring, when you might need a light jacket, if that, when the evening is full of possibilities.

So we were driving back from Thanksgiving at Monica’s listening to Yacht Rock Radio on SiriusXM. Felice leans towards the soft rock sound, but I dig it too. I quibble with some of the choices, I thought the term was supposed to be a pejorative, Steely Dan yacht rock? I don’t think so.

But if you do hear Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” you’d be stunned how good it sounds today.

And Felice was driving, and she switches stations if she doesn’t like something, and I saw in the readout that the next song was “Cool Night” and I immediately said I LOVE THIS SONG, both excited it was playing and sending a subconscious message not to change the channel.

“Come on over tonight

Come on over”

I realized they don’t cut music like this anymore, we haven’t only lost the classic rock sound, but soft rock, and despite all the put-downs, a lot of soft rock is damn good. I know Steve Lukather has a thin skin, so many people laying hate on on Toto, but in truth I turn the same station up every time I hear “99,” and that’s not the only one.

And yacht rock was never about slumming, the obligatory hair ballad on a hard rock record, the legendary example being Extreme and “More Than Words,” rather these were soft rock artists, this was their oeuvre.

Now one thing about soft rock, it was never cut on a budget. It took money and expertise to make the sound smooth, this was not a one take enterprise, labor was involved. So soft rock does not have the edge of Nirvana, never mind the sixties acts, but it was an outgrowth, a progression from what came before. The acts had grown up with the Beatles, they knew you had to write your own songs, so people would believe what you were singing, and you’d should be able to play too, if it was a studio concoction we were not interested, there was still some of that, but don’t confuse that was the soft rock sound, which had a place in the firmament, even its own station in L.A., KNX, 93.1.

“Come on over tonight

Come on over”

Tonight these words resonated like they never have before. No one comes over anymore, certainly not unannounced. And I’m no longer in my twenties or early thirties, with those love affairs you thought might be something more, urging or being urged to come over. And that feeling, of nascent love, that’s a cool night, that’s soft rock.

“And now summer’s come and gone

And the nights they seem so long”

This is a late fall/winter song. The light is fading and so is your mood, you start reminiscing about the past.

“Oh, I won’t talk about the past

How love’s supposed to last forever”

Wait, this is a set-up.

“And you don’t have to take a stand

Lay out any plans

Come on over tonight

Come on over”

This is a booty call song! That’s not the way I’ve always heard it. Like I wrote above, I always thought it was about possibilities, the future, but really it’s about one last go-round before you part forever, or do it once again some time in the indeterminate future.

So what we’ve got here is desire.

And really, that’s the feel of the song.

And whether that desire is consummated or not does not matter, it’s all about how the record affects you. And when I was listening to “Cool Night” tonight it set me free, the layers of frustration, that feeling of the world pressing in, all faded away. It was palpable. I started singing along. It made me think of the aforementioned possibilities, which is an optimism people my age have a hard time embracing, they’re on the downhill slide, their lives are set in stone, they’re just waiting to die.

And Paul Davis is dead, of a heart attack, long before his time. But “Cool Night” is positively alive, still ready to soothe and inspire. And when it does that it makes you happy, and it doesn’t matter how anybody else feels, you’re in your own mental bubble, nothing can go wrong in your world.

“It’s gonna be a cool night

Just let me hold you by the firelight

If it don’t feel right, you can go”

Yes, my mood is good. I don’t want you to impinge upon my trip. But if you want to join in, bond and have fun, I’m here to welcome you. Cast aside all your prejudices, your judgments, no one is watching, you might wear leather and studs outside, but inside, especially with your honey, by the firelight, this music just makes you feel good.

“It’s gonna be a cool night…”

P.S. I looked it up, it was KIQQ, 100.3.

Steve Schnur-This Week’s Podcast

Talking to Electronic Arts’ President of Music Steve Schnur was the highlight of my week, and I’m not even a gamer! It made me excited about music. It made me envy his job. Listen and you’ll get excited too! (And learn plenty!)

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/steve-schnur/id1316200737?i=1000587378962

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/9ff4fb19-54d4-41ae-ae7a-8a6f8d3dafa8/episodes/d93ef79a-d78d-4f49-b709-2a74cf487776/the-bob-lefsetz-podcast-steve-schnur

https://www.stitcher.com/show/the-bob-lefsetz-podcast/episode/steve-schnur-208922989