Song of the Day, April 22: Just Once by Quincy Jones (featuring James Ingram)

Quincy-Jones-The-DudeToday’s song is Just Once. It appears on the 1981 Quincy Jones album The Dude. Perhaps best known as a superstar producer with hundreds of credits to his name, most of Jones’ albums were jazz recordings, showing off his talents as a bandleader and performer. As he launched his own label, Qwest, he took care of his contractual obligations to A&M with two pop / R&B discs that showcased his uncanny ability to find and guide talent. The Dude is the second of these, sandwiched between his best known production work: Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall and Thriller.

The Dude is a great set of pop, jazz, and light funk. It features Patti Austin, a singer who had been recording for over a decade but found her best success working with Jones. It is also noteworthy for debuting singer James Ingram, who went on to have a strong solo career. Austin and Ingram also scored a #1 hit with the duet Baby Come to Me produced by Jones for Austin’s album Every Home Should Have One.

Just Once is a sad ballad written by pop songwriting legends Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. In less capable hands it could reduce to mere schmaltz despite the strong writing. Jones knows just how to make the tune work, however, and Ingram’s first charting vocal (#17 in 1981) is spectacular. He wrings the emotion out of the song without devolving into pathos.

Just once
Can’t we figure out what we keep doing wrong
Why we never last for very long
What are we doing wrong.
Just once

Enjoy this beautiful pop masterpiece today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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