Brenda Russell – “Piano In The Dark”

Photo credit:yahoo.com/images

I fell in love with this song the first time I saw it on MTV.  When the music begins to play and Ms. Russell starts singing the first verse of the song, it immediately transports you to a time and place in another world. A world where it’s you and the one you love, the atmosphere is right, everything smells fresh, the candles are lit and you fall into each other’s arms and slow dance to this song and fall in love over, and over again. Imagination is key and you can’t help but use your imagination listening to this song. Brenda Russell stated during an interview that she felt as though, “the video robbed the listener of creating their own personal images to the music.”  It may be true for some, but I am fairly sure not for others. It is such a peaceful, creative song with music that flows ever so softly with everything falling right into place with none of the vocals or piano strokes being overbearing.

Scott Cuter and Jeffrey Hall composed the music for this song, then sent it to Brenda Russell, who added lyrics. The title came first, and the story followed. Says Russell, “I’m a person that collects song titles. You know, if I hear a good title, like talking to a friend or whatever, I will write it down. I keep a little song title book. I always think that in every title there is a song somewhere, and you’ve just got to thin it out. So, when they sent me this music, I thought, ‘Whoa, it’s so haunting and beautiful, I love that.’ And I was flipping through my title book and I just thought, ‘Piano in the Dark, I wonder if that would go with that music I heard?’ That is as easy as that happened. I had that title and I thought, ‘Hmmm, maybe that’ll work.'”

Russell was not initially sure what Piano in the Dark meant, but when she started writing lyrics, the story began to evolve. Says Russell, “I love it when it happens like that. You’re not putting any rigid restrictions on how it’s coming, you know, it’s just boom – let’s try that. Go for it, you know?” According to Russell, the song tells the story of a woman whose lover plays piano. “She wants to leave him because she’s really kind of bored. But every time she does that, he sits down and starts playing. And it sucks her right back in. She is so in love with the way he plays. And he plays in the dark, theoretically. It’s not that literal, necessarily. But that is what keeps her to him, basically, is his music. And I just found that was an interesting story to write about.”

The song was released in 1988 on the album “Get Here,” and peaked at #6 on the US charts.

This song creates a vivid image in many listeners’ minds, which is something that Russell feels is important to the musical experience. Says Russell, “I was so disappointed as a songwriter when videos came out. Because I thought the video robbed the listener of creating their own personal images to the music (the video for this song is set in a nightclub on a rainy night just before closing time). Everyone had their own little image in their mind of what that song meant to them, or what they saw when they heard that song. And now we were creating an image for them to relate to the song. And the images most of the time were not nearly as cool as what people could create in their minds, because the early videos were kind of boring, you know, they’ve come a long way since then.”

This is the only song performed by Russell that really made an impact on the American charts, although she has had more success on the international market. Her song “Get Here” was a huge hit for Oleta Adams in 1991. She also co-wrote the music and lyrics for 2005 musical The Color Purple, which was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and presented by Oprah Winfrey. The Tony-award winning score blends jazz, blues, and gospel of the early and mid-1900s with pop sensibilities. Russell’s father, Gus Gordon, was a member of The Ink Spots. (Check out our interview with Brenda Russell.)

Credit: Songfacts.com

 

Song Lyrics –

When I find myself watching the time
I never think about all the funny things you said
I feel like it’s dead
Where is it leading me now

I turn around in the still of the room
Knowing this is when I’m gonna make my move
Can’t wait any longer
And I’m feeling stronger but oh

[Pre-Chorus]
Just as I walk through the door
I can feel your emotion
It’s pulling me back
Back to love you

[Chorus]
I know I’m caught up in the middle
I cry just a little
When I think of letting go
Oh no, gave up on the riddle
I cry just a little
When he plays piano in the dark

And no words are spoken but oh
[Pre-Chorus]
Just as I walk through the door
I can feel your emotion
It’s pulling me back
Back to love you

[Chorus]
I know I’m caught up in the middle
I cry just a little
When I think of letting go
Oh no, gave up on the riddle
I cry just a little
When he plays piano in the dark

[Bridge]
The silence is broken
And no words are spoken but oh

[Pre-Chorus]
Just as I walk through the door
I can feel your emotion
It’s pulling me back
Back to love you

[Chorus]
I know I’m caught up in the middle
I cry just a little
When I think of letting go
Oh no, gave up on the riddle
I cry just a little
When he plays piano in the dark

[Outro]
Oh..i cry, i cry..

