The Force was still with us in 1983 as Return of the Jedi opened in theaters. We met Ewoks, and we also met Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs that year. The world ate “McNuggets” for the first time, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video premiered on MTV, and Compact Discs went on sale in the United States for the first time (Japan had them first).
It was the year we lost music people like Karen Carpenter, Dennis Wilson, Muddy Waters, James Jamerson, Earl Hines and Ira Gershwin. Yet was the year we gained Carrie Underwood, T-Pain and… William Hung (“She bangs, she bangs…”).
It’s a short list for 1983, but there are a few gems on the list, many ideal for weddings, anniversaries, or just to say “I love you”.
“You And I” by Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle
The title “You And I” has been used for dozens of songs, but in 1983 it was a romantic duet between Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle, with all the necessary love ingredients (building dreams together, there will never be another, etc). This incarnation of “You And I” entered the Top 40 in late 1982, reaching #7 in 1983 and would be the last appearance of both artists on the Billboard Top 40.
“Baby, Come To Me” by Patti Austin and James Ingram
Written by Rod Temperton and produced by Quincy Jones, this love song just couldn’t fail. In addition to Patti and James, if you listen closely, you’ll hear the unmistakable voice of Michael McDonald contributing to the backup vocals. “Baby, Come To Me” entered the Top 40 in late, late 1982 reaching the #1 spot in 1983. It would be Patti Austin’s only Top 40 hit.
“You Are” by Lionel Richie
This tune is unquestionably one of the most catchy, upbeat and fun love songs from 1983. “You Are” was co-written by Lionel Richie and his then wife Brenda, with a yet unknown Richard Marx on backup vocals. As far as lyrically love-infused love songs go, “You Are” is pure perfection, and rose to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, #2 on the R&B and #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts.
“Mornin’” by Al Jarreau
At first listen one might think Al Jarreau is just really, really happy in the morning time. As it turns out, it seems his love has just told him she loves him, and he’s just very happy about it. It isn’t exactly a conventional love song, but it is happy and it is about love… and the morning apparently. Jarreau reached the #21 spot on the Billboard Top 40 with this tune.
“Faithfully” by Journey
Leave it to Steve Perry and Journey to deliver this epic power ballad. Although the lyrics seem tragic, about a “music man” and the difficulties of maintaining a relationship while on the road, in the end the song insists “I’m forever yours… Faithfully.” Need he say more? It’s easy to envision an arena with lighters lit and swaying to this 1983 hit. “Faithfully” reached #12 on the Billboard Top 40.
“My Love” by Lionel Richie
The title says it all on this, the second Lionel Richie tune on the list for 1983. And if you listen real close, you can hear none other than Kenny Rogers on the harmony backing vocals on this #5 Top 40 hit. Unlike many of the artist on this list who were beginning to disappear from the charts, Lionel Richie would keep pumping out hits through the rest of the decade.
“Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack
This #16 Top 40 duet was written by two very talented hit-makers, Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser. While it was Peabo Bryson’s first chart appearance, it proved veteran Roberta Flack to be just as relevant as she was in the 1970s. “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” is certainly a “making love” love song, but it’s the best kind of romantic, loving, making love song (if that even makes sense).
“Islands In The Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
When two Country superstars get together and sing a love song written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (all three Bee Gees) with a title courtesy of Ernest Hemingway, you score a #1 hit. This love song was #1 on the US Country, US Hot 100, US Adult Contemporary, Canada Top 40, Canada Country and Australia Top 40 charts. Wow.
So there you have it; eight great love songs of 1983 in the order of their appearance on the Top 40 charts of that year. Each song has been vetted and listened to (again and again) with the lyrics read and scrutinized to weed out any proper nouns (girls/guys names) troubled love like breakups, infidelity, done-me-wrong or lost love lyrics or and sort of unrequited love (like when the person doesn’t love you back). They’re safe for a wedding first dance, or just to dedicate to someone you love without having to explain that Billie Jean is not your lover.
Love the love…
Sources: The Billboard Book of Top 40 [Pop] Hits and The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B Hits by Joel Whitburn and Billboard’s Hottest Hot 100 Hits by Fred Bronson.