You Light Up My Life (song)

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For other uses, see You Light Up My Life.
"You Light Up My Life"
Single by Kasey Cisyk
(credited to Original Cast and
lip synched by Didi Conn in the film)
from the album You Light Up My Life
Released 1977
Genre Pop
Writer(s) Joe Brooks[1]
Producer(s) Joe Brooks
Certification Platinum

"You Light Up My Life" is a ballad written by Joseph "Joe" Brooks, and originally recorded by Kasey Cisyk for the soundtrack to the 1977 film of the same name.[1] The song was lip synched in the film by its lead actress, Didi Conn. The best-known version of the song is a cover by Debby Boone, the daughter of singer Pat Boone, which held the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for ten consecutive weeks in 1977, setting a new record for that time.

Original soundtrack recordings[edit]

Cisyk's original soundtrack recording was included on the film's soundtrack album, and later released as a single to bolster sales of the soundtrack album after Debby Boone included her version on her first solo album (also entitled You Light Up My Life). Although the soundtrack album was certified gold, peaking at #17 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, it never included Boone's hit single version of the song.

Cisyk's single was credited to "Original Cast", not to Cisyk herself, and only reached #80 on the Billboard Hot 100. Brooks also released an instrumental version of the song from the soundtrack as a single, but that version failed to chart.

Following the success of Boone's version, the song earned Brooks a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe Award and an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award.[1]

Chart performance (Original Cast single)[edit]

Controversies concerning Joseph Brooks[edit]

In a 2013 biographical essay about Cisyk,[2] Cisyk's second husband, Ed Rakowicz (who worked as a sound engineer, but not for this song), wrote that songwriter Joseph Brooks was initially pleased with Cisyk's recording of the song with orchestra (and her version appeared in the movie and soundtrack) but "tried to evade payment by false promises and by asking her to be an incidental actor in his film, implying huge rewards yet to come..."[2] Rackowicz claimed that Brooks made improper advances toward Cisyk, and after being rebuffed, didn't speak directly to her again, and continued to evade payments to her while commissioning another recording with Debby Boone. According to Rackowicz, "Besides wanting Boone to copy Kacey’s [sic][3] iconic hit reading of his songs, Brooks needed to cover up Kacey’s vocal leakage in the microphones in the piano recorded at the original demo session on which was overdubbed the orchestral track used in the film. Brooks didn’t want to pay to re-record the piano and orchestra again."[2] In a 2003 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Boone said, "I had no freedom whatsoever. Joe told me exactly how to sing it and imitate every inflection from the original recording."[4] Cisyk later retained a lawyer and sued Brooks for the fees she earned for her work on the record and for credit on the soundtrack, which she later received.[2]

In 2009, Brooks became the subject of an investigation after being accused of a series of casting-couch rapes.[5] He was indicted in May 2009 by the state Supreme Court for Manhattan (a trial-level court) on 91 counts of rape, sexual abuse, criminal sexual act, assault, and other charges. While awaiting trial, Brooks killed himself in May 2011.[6]

Debby Boone cover version[edit]

"You Light Up My Life"
Single by Debby Boone
from the album You Light Up My Life
B-side Hasta Mañana
Released August 16, 1977
Genre Easy listening, soft rock, adult contemporary
Length 3:35
Label Curb
Writer(s) Joe Brooks[1]
Producer(s) Joe Brooks
Certification Platinum
Debby Boone singles chronology
"You Light Up My Life"

In 1977, Debby Boone, Pat Boone's daughter, recorded the song under the guidance of Curb Records executive Mike Curb[7] and songwriter Joseph Brooks.[4] Boone recorded her vocals over a pre-existing instrumental track already developed by Brooks for the film soundtrack,[7] and it was released as both a Curb Records single and as the title track to her first solo album You Light Up My Life on Warner Bros. Records.

The single was an enormous success, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a (then) record-setting ten consecutive weeks. It became the most successful single of the 1970s in the United States,[8] and set a new Hot 100 record for most weeks spent at Number One. (Elvis Presley's double-sided hit "Don't Be Cruel/ Hound Dog", then recognized as the longest-running Number One of the rock era, spent eleven weeks atop the Billboard Best Sellers chart in 1956, before the 1958 debut of the Hot 100. The previous Hot 100 record was held by Percy Faith's recording of "Theme from A Summer Place" (1960) and The Beatles' "Hey Jude" (1968), both of which remained at #1 for nine weeks.)[9] The ten-week record was matched in 1982 by Olivia Newton-John's "Physical",[10] but never surpassed until a 1991 change in chart methodology allowed songs to achieve longer reigns at #1 ("End of the Road" by Boyz II Men set the new record, thirteen weeks).[11]

The single, which was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), also hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and reached #4 on the Country chart. The single peaked at #48 in the UK Singles Chart.[1]

Boone's hit single led to her winning the 1977 Grammy for Best New Artist, with additional Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance Female and Record of the Year. Boone also won the 1977 American Music Award for Favorite Pop Single.

