#1131: Let the Song Last Forever by Dan Hill
Daniel Grafton Hill IV was born in 1954 in Toronto. He father, Daniel Hill, was a social scientist. Hill’s parents moved to Canada before he was born to live in a less racially charged setting where their interracial marriage would not be met with intolerance. Hill would later write about his parents exit from the USA in his song “McCarthy’s Day.” While young Dan was in his teens he learned the guitar and started to compose songs. When he was just 18 years old he got a songwriting contract with RCA Records. In 1975 Hill released his first album, but it would be his third album, Longer Fuse, that got the attention of deejays and record buyers. His #1 hit single from the album, “Sometimes When We Touch“, was co-written with Barry Mann, of Manhattan’s Brill Building’s songwriting fame. With the song came multiple Junos Awards: Composer, Male Vocalist, and Single of the Year. Hill also was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1978 for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, losing out to Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana“.
“Sometimes When We Touch” was also recorded by many other performers. These include Lynne Anderson, Roseanne Cash, Cleo Laine, Barry Manilow, Olivia Newton-John, Donny Osmond, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner and Tammy Wynette. With the excitement over Hill’s award winning appearance on the pop charts, music critics eagerly anticipated his next release. Frozen in the Night, yielded several pretty ballads. The first was “All I See Is Your Face” and the second was “Let The Song Last Forever.” In both cases the singles failed to crack the American Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.
As with “Sometimes When We Touch”, “Let the Song Last Forever” was co-written with Barry Mann, a Brooklyn native born in 1939 as Barry Imberman. Barry Mann was writing songs with Cynthia Weil in the Brill Building. He had his own hit in 1961 called “Who Put The Bomp.” Other hits he composed include the Drifters classic “On Broadway”, The Animals “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”, The Paris Sisters “I Love How You Love Me”, Eddie Gorme’s “Blame It On The Bossa Nova”, Paul Revere & The Raiders hits “Kicks” and “Hungry”. Other notable tunes Barry Mann co-wrote are Jay & The Americans’ “Walking In The Rain”, The Righteous Brothers’ “Soul And Inspiration” and Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again”. Mann also co-wrote the tune from the animated movie An American Tail “Somewhere Out There”, made popular by the duet Linda Ronstadt and Luther Ingram.
“Let The Song Last Forever” was a very honest ballad about a couple’s uncertain future in a relationship that could last just one more day, or a lifetime. The lyrics acknowledge that hurt and pain can take their toll on a person. In some cases it can make an individual afraid, empty, void and unable to risk love again. Still, as a song to sing along with, it was perhaps too discomforting, offering up a serving of ambivalence many radio listeners didn’t want to dwell on. Hill’s song managed to climb into the Top 20 on Vancouver’s CFUN to #14, but stalled in on the Billboard Hot 100 at #91.
Dan Hill’s star continued to fade as his next three albums, If Dreams Had Wings, Partial Surrender and Love In The Shadows failed to offer up any singles to crack the Billboard Hot 100 or the Top 40 on the Canadian RPM singles charts. Other than appearing on the Northern Lights’ African relief single “Tears Are Not Enough” in ’85, he fell off the radar, focusing on family life and composing for other recording artists. Though in 1987 Hill had one last Top Ten hit in a duet with Vonda Shepard called “Can’t We Try“.
In 1996 Dan Hill wrote a track for Celine Dion’s album, Falling Into You. He was also diagnosed with diabetes in the mid 90’s and understandably gave his attention to his health. He also wrote more songs for other recording artists including Britney Spears, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton and The Backstreet Boys.
In 2007 Dan Hill went on tour with Stuart McLean and the CBC Radio comedy show The Vinyl Cafe. In 2008 Hill authored I Am My Father’s Son, his intimate autobiography about his parents move from the USA to Canada, his son’s involvement with a gang and his father’s death in 2003.
Dan Hill was a lifelong friend of screenwriter, novelist, playwright and musician, Paul Quarrington. The two appeared in concert from time to time as a folk music duo billed as Quarrington/Hill. Dan Hill’s brother is the award-winning Canadian novelist Lawrence Hill who authored The Book of Negroes.
March 17, 2017
Dan Hill, Black in Canada.com, November 25, 2010.
Dan Hill, Dan Hill.com
Hill, Dan. I Am My Father’s Son. Harper Collins, Toronto, 2008.
Leslie Scrivener, My Father, My Self: The Journey of Dan Hill, Toronto Star, February 8, 2009.
Freedom Seeker: The Life and Times of Daniel G. Hill – The Children, Ontario Ministry of Government Services, 2001.
“Weekly Survey,” CFUN 1410 AM, Vancouver, BC, July 15, 1978.
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