Credit: https://genius.com/Brenda-russell-piano-in-the-dark-lyrics
Writer/s: SCOTT CUTLER, JEFF HULL, BRENDA RUSSELL

 

16 thoughts on “Brenda Russell – “Piano In The Dark”

    1. This song brings back memories of my childhood in 1979 and the school sock-hops we had back then. This song has such a perfect tune with a romantic vibe. I really liked the video, it was almost like fantasy and was just enough, and not over the top. Max, I have been trying to catch up as well. Work has been busy and I found out a couple of weeks ago that I have stage three kidney disease. I have been under the care of a cardiologist for some issues I’ve had and now to learn this, just reiterates the fact that anything can happen at any time. I am following the doctor’s orders and certainly eating much healthier and exercising more. I just look at it as a stepping stone, I haven’t allowed it to get me down at all, I am taking it all seriously, without worrying or breaking down. I am doing all I can do on my end, to remain focused and staying in control of my life and health.

      I sure hope you and your family are doing well these days!

      1. Oh geez Jasmine I hope everything is ok. I’m glad you are doing what the Doctor tells you. With all that is going on, I know you didn’t need this. Can it be controlled and stabilized? I know you have faith and that means everything.
        We are doing fine…just take care of yourself!

        1. Thank you so much, Max. Yes, it can be controlled and I am not on any medication right now. I am doing everything by eating healthier and of course, staying off the soft drinks, and fried foods. I did have a sonogram which shows that my right kidney is much smaller than my left kidney, which is something that I was born with. Yes, I am leaning on my faith and am praying that nothing happens and I go from a three to stage five. Stage 5 is when you go on dialysis. I sure don’t want that in my life.

          I am so happy you and your family are well. There is so much going on right now, and so many people are going through different trials and tribulations, not to mention everything else in the world. I am staying prayed up.

          1. No you don’t want dialysis…I have a friend who has it done and is on a donor list. He has been diabetic since he was a kid. I’m so happy that is controllable…at least to a point.

            You will be in much better shape now but this isn’t the way you want to do it!

            I’m starting to drink more water now because sweet tea (Hey I’m a southerner) is my weakness.
            Can we skip over 2020? I’m done with it.

            You keep doing what you are doing…I want to see post after post young lady!

        2. Thank you so much, Max. I am a trooper and through my faith will triumph over this hurdle. I have to take care of myself and stick to healthy eating as well as staying away from soft drinks. I have been getting out walking, and that sure has made me feel better. Yes, there is so much going on right now.

          I am happy you and your family are doing well. 😄

          1. Well you know where to find me if you ever need to talk. You are a very kind and enthusiastic person and I’m glad that you are walking…I need to follow your lead and take off the weight off I picked up from the lock down.

            1. Thank you so much, Max. I truly appreciate it! I have to do this. My Cardiologist wants me to be able to walk the treadmill for 6 minutes when I return for my 6-month visit in August. I am following her advice, besides it makes me feel so much better.

              It is hard at first, but I am sure you will be able to take off your quarantine weight as some of my friends call it very soon!😁

              1. Yea I need to walk…you are inspiring me now! I’m going to go out and walk for a few minutes today. I have to start back.
                I felt better also when I walked.

                Yea it’s coming off…whew I need it off bad.

                    1. It was hot today but NOTHING like you have! We get it bad around August when the humidity is 90 percent.
                      I was walking an hour a day before all of this chaos happened.

                    2. Hi Max, I hope your day is going well. The humidity does get rough here, and worse for those with asthma and other respiratory ailments. It has been storming here for the past three days. I sure will be happy when everything gets better for everyone.

                    3. It stormed here this past weekend but not for that long. So far the humidity hasn’t been really bad thank goodness.

                      Vaccine is the magic word all the way around. We won’t get back to normal until that happens…

                    4. We can not get past that humidity, unfortunately. We have thunderstorms in the forecast for later this evening, Saturday, and Monday.

                      From what is being said, they are testing a vaccine in Africa. Hopefully, they find one that works, because there are way too many people succumbing to this virus. Something has to give.