Don't Leave Me This Way

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"Don't Leave Me This Way" is a song written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert. It was originally released in 1975 by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass, an act signed to Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International label. "Don't Leave Me This Way" was subsequently covered by American singer Thelma Houston in 1976 and British duo the Communards in 1986, with both versions achieving commercial success.

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes original version[edit]

"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes Don't Leave Me This Way single cover.jpg
One of artworks for Dutch vinyl single
Single by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
from the album Wake Up Everybody
B-side"To Be Free to Be Who We Are"
Released
  • November 1975 (as an album track)
  • November 1977 (as a single)
Recorded1975
Genre
Length
  • 6:08 (album version)
  • 3:59 (7″ edit)
  • 7:07 (12″ version)
  • 11:00 (1988 version)
LabelPhiladelphia International
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Kenneth Gamble
  • Leon Huff
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes singles chronology
"Tell the World How I Feel about 'Cha Baby"
(1976)
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
(1975)
"Reaching for the World"
(1977)
Audio sample

The Blue Notes' original version of the song, featuring Teddy Pendergrass's lead vocals, was included on the group's 1975 album Wake Up Everybody. Though not issued as a single in the United States at the time, the Blue Notes' recording reached number three on the US Billboard Hot Disco Singles chart in the wake of Thelma Houston's version. The song proved to be the group's highest-peaking entry in the United Kingdom, reaching number five on the UK Singles Chart, when released there as a single in 1977. It became the title track of a budget LP issued on the CBS Embassy label in the UK in 1978.[1] The track was finally issued as a 12-inch single in the US in 1979, coupled with "Bad Luck".

Charts[edit]

1975 weekly chart performance for "Don't Leave Me This Way"
Chart (1975) Peak
position
US Hot Disco Singles (Billboard)[2] 3
1977 weekly chart performance for "Don't Leave Me This Way"
Chart (1977) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[3] 78
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[4] 29
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[5] 13
UK Singles (OCC)[6] 5
West Germany (Official German Charts)[7] 44

Thelma Houston version[edit]

"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Thelma Houston Don't Leave Me This Way single cover.jpg
Single by Thelma Houston
from the album Any Way You Like It
B-side"Today Will Soon Be Yesterday"
ReleasedDecember 2, 1976
Recorded1976
Genre
Length
  • 5:42 (album version)
  • 3:29 (7″ single version)
LabelMotown
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Hal Davis
Thelma Houston singles chronology
"You've Been Doing Wrong for So Long"
(1976)
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
(1976)
"If It's the Last Thing I Do"
(1977)

"Don't Leave Me This Way" was covered by American singer Thelma Houston in 1976. Originally assigned to Diana Ross, it was intended to be the follow-up to her single "Love Hangover", but was reassigned to Houston instead.

Following the release of her fourth album Any Way You Like It, a Boston record pool unanimously reported positive audience response to "Don't Leave Me This Way" in discos, and the song was selected for release as a single.[8] Houston's version topped the US soul singles chart[9] and, nine weeks later, the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in April 1977. The song peaked at number 13 in the UK.[10] The song peaked at number one on the disco chart.[11] Later in the year, it was featured on the soundtrack to the film Looking for Mr. Goodbar. In 1978, "Don't Leave Me This Way" won the award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards.[12]

Houston's version was revived in 1995 in several remixes, which reached number 19 on the US Billboard dance chart and number 35 in the UK.[10] This version got Houston ranked number 86 on VH1's "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders", as well as the number-two spot on their "100 Greatest Dance Songs" list.

HIV/AIDS significance[edit]

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Houston's version of the song became an unofficial theme song for the AIDS epidemic in gay male communities of the west. American artist Nayland Blake created a work for the American Foundation of Aids Research about the epidemic that referenced the song and its significance in the community. An art exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia entitled "Don't Leave Me This Way – Art in the age of AIDS" opened in 1994 containing various works about the epidemic. A 246-page publication of the exhibition also followed.[13]

Charts[edit]

The Communards version[edit]

"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Communards with Sarah Jane Morris Don't Leave Me This Way single cover.jpg
Single by the Communards with Sarah Jane Morris
from the album Communards
B-side"Sanctified"
ReleasedAugust 1986
Recorded1985–1986
GenreHi-NRG[46][47]
Length4:50
LabelLondon
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Mike Thorne
The Communards singles chronology
"Disenchanted"
(1986)
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
(1986)
"So Cold The Night"
(1986)

In 1986, the song was covered by British duo the Communards in a hi-NRG version. This recording topped the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in September 1986,[48] becoming the best-selling single of the year in the United Kingdom. The featured guest vocalist was the female jazz singer Sarah Jane Morris. The song reached number 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard dance chart.[49] In 2015, the song was voted by the British public as the nation's 16th favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[50]

The song also had a music video, which showed the band performing in an underground setting with many fans. This included a blond stoic young man as part of the crowd simply watching. It turned out he was chased down and caught and forced to be an informant to a secret police of sorts. Near the end of the video, he finally radios in to them, and at the end they turn spotlights on the band and the crowd, forcing them to scatter.

Several remixes were issued, notably the "Gotham City Mix" which was split across two sides of a 12-inch single and ran for a total of 22 minutes 55 seconds.

The album liner notes dedicate the song to the Greater London Council (GLC).

Charts[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

  • A version of the song is featured in the stage musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert – the Musical during a funeral scene.
  • Ewan McGregor covers the song in "Elephant Love Medley" in the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge!
  • Andy Hallett sang in 2003 episode of Angel. Episode name: Life of the Party.
  • Episode 6 of the 2004 BBC musical drama serial Blackpool featured the Communards version, accompanied on screen by the singing and dancing of the characters, as part of the story.
  • Cher covered the song during her Las Vegas residency show Cher.
  • The song appeared in the 2015 film The Martian directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.
  • Liam sings the song as part of a karaoke set in Benidorm.

Samples[edit]

  • The 2012 song "Lying Together" by French Kiwi Juice samples vocals from Houston's cover.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hamilton, Andrew. "Don't Leave Me This Way – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  2. ^ "Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes | Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  3. ^ Kent 1993, p. 197
  4. ^ "Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – Don't Leave Me This Way" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  5. ^ "Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – Don't Leave Me This Way". Singles Top 100. Retrieved December 3, 2008.
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  7. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – Don't Leave Me This Way". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  8. ^ Stibal, Mary E. (October 1977). "Disco—Birth of a New Marketing System". Journal of Marketing. American Marketing Association. 41 (4): 82–88. doi:10.2307/1250240. JSTOR 1250240.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 262.
  10. ^ a b c d "Thelma Houston: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 124.
  12. ^ "Past Winners Search". Grammy Foundation. November 28, 2017. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  13. ^ Cosgrove, Stuart (May 10, 1995). "Don't leave me this way". The Independent. London.
  14. ^ Kent 1993, p. 142
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  17. ^ "Thelma Houston – Don't Leave Me This Way" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5264a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  19. ^ a b Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
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  27. ^ "Thelma Houston Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
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  46. ^ Robbins, Ira; Rompers, Terry. "Bronski Beat". Trouser Press. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
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  50. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (July 25, 2015). "The Nation's Favourite 80s Number One: 12 more classic 80s chart-toppers which didn't make the cut". Metro. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
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  62. ^ "The Communards Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
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  64. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles – Week ending September 13, 1986". Cash Box. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
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Bibliography[edit]