Piano in the Dark

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Piano in the Dark"
Piano in the Dark - Brenda Russell.jpg
Single by Brenda Russell
from the album Get Here
ReleasedFebruary 2, 1988
Length5:20 (album version)
4:20 (single version)
  • Brenda Russell
  • Jeff Hull
Brenda Russell singles chronology
"If You Love (The One You Lose)"
"Piano in the Dark"
"Get Here"

"Piano in the Dark" is a song by American singer-songwriter Brenda Russell (featuring backing vocals by Joe Esposito). It was the first single to be taken from Russell's 1988 album, Get Here.

Song information[edit]

Russell, believing "that in every title there's a song somewhere" made a habit of "collecting" interesting phrases she heard and placing them in a notebook for potential song titles. It was through this process that she wrote the lyrics to "Piano in the Dark" as the title seemed to fit with the music her co-writers sent her. [1] In the early stages Russell did not understand what the title would refer to eventually deciding it was about

" ...this woman. Her lover plays piano. And she wants to leave him, because she's really kind of bored. But every time she does that, he sits down and starts playing. And it sucks her right back in. She's so in love with the way he plays. And he plays in the dark, theoretically. It's not that literal, necessarily. But that's what keeps her to him, basically, is his music. And I just found that was an interesting story to write about." [1]

Initially "Gravity" was planned to be released as the first single, however Herb Alpert pushed to have "Piano" released instead feeling that it better represented her as an artist. [2]

"Piano in the Dark" was released in early 1988, nine years after Russell's previous charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 (1979's "So Good, So Right"). The song gained heavy airplay and became Russell's biggest hit, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 8 on the R&B Chart[3] and number 3 on the Adult Contemporary Chart. The song was also a moderate hit in the UK, peaking at number 23.

The song earned Russell two Grammy Award nominations in 1989, including one for Song of the Year.

Music video[edit]

There are two music videos. The first version, filmed in black-and-white, shows Brenda looking depressed in her apartment as she tosses cards in a derby and thinks about her lover, a long-haired blond man playing on the piano. The second video was filmed in color and mostly shown in the US where a smiling Brenda is shown performing with her band (including Joe Esposito) in a dimly lit nightclub with many people during a thunderstorm at night.


Chart (1988) Peak
Canada RPM Top Singles[4] 23
UK Singles Chart 23
US Billboard Hot 100 6
US Billboard Hot R&B Singles 8
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 3

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Position
United States (Billboard)[5][6] 81

Cover versions[edit]

  • Pianist Alex Bugnon covered the song from his popular 1989 album Love Season.[7][8]
  • AMP (Alan Matthews Project) released a 1991 version of the original song with a dance beat, using Brenda Russell's vocal.
  • British actress/singer Bonnie Langford covered this song on her four track CD Limited Edition in 1996.
  • Filipina singer Nina Girado covered the song for her live album in 2005. This version features her higher notes on the chorus' second line "oh no, I gave up on a riddle, I cry just a little when he plays piano in the dark" near the end.
  • Pop/rock singer Jennifer Rush recorded a version on her 1997 album Credo.
  • The song was covered by house music singer Shanie and remixed as a dance track by 7th Heaven.
  • George Howard covered this song on his 1989 album "Personal."
  • John Tesh and Gerald Albright recorded their own version for Tesh's 1995 album "Sax on the Beach".


  • The song was sampled by 2Pac & tha Outlawz for the song "U Can Be Touched," from their 1999 album, Still I Rise.
  • The song was sampled by Steve Angello in the EDM track "Davali" in 2004.
  • Sixty-9 vs Discodrive featuring DJ Fierce sampled the chorus under the song "Rainbow" in 2006.
  • August 3, 2009, Guy Robin is sampled is track "Cry A Little".
  • Danny-S Vs. TAITO sampled the chorus under the song "Rainbow" in 2010.
  • Vinylshakerz is sampled in its song "Rainbow" in 2011.
  • In 2011, the Bingo Players released a dance mix "Cry (Just a Little)", which consisted entirely of a repetition of the first line from Piano in the Dark's main chorus: "I know I'm caught up in the middle, I cry just a little, When I think of letting go".
  • Roger-M is sampled using the vocal of Neu Era was the song "Letting Go (Piano in the Dark)" in 2011.
  • Qwote sampled the song for his 2012 single featuring Pitbull "Letting Go (Cry Just a Little)".
  • Bingo Players' version was also used in Flo Rida's 2012 hit "I Cry".
  • July 23, 2013, Paolo Tuci is sampled is track "Piano In The Dark (Cry Just a Little)", As for the female vocals are Lafaux (Stefania Del Prete).
  • The single "Cry" by Stefan Rio from 2016, sampled the chorus.


  1. ^ a b G, Carrie. "Songwriter Interviews Brenda Russell". Songfacts. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  2. ^ Hunt, Dennis. "Russell Shines With 'Piano in the Dark'". Los Angelis Times. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 507.
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1988-06-25. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  5. ^ "1988 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. 100 (52): Y-20. December 24, 1988.
  6. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1988". Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  7. ^ "Love Season overview". Allmusic.com.
  8. ^ "Berks Jazz Fest 2008: Alex Bugnon". SmoothVibes.com.

External links[edit]