"You Are So Beautiful" is a song credited to Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher that was first released in 1974 on Preston's ninth studio album, The Kids & Me. It was also the B-side of his single "Struttin'". Later that same year, English singer Joe Cocker released a slower version of the song on his album I Can Stand a Little Rain. Cocker's version was produced by Jim Price, and released as a single in November 1974.[1] It became Cocker's highest-charting solo hit in the United States, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 (Cocker's biggest hit on the US pop chart was "Up Where We Belong", a duet with Jennifer Warnes from the 1982 film An Officer And A Gentleman, which reached number 1),[2] and at number four on Canada's Top Singles chart.

"You Are So Beautiful"
1980s UK vinyl re-release
Single by Joe Cocker
from the album I Can Stand a Little Rain
B-side"It's a Sin When You Love Somebody"
ReleasedNovember 2, 1974
Songwriter(s)Billy Preston, Bruce Fisher
Producer(s)Jim Price
Joe Cocker singles chronology
"Midnight Rider"
"You Are So Beautiful"
"Up Where We Belong"
Music video
"You Are So Beautiful" on YouTube

Although he remains uncredited by the publisher as of 2023, several sources assert that Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys assisted Preston in completing the song by co-writing the lyrics and modifying part of the melody at a contemporaneous party.[3] Wilson performed the song live with the Beach Boys (often as an encore with minimal accompaniment) from 1975 until his final performances with the group in 1983. Kenny Rankin, Ray Stevens, Kenny Rogers, Bonnie Tyler and Brian Kennedy are also among the artists who have covered "You Are So Beautiful". The song has also been featured in numerous movies, television shows, and ads.

Background edit

Billy Preston wrote "You Are So Beautiful" with one of his regular collaborators, Bruce Fisher.[4] Preston's inspiration was his mother, who worked as a stage actress. According to his friend Sam Moore (who had assumed it was a standard love song), Preston was appalled to learn that Moore was using the song as a means to attract young women each time he sang it in concert. In Moore's description, Preston told him: "That song's about my mother!"[5] The composition interpolates part of Preston's 1969 song "Let Us All Get Together (Right Now)",[6] which he wrote with soul singer Doris Troy.[7]

According to Beach Boys biographer Jon Stebbins, although Dennis Wilson is not credited as a writer, he helped Preston finish writing "You Are So Beautiful".[8] Preston and Wilson are said to have collaborated on the song while attending a party where they discussed the concept of beauty.[9] In the opinion of Craig Hlavaty, writing for Houston Press, while Wilson never sought to claim a share of the song's authorship, "if you check out Wilson's solo work, you can hear where Wilson's mind took over 'Beautiful.'"[8]

Billy Hinsche, a close friend and longtime touring member of the Beach Boys, stated that he witnessed Preston and Wilson working on the song "out of the corner of my ear and the corner of my eye" at the party.[10] He said that he was unaware of how much of the song Preston had already written prior to Wilson's involvement. "Maybe it was just [Wilson's] interpretation of the song. Later Dennis said to me, 'Well, you know, I helped write that song.'"[10] In a 2004 interview, brother Brian Wilson denied whether Dennis was "one of the uncredited writers".[11]

Dennis sang "You Are So Beautiful" (usually as an encore) at Beach Boys shows intermittently from 1975 until his final performances in 1983. A live rendition, circa 1978, and an edited 1983 live rendition both appear in the film The Beach Boys: An American Band (1985). A live version was released on the group's album Good Timin': Live at Knebworth England 1980 in 2002.

Composition edit

"You Are So Beautiful" was originally published in the key of A♭ major in common time with a tempo of 70 beats per minute. Cocker's vocals span from B♭2 to E♭4.[12] The song is unusual in that the chord progression does not include the "V" chord.

Critical reception edit

Marc Lee of The Daily Telegraph noted the song's contemplative beginning, accompanied only by piano, followed by "lush strings" which "sweep in and carry [Cocker] off into passionate ecstasies". Lee commented that the song, one of Cocker's best-known works, was a good example of Cocker's ability to be both gentle and "gloriously stirring".[13]

Live performances edit

Cocker performed the song along with Ray Charles in a 1983 television tribute to Charles, A Man and his Soul.[14]

Personnel edit

Charts edit

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Silver 200,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other renditions edit

