This week I started with a song, “That’s What Friends Are For, ” by Dionne Warwick and friends, and then chose a book. Going with the spirit of the line,
Keep smilin’, keep shinin’,
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure.
That’s what friends are for.
I selected Gail Giles’s book, Girls Like Us. The story is about two girls, Qunicy and Biddy, who have absolutely nothing in common except mental disabilities. After finishing high school, there is no where for them to go. So they end up as roommates. It’s not friendship at first sight by any means, but by the end they have established a hard-won trust in each other. This is the kind of friendship I connect with the song, a solid connection that holds people together through all of life’s circumstances.
“That’s What Friend Are For” was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager in the early 80s. Rod Stewart sings it for the soundtrack of the movie Night Shift. Here’s Stewart’s version:
But the Dionne Warwick version is more famously known. In 1986, Warwick recorded it with Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder as part of a benefit for the American Foundation for AIDs Research. At the time, AIDS was a dreadful, mysterious disease; many musicians and celebrities died while waiting for AIDs research to begin. This is the version of the song most likely to be heard on an oldies station, I’ve omitted the video of that performance because it looks terribly lip-synced. Nevertheless, the voices sound fabulous together, so here’s the audio:
The clip below is from a live performance at the Soul Train Music Awards in 1987. The line-up here is Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder.
-Diane Colson, currently reading an advanced readers copy of Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver