“Now and Forever (You and Me)”
Written by David Foster, Randy Goodrum, and Jim Vallance
#1 (1 week)
April 26, 1986
Anne Murray’s final No. 1 country single is in the same pure pop vein as recent chart-toppers by Dolly Parton and Rosanne Cash.
What distinguishes “Now and Forever (You and Me)” from those two hits is the producer, who in this case is David Foster. He’s one of the most accomplished producers in music history, and all of the elements that have earned him that title are present on this record.
They’re just paired with the wrong artist.
Foster’s talent is pushing his vocalists to their limits, which allows them to remain fully present on a very busy backing track. This worked wonders with everyone from Olivia Newton-John (“Twist of Fate”) to Whitney Houston (“I Will Always Love You”) to Celine Dion (“The Power of Love.”) It’s been less effective for vocal stylists like Neil Diamond (“The Best Years of Our Lives”) and Madonna (“You’ll See”), who unlike the former artists, had their best vocal performances recorded by producers other than Foster.
Anne Murray is definitely in the latter category. She oversings the hell out of this song, and still doesn’t keep up with the bombastic production around her. Her gorgeous phrasing is nowhere to be found, whereas it was allowed to fully shine on her signature hits “You Needed Me” and “Could I Have This Dance.” I’d put both of those records up there with the best that have ever been made, which makes her collaboration with Foster that much more disappointing. He didn’t understand how to use her gift.
Murray will continue to be a presence on country radio through the end of the decade, and she earned her final top ten hits in 1990 with “Bluebird” and “Feed This Fire.” Both of those appeared on You Will, which would also provide a top ten hit for Patty Loveless when she covered the title track.
Murray has since retired from public life, but it’s important to note that her decade after leaving country radio was as “off the grid” successful as we saw with the Statler Brothers. Through direct mail and infomercials, she released multiple gold and platinum albums, including Country Croonin’ and What a Wonderful World, while her catalog has continued to sell well into the 21st century. Her final studio release, Duets, went double platinum in Canada, and her career-encompassing hits collection The Best…So Far went platinum in America.
“Now and Forever (You and Me)” gets a C.
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