Sunday, September 11, 2016

God Rock Sunday: Yvonne Elliman - "I Don't Know How to Love Him" (1971)

Yvonne Elliman - "I Don't Know How to Love Him" (Billboard #28, entered 4/24/71). Written and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. 45: "Overture: Jesus Christ Superstar"/"I Don't Know How to Love Him" (Decca 1971). LPs: Jesus Christ Superstar (Decca 1970); Yvonne Elliman (Decca 1972).

Multiple song renditions still went to battle on the pop charts in the early seventies, a decades-long tradition that finally fizzled out (with few resurgences) after Lost Horizon circa 1973. In the case of "I Don't Know How to Love Him," Hawaiian singer Yvonne Elliman's original 1970 romantic paean for Jesus charted two months after Helen Reddy's cover version did, and one month after a low chart entry by a group called the Kimberlys. Reddy took it to #13, while Elliman, whose version featured a memorable Moog simulation of a wooden flute, saw hers underperform at #28. (In early 1972, she would compete with a version by Petula Clark on the UK singles chart.) For some reason, the 45 issue of Elliman's version placed it on the B-side of the non-radio friendly Jesus Christ Superstar overture. She'd later perform the song in the 1973 film as the beshawled Mary Magdalene.

The successful Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera LP, written and produced by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice, launched a respectable seventies chart run for Elliman, crescendoing with "If I Can't Have You," her #1 hit from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. By 1980, she'd turn her back on the music biz to raise her two kids.

Yvonne Elliman - "I Don't Know How to Love Him" (1971)

Also see: The "Jesus Christ Superstar" hit parade

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