It was 1984 and it had been four years since I had finished my first album. I had also been married for three years, and more than once discussions with our friends turned to how men didn't tell their wives very often that they loved them. I thought it might be good material to write a song about, and especially good if I could give it to my wife Ann as a present for our upcoming anniversary, so I started working on music and lyrics whenever she wasn't around. Both the music and lyrics for a piano ballad came pretty easily, and after a few days I had practiced the parts well enough where I knew I could record it quickly in Alan's studio if I had a chance. I called Alan, set up an evening to go into the studio, and told Ann I was going to spend the evening with Alan reminiscing in his studio (the truth, but not all of the other details). That first night's session lasted until very late, but I had all of the basic tracks down. I went back the next night and finished. As we were doing the final mix, one of the last lines of the song ("Ann, I love you") caught the attention of a couple of married guys who were visiting the studio. These two guys could see the value of giving their wives a personalized song telling how much they loved them, so they tried to negotiate with me on how much it would cost to change 'Ann' to their wife's name. I took that as a compliment on my song, which I think Ann still loves to this day.
By the time I went back to the studio to record this anniversary present for my wife, Alan had upgraded to a 16-track automated mixdown system and was part owner in the music store across the parking lot. I had planned to just lay down a simple piano ballad doing some background vocals, but the music store happened to have a new $5,000 electronic keyboard that Alan wanted to hear in the studio and I obliged with 9 or 10 tracks from this fantastic keyboard. After all of the tracks I had planned to record were done, I mentioned to Alan that it was funny that we had no drums in this piece, because drums add a certain intensity (and the ending lacked intensity). Wouldn't you know he had a set of kettledrums (tympani for you hard-core music educators) in a closet in the back that he had been wanting to try out for months. I didn't do anything complex, but the simple, short tympani part made the finale of this song. All of the musical parts for this song were performed by me, with Alan doing the recording, and he and I both doing the final mix (our last collaboration).
Behind the Scenes
Except for one tough vocal harmony phrase, all of the recording was done in one take for every single part. I was amazed at how well the session went. After the basic parts of the song were recorded, we were playing back those tracks before the 'string' parts were added with that fancy keyboard. I was playing around with the keyboard and my fingers just ran up an arpeggio that gave both Alan and me goose bumps - so I put that riff in too. Everything just fell in place like this song was always meant to be recorded.