In other media edit

  • Television programs have used commercial recordings of the song. Seventies-themed sitcom The Wonder Years used a recorded version of the song in Season 6, Episode 16, "Nose", where it played at the end of the episode at a school dance where Kevin's friend Ricky loses a girl with a large nose just as Ricky had come to appreciate her.
  • Joe Cocker's version was used on Episode 24, Season 11 (Only Just Began) of Knots Landing in a montage in which a drunk Danny Waleska ends up hitting Pat Williams with his car.
  • The song was heard in Two and a Half Men Season 4, Episode 23, ("Anteaters. They're Just Crazy-Lookin'"), sung by guest Enrique Iglesias.[32][33]
  • An episode of Home Improvement ("Jill's Birthday") accompanied the song with a montage of photos of Jill Taylor (Patricia Richardson) in her early age.
  • The song played in Season 5, Episode 9 of Full House.
  • The film Modern Romance (1981) includes an instrumental version of the song in its opening and closing titles, and also uses Joe Cocker's version to underscore its final scene.
  • Joe Cocker's version was also used in the film Carlito's Way (1993) and plays during Gail's apartment scene and over the film's end credits.
  • In the American comedy movie The Little Rascals (1994), the song is sung by Alfalfa to Darla on a boat.
  • The song was comically sung by Seann William Scott in the 2001 film Evolution. His character, Wayne, did so in a mall to get the attention of an alien terrorizing the customers, much to the dismay of his two acquaintances, Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and Harry Block (Orlando Jones).
  • In Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Dave and Mike sing the song in Jeanie and Eric's Wedding.
  • In 2016, the song appears in the season one finale of Quantico entitled "Yes", first sung by a drunk Caleb Haas (Graham Rogers) and Brandon Fletcher (Jacob Artist) celebrating their graduation, then leading into the Joe Cocker version for the remainder of the scene.
  • The song appears in a 2018 TV commercial for Toyota.[34]
  • In The Simpsons season 2 episode "Simpson and Delilah," a singing telegram employee serenades Marge with the song when Homer forgets their anniversary. At the end, when Homer loses all the hair he grew with no way of growing it back, Marge tenderly sings it to him in bed.
  • In The Boys, as The Deep hallucinates that his gills are speaking (with Patton Oswalt's voice), they start singing the song, and he eventually goes along.[35]
  • In The Walking Dead season 10 episode "Here's Negan", Negan plays the song throughout the special, talking about how it was his wife Lucille's favorite. [36]

References edit

  1. ^ "'You Are So Beautiful' by Joe Cocker: Record Details". 45cat. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 58.
  3. ^ "Wilson's talent sings forth on 'Pacific' re-release". Chicago Tribune. 20 July 2008. Retrieved 2019-12-15.
  4. ^ Tobler, John (2011). I Wrote a Simple Song/Music Is My Life (CD booklet). Billy Preston. BGO Records. pp. 7, 8.
  5. ^ Wakeman, Rick (presenter); Wilson, John (producer) (2010). Billy Preston: That's the Way God Planned It (Radio 4 on Music documentary). bbc.co.uk.
  6. ^ Winn, John C. (2009). That Magic Feeling: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy, Volume Two, 1966–1970. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-307-45239-9.
  7. ^ Davis, Andy (2010). That's the Way God Planned It (CD booklet). Billy Preston. Apple Records.
  8. ^ a b Hlavaty, Craig. "The Secret History of 'You Are So Beautiful'". Houston Press. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  9. ^ Collins, Ace (2013). Music for Your Heart: Reflections from Your Favorite Songs and Hymns. Abingdon Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-4267-7604-5.
  10. ^ a b Dillon, Mark (2012). Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys: The Songs That Tell Their Story. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-77041-071-8.
  11. ^ Ronnie (2004). "Interview with Brian Wilson (10-16-04)". Ear Candy. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  12. ^ "Joe Cocker - You Are So Beautiful". musicnotes.com. 11 October 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Lee, Marc (December 23, 2014). "Joe Cocker: 5 essential tracks". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  14. ^ Lynch, Joe (December 22, 2014). "R.I.P. Joe Cocker: 7 Essential Moments, From Woodstock to 'SNL'". Billboard. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  17. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 3955." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  18. ^ "Joe Cocker – You Are So Beautiful" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  19. ^ "Music: Hot 100 - Billboard Hot 100", Billboard, March 29, 1975, retrieved April 14, 2018
  20. ^ "Adult Contemporary Chart - Billboard", Billboard
  21. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 4/05/75". Tropicalglen.com. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  22. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  23. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1975/Top 100 Songs of 1975". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  24. ^ "British single certifications – Joe Cocker – You Are So Beautiful". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
  25. ^ "Hot Country Songs". Billboard. June 26, 1976. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  26. ^ "Bob James - Heads". Allmusic. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  27. ^ "The Kenny Rankin Album". Allmusic. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  28. ^ Adams, Greg. "Kenny Rogers - We've Got Tonight". AllMusic. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  29. ^ "Bonnie Tyler - Silhouette in Red". Allmusic. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  30. ^ "Brian Kennedy - Interpretations". Allmusic. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  31. ^ "Susan Wong - 511". Allmusic. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  32. ^ "Two and a Half Men S04E23 Episode Script - Anteaters. They're Just Crazy-lookin'". Springfield! Springfield!. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  33. ^ "Enrique Iglesias Serenades Charlie's Girlfriend - Two and a Half Men". YouTube/Comedy Central U. January 1, 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  34. ^ "Toyota TV Commercial, 'So Beautiful'". Ispot.tv. 2018. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  35. ^ "The Boys star Chace Crawford talks filming Patton Oswalt's 'bizarre' cameo in season two". Radio Times. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  36. ^ "The Walking Dead: 10 Things Fans Learned In "Here's Negan" About The Character". ScreenRant.com. 7 April 2021. Retrieved 1 June 2021.