Decades after its release, the Debby Boone version is still considered one of the top ten Billboard Hot 100 songs of all time. In 2008, it was ranked at #7 on Billboard's "Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs" list (August 1958 - July 2008).[7] An updated version of the all-time list in 2013 ranked the song at #9.[12]

Although it was written by Brooks as a love song, the devout Boone interpreted it as inspirational and proclaimed that it was instead God who "lit up her life." This fact was later alluded to when the song appeared in The Simpsons episode "I Married Marge" (Season 3, Episode 12).

Chart performance (Debby Boone single)[edit]

Chart precessions and successions[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" by Meco
US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
October 15, 1977 - December 23, 1977
(ten weeks)
Succeeded by
"How Deep Is Your Love" by Bee Gees
Preceded by
"We're All Alone" by Rita Coolidge
US Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
November 19, 1977 - November 25, 1977
Preceded by
"That's Rock 'N' Roll" by Shaun Cassidy
Canadian RPM charts number-one single
November 5, 1977 - December 3, 1977
(two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by Crystal Gayle

LeAnn Rimes cover version[edit]

"You Light Up My Life"
Single by LeAnn Rimes
from the album You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs
B-side I Believe
Released August 26, 1997
Format CD single
Recorded 1996
Genre Country
Length 3:37
Label Curb
Writer(s) Joe Brooks
Producer(s) Mike Curb
Chuck Howard
Wilbur C. Rimes
LeAnn Rimes singles chronology
"How Do I Live"
"You Light Up My Life"
"On the Side of Angels"

LeAnn Rimes released her version as a single in 1997, 20 years after Boone's version was released and on the same record label (Curb Records). Her version fared modestly by comparison to the original at radio (No. 34 Pop, No. 48 Country). However, her single was certified gold and was the title track to her No. 1 pop and country album, You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "You Light Up My Life"* — 3:37
  2. "I Believe"** — 2:22

* Note: Produced by Wilbur C. Rimes, Chuck Howard and Mike Curb.[14]
** Note: Produced by Wilbur C. Rimes.[14]

Chart performance (LeAnn Rimes single)[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[15] 57
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 34
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[17] 48

Other versions[edit]

Many artists have covered "You Light Up My Life" since 1977. Perry Como performed on Bob Hope's TV special in 1977 (then recorded for CD in 2000). The following year, Johnny Mathis recorded and named his album after the song (released as Single EP). The song has also been recorded by Loleatta Holloway, Jean Carn, Kenny Rogers, Angeline Quinto, José Carreras, Robert Goulet, Whitney Houston (for "Just Whitney..." 2002) and Samantha Cole; a French rendering entitled "Tu Remplis Ma Vie" was recorded by Anne Renée (fr). America's Got Talent (season 1) winner Bianca Ryan covered the song for her debut album (2006).

Patti Smith performed the song on the ABC television program Kids Are People Too, accompanied by Brooks on piano.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 136. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kvitka’s Biography by Ed Rakowicz, 2013 Accessed Jan 14, 2014.
  3. ^ Rakowicz's biography consistently spells the Americanized version of his wife's name as "Kacey" rather than "Kasey".
  4. ^ a b Brown, Scott (21 February 2003). "The Light Stuff". Entertainment Weekly. pp. 76–78. 
  5. ^ "'Oscar-winning composer, 71, raped 11 women using Craigslist to lure victims with promise of film role'" Accessed Sept 24, 2015.
  6. ^ Long, Colleen (2011-05-24). "Joseph Brooks Suicide: Medical Examiner Rules Songwriter Killed Himself". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  7. ^ a b c "The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs (10-01)". Billboard. July 2008. Archived from the original on 1 October 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  8. ^ "Readers' Poll: The 10 Worst Songs of the 1970s: 4 – Debby Boone – 'You Light Up My Life'". New York City: Rolling Stone. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-06-24. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 
  9. ^ Bronson, Fred (1 October 2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th ed.). New York: Billboard Books. p. 939. ISBN 978-0823076772. 
  10. ^ Bronson, p. 550.
  11. ^ Bronson, pp. 938-939.
  12. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (2 August 2013). "Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "You Light Up My Life / I Believe: Leann Rimes: Music". Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  14. ^ a b You Light Up My Life / I Believe (CD single). LeAnn Rimes. Curb Records. 1997. D2-73027. 
  15. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 3346." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. October 6, 1997. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  16. ^ "LeAnn Rimes – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for LeAnn Rimes.
  17. ^ "LeAnn Rimes – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for LeAnn Rimes.
  18. ^ "Video of the Day: Patti Smith Sings "You Light Up My Life" to Kids". Retrieved 24 February 2014. 

External links[edit]