Dionne and Friends – That’s What Friends Are For

First Hit #1: January 18, 1986

I don’t know why, but I’m surprised that That’s What Friends Are For wasn’t written as a charity single. It is a bit sentimental, and the theme of counting on someone else is appropriate for that particular purpose. But no, it was written as a song for the Night Shift soundtrack, and covered by Dionne Warwick and her very famous friends (Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Elton John) in order to benefit AIDS research.

Probably the biggest stamp on the single is Wonder, actually, given that his distinctive harmonica leads the track and gives it its most identifiable element. Everyone else is obviously an accomplished singer, but they don’t quite give the song their own distinct stamp – if only because everyone’s switching out verses. The many different voices do enhance the song however – it sounds like a group of friends, which fits the themes better – and the song overall is highly appropriate for the purpose. Yeah, it’s sentimental, maybe even skirting the line towards cheesy, but it exists to give support – both monetary and financially – to people with AIDS, so I can’t dock it any points for this. It’s a good charity single, and I can give those a bit more leeway when it comes to going highly sentimental.

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One Response to Dionne and Friends – That’s What Friends Are For

  1. RBerman says:

    I’m all for charity, but the test of a good song is: “You just heard it. Would you like to hear it again?” I can’t say that I’d like to hear this one again. It’s a “We Are the World” reunion with a tiny fraction of both the cast and the melodicity. Stevie Wonder turns in a fun performance, more spirited than his last few #1s, The rest of the gang is fine, reverent even, in their desire to band together against a disease whose social implications (chilling the sexual climate) far outstripped the actual number of cases, Stateside anyway. In Africa it was, and still is, a public health nightmare.

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