The Greatest Love of All

The very popular song, “The Greatest Love of All” was originally written for George Benson in the late 70s by Michael Masser and Linda Creed. Benson’s performance of Masser & Creed’s song was first included in the movie, “The Greatest”, which was about the life of Mohammed Ali.  A movie starring himself- if you can imagine that– that he co-wrote with two other lesser known human beings about himself, his life, and his career up until the late 70s.

The song’s core meaning was driven by one of the composer’s battle with breast cancer in the late 70s.  It peaked pretty well for Benson in 1977 (#2 on the R&B billboard Charts), but it took a young Whitney Houston to cover the song on her debut record that made it what we the majority know it to be. It became an international hit that launched the young Houston into pop stardom and endless parties, accolades, etc.  She would go on to star in a reality TV show with ex-husband Bobby Brown for a short time before planning a comeback for most of the 2000s.  Houston eventually died in February 2012 from a drug overdose.

The song’s original co-composer, Linda Creed, died in 1986 after succumbing to years of battling cancer.  Note, this is the same year Houston made the song written by Masser and Creed the hit that it is.  The sad karma surrounding this song didn’t stop there.

Gordon Lightfoot, a critically acclaimed Canadian songwriter who wrote songs for Johnny Cash, Elvis, and so many more– who had a few radio hits himself– filed a lawsuit against the song’s composer(s) Michael Massey in 1987.  Claiming that Masser stole 24 bars from Lightfoot’s 1969 hit, “If You could Read My Mind“, he claimed, “It really rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t want the present-day generation to think that I stole my song from him.”

We won’t be playing any version of “The Greatest Love of All” in this post because everyone that’s still breathing should have heard it by now. (Those who haven’t, our apologies and you are better person for it.) Take a listen of Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind”.  It’s pretty obvious to spot the 24 bars that Lightfoot’s lawsuit was based on:

Many people have associated the song with love, and children, making them, spreading the love for life is short- you know, make those babies, y’all.  (Go on now all you poor, poor people of the world, make those babies!) The song’s popularity revealed deeper layers of sadness soaked in cancer battles, composition thievery, and cold, hard true facts about an awfully pathetic song that millions of people everywhere simply love for all the wrong reasons.

We’re with you, Mr. Lightfoot.  Why would you want anyone to think you’re associated at all with Masser and Creed’s song?  It’s a song that starts off hopefully with those famous words:
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way 

And leads to the self-defeated, pathetic chorus with:
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me 

Me, me, me. Congratulations to millions of people who think this song is about making more children.
“The Greatest Love of All” is one of pop music’s greatest turds that no one can seem to flush away for good, forever, bye bye.



© 2012 Andy Whorehall Dot Com (SM)

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