On today’s edition of Han’s Worst Hits Of The 70’s- I know I am being Captain Obvious in selecting the dreadful “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone but there are some things I want to write about the song and Debby Boone.

There were 479 different singles that topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1970’s and none of those songs I swear were played as often on the radio as You Light Up My Life. You Light Up My Life spent 10 straight weeks at #1 in the fall of 1977- It was #1 from October 15th, 1977 to December 24th of that year when the Bee Gees “How Deep Is Your Love” ended the pain and agony. The 10 weeks at #1 was a Billboard record at the time. On the Record World singles chart it was #1 for 13 weeks. The song won the Grammy for Song of the Year and she won the Grammy for Best New Artist. Back in that time I was in high school and an avid radio listener and follower of the pop charts. You couldn’t turn the radio on- any pop station and not hear this song within 15 minutes.

The song was written by Joe Brooks- who would have a troubled life which ended in 2011 in suicide. The song was originally recorded by Kasey Cisyk for the film “You Light Up My Life.” In the movie the song was lip-synched by Didi Conn. Debby Boone’s version- which took the instrumental track that Brooks had already for the soundtrack- had Boone singing over it. Brooks wrote it as a love song, Boone sang it as a song of inspiration- it was God who lite up her life.

The question I have is- why was Debby Boone a one-hit wonder? On the surface she had a few things going for her that most one-hit wonders don’t have. Her father was the soul-less singer Pat Boone who had a gazillion hits in the 1950s. Well maybe not a gazillion but he had 38 Top 40 hits and sold 45 million records. He was in films. He was still around at this time. The Boone name was established. She was young and pretty. She had one of the biggest hit songs ever- you would think the momentum of that alone would have gotten her another hit. Is it possible she didn’t was because 1- she wasn’t really that great of a singer. Every college/ high school in America at that time and today has a girl who can sing as well as she could or better. 2- Lack of soul ran in her family. This song is music’s version of a vanilla milkshake. 3- The song was overexposed. By January 1978 anyone who did like the song at first probably hated it by then. 4- the late 70s were an era of decadence. We know Debby wasn’t going to the discos at night and doing lines of cocaine in the restrooms there, she was a good girl and that wasn’t IN at the time. If she had been arrested for drunk and disorderly it would have probably given her some street cred in certain circles . I am sure there were other possible reasons why she never had a second hit- and I am perfectly fine that she didn’t. I didn’t hear anyone saying “I wish Debby Boone would make a comeback.” I have also never run into any one who claimed to have liked the song- well my sister was one who bought the single but she was ten years old at the time and can be given a pass. A few years later being reminded that she bought the single would bring embarrassment. I must confess- I have a couple boxes of singles and I am afraid If I went and looked – my sisters copy of You Light Up My Life just might be in one of the boxes. Not that I have ever or would ever play it. I don’t have to play it- its still in my head it was that bad of a song.





  1. Yes obvious but necessary choice. I agree with you thoughts re why she didn’t have another hit – think most important is I think lack of talent not that great a singer – I think the version by Kacey S. Actually sounds better (marginally grantee). I wonder if the song would have been better sung by someone who understood soul. The Boone’s were like soul vampires sucking songs of all their soul.

    • Yes I agree although the original wasn’t a masterpiece by any means it was better than Debby’s… yes the Boone’s don’t have an ounce of soul in them. At least the torture seems to have ended with both the Boone’s and The Osmond’s. I don’t see or hear any of the new generation doing anything.

  2. Excellent write up. So true! I was eleven and I bought the whole album. Four or five years later I threw it in the garage store room, where we kept the dog food and junk. A year ago I cleaned out that store room and found the album, cleaned it up and put it in our collection. It rests in between Karla Bonoff and Boston. Not Bad Company…Ha!

    • Thank you.. being a hoarder I can’t let anything go- not even my sister’s single that she was ashamed of owning. …. with the dog food and junk–that’s funny… I see you go in alphabetical order- the only way to go.

  3. This is one of the songs I was wondering about… if it was going to be in this…you didn’t disappoint. I would say overexposure is one of the reasons she didn’t have another hit…with that her lack of soul was exposed. She was ridiculed by everyone who was over 10.

    The song is bland but I’ve heard Aretha Franklin do it…live version and it was much better…of course….but bland song plus a bland singer. Diabolical combination. I don’t know if misconduct could have helped her…
    .”Debby caught in a love triangle at Studio 54 with Bianca”….hmm you never know.

    • I can’t imagine Debby and Mick being in the same country let in the same disco…I think you are right it was a dreadful song to begin with- I would imagine if Aretha couldn’t make it sound ‘great’ it is impossible…

    • That is the test…if it is Aretha proof then it’s pretty bad. She made it passable but that is it.
      Mick and Debby now that would have been a story.

    • I remember that album…A lot of his fans were outraged and he apologized. I was surprised…that he still had fans.

      If anyone could have corrupted her it would have been Mick.

    • It’s amazing what people will like. I guess some favored his Long Tall Sally over Little Richard. That is hard to write.

      Some fun personal trivia. I had forgotten about this but my uncle reminded me of it a few wees ago. My dad and Pat Boone were about to fight in the early fifties…Someone broke it up…it was in a school in Nashville before Boone had made it. My dad didn’t like him…Go dad

    • I just emailed another realitive about it. I remember dad told me that a long time ago but I forgot about it. Yes he got it right!

  4. Another worst hit winner. That cracks me up about Pat making a hard rock album. Pat also plays a role in the Michael Moore movie, “Roger and Me”. He visited Flint on a tour with Anita Bryant iirc. A man of many mysteries — or absurdities, as the case may be.

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