Elliot Lurie's 'Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)' Included In 'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2'
When singer, songwriter and musician ELLIOT LURIE heard that "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" was one of James Gunn's favorite songs and would be prominently featured in the film Guardians of the Galaxy 2, he says his life had come full circle. "It's always been the music," ELLIOT says. The LURIE-composed "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" rocketed to the top of the charts in the summer of 1972, when his group Looking Glass was signed by Columbia Records President Clive Davis to the Epic label. The single sold more than one million copies and, it's fair to say, became a permanent part of the all-time pop music playlist.
"Guardians of the Galaxy 2 claims this song is 'Earth's finest composition'" (New York Post [5-4-17]), and it's the most prominently featured song in the film. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times said, "'Brandy' is not, however, the kind of song you'd typically think of to put on the soundtrack for a big-budget sci-fi-superhero movie in the year 2017. Unless, of course, you're James Gunn. And unless the movie is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In that case, it would be so perfect, you'd build a whole plot point around it... 'I needed a way to ground people emotionally,' says Gunn, who, at 46, grew up with songs like 'Brandy'--which he counts as a personal all-time top-10 favorite--as part of his childhood musical wallpaper. 'My thinking was that these AM pop hits would give the audience something they can hold on to that's very familiar amidst all this strangeness.'"
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is filled with great action, humor and performances, but it is also infused with a new mix-tape and soundtrack, a dynamic that resonated deeply with audiences in the first film as evidenced by the success of the soundtrack album. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is a collection of 14 songs and once again, music plays an important role in the telling of the story.
Looking back, LURIE can conjure the place his journey began, a neighborhood of 31 apartment blocks in Brooklyn. His life as an engineering student took a turn when everything exploded with "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" topping the charts. Looking Glass (LURIE, drummer Jeff Grob, keyboardist Larry Gonsky and bassist Pieter Sweval) did chart another single, "Jimmy Loves Maryanne." But matching the massive success of "Brandy" proved too tall an order. Within a few years they broke up. LURIE put out a solo album on Epic and a few singles on Davis's new Arista label. When they didn't connect, he weathered several depressing years in Manhattan before heading out west to Los Angeles, where he began a career as a music supervisor.
"I learned the business. I learned what a sync license is, what a master use license is, how you put music up against the picture and interact with the director and producer," he says.
Turns out LURIE had a knack for this sort of work. Initially with Becky Mancuso and later as a senior executive at 20th Century Fox and ultimately as an independent, time and again he found the right music to fit to key moments on TV and in films, blockbusters as well as art-house projects: 9 1/2 Weeks, Less Than Zero, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Die Hard, the Home Alone series and many more.
Years had passed since he'd written songs or played much guitar. And then a fortuitous call came in from Yacht Rock Revue--a group which performs the feel-good sounds of the 70s and 80s soft rock. ELLIOT explains: "I didn't even know what Yacht Rock was! They explained that "Brandy" was one of their most popular songs and invited me to perform with them."
Soon he felt that familiar urge to get back onto a stage, to find the visceral satisfactