“Are You On the Road to Lovin’ Me Again”
Written by Debbie Hult and Bob Morrison
#1 (1 week)
May 3, 1980
Debby Boone was born into a musical family, as one of the four children of legendary pop singer Pat Boone and a grandchild of Red Foley, her mother’s father. By age fourteen, she was touring with her family, and she had some AC hits with her family as the Boones. Record producer Mike Curb saw the potential in Debby as a solo act, and she had a massive pop hit out of the gate, spending ten weeks at No. 1 with “You Light Up My Life,” a record only matched by fellow genre-hopper Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” in the pre-Soundscan Hot 100 era.
“You Light Up My Life” was also a top five country hit, and that was the genre where her label focused on for a few years. Their efforts started off slowly, with the biggest post-“Life” hit being a top fifteen cover of the Connie Francis classic, “My Heart Has a Mind of its Own.” But in 1980, she led off her fourth studio album, Love Has No Reason, with her only No. 1 country hit to date.
“Are You On the Road to Lovin’ Me Again” is an interesting listen. Boone disavowed her country efforts as inauthentic shortly after its chart impact, and dedicated herself to Contemporary Christian music from that point forward. But it’s a decidedly more country effort than much of what the genre stalwarts were releasing at the time, with a simple acoustic guitar hook and some hints of twang in the arrangement, if not in the vocal performance.
It’s nothing special lyrically, and Boone has the same kind of vanilla vocal style that made her father the go to guy for sanitizing rock hits a generation earlier. If nothing else, it’s pleasant radio filler from an artist that performed country music respectfully, even if she had no real interest in recording it.
Boone went top fifteen with her next single from Love Has No Reason, and had one more top thirty hit before leaving the genre entirely. Her recording has been sporadic ever since the eighties ended, but has remained solidly in the Contemporary Christian genre.
“Are You On the Road to Lovin’ Me Again” gets a B.
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In defense of Debby, “Are You On The Road To Loving Me Again?” is a more-than-decent effort in the pop/country genre on her part; and even though her voice, as was the case on “You Light Up My Life”, isn’t necessarily out-of-the-park great, it’s good enough. And give her credit for this–at least she wasn’t bowdlerizing rock and roll the way her father did in the 1950’s as the parent-approved alternative to “that Elvis guy”.
I thought this review was consistent with all of the points you made!
I had the strangest response to this post. I was completely unaware of Debbie Boone as a country artist. The song title didn’t immediately register with me either. When I clicked the link, however, I immediately fell into singing every word of the song, a real lesson in the staying power of music. Makes me worry about the amount of brain space I have dedicated to lyrics of songs I can’t even recall!
This is obviously an inoffensive and harmless nostalgic pleasure for me, a joy even. It is so light and hopeful. There is even a naive, passive innocence of inevitably to it.
Sort of the polar counter-point to Dottie West’s “Lesson in Leaving,” no?
“Makes me worry about the amount of brain space I have dedicated to lyrics of songs I can’t even recall!”
I’m right with you Peter.
Debbie Boone was a lightweight confection.
I do think that Pat Boone is unjustly maligned. I remember hearing a Fats Domino interview on the radio may years ago where Fats made two points: 1) many of the folks buying Pat’s recordings normally would not have purchased Fats’ recordings anyway, so he and a number of other R&B artists/songwriters received substantial royalties from Pat’s recordings (moreover sometimes Pat’s cover renewed interest in the original recording) and, (2) the fact that the clean cut Boone recorded a song made it difficult for parents to object to a song on its merits.