Finishing on a high note | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Finishing on a high note

MUSIC | Remembering pop crooner Eric Carmen

Eric Carmen Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

Finishing on a high note
You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining. You've read all of your free articles.

Full access isn’t far.

We can’t release more of our sound journalism without a subscription, but we can make it easy for you to come aboard.

Get started for as low as $3.99 per month.

Current WORLD subscribers can log in to access content. Just go to "SIGN IN" at the top right.


Already a member? Sign in.

Eric Carmen, the possessor of the loveliest male voice in pop, died in March at his home in Gates Mills, Ohio. He was 74.

“Lovely” is an adjective seldom appended to the voices of the unfairer sex. And it didn’t immediately fit Carmen, who first made his mark in 1972 with “Go All the Way,” an explosive, hormonally charged million-seller by his band the Raspberries. But even though he belted that song’s intro and bridge, he crooned its refrain in a creamy, soaring tenor, foreshadowing the romantic stylings for which he would become best known.

His first solo hit, the lovelorn “All by Myself,” incorporated a melody from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Carmen’s favorite piece of music). It went gold in 1976 and did so again in 1997 when covered by Celine Dion. Numerous others—Frank Sinatra among them—covered it as well. Carmen would eventually joke that the song had been “done to death.”

He did not, however, complain about the royalties (12 percent of which went to Rachmaninoff’s estate). Nor was he done with blending classical and pop. “Love Is All That Matters,” the most beautiful song he ever wrote, appropriated Tchaikovsky.

He experienced commercial droughts. Yet even when he wasn’t on the radio, his songs were. “That’s Rock ’n’ Roll” and “Hey Deanie” as sung by Shaun Cassidy and “Almost Paradise” as sung by Ann Wilson and Mike Reno each hit the Top 10.

Carmen made the Top 5 two more times himself, in 1987 with the Dirty Dancing smash “Hungry Eyes” and in 1989 with “Make Me Lose Control.” The vocal harmonies of the latter, like those of his hit “She Did It,” his deep cut “Someday,” and the Raspberries’ “Drivin’ Around,” wore his main nonclassical influence—the Beach Boys—on its sleeve.

His final (and most consistent) album of original material, I Was Born To Love You, appeared in 2000, the same year he toured as a member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. Between 2004 and 2007, he toured with the reunited Raspberries. His final recording, “Brand New Year,” appeared on The Essential Eric Carmen in 2014, two years before he married for the third and final time.

Never a political songwriter, he surprised many in the months prior to the 2020 election by coming out hard for President Donald Trump on Twitter, earning the scorn of his peers in the process. Some of his obituaries continued the sneering.

Rolling Stone’s David Wild demurred. “I fell in love with Power Pop as a kid because of the Raspberries,” he tweeted. “I got to know Eric in the Eighties [and] write liner notes for his music & absolutely nothing—not time, not trends, not politics—could ever stop me from being his fan forever.” No singer deserved more to go out on such a high note.

Arsenio Orteza

Arsenio is a music reviewer for WORLD Magazine and one of its original contributors from 1986. Arsenio resides in China.



Please wait while we load the latest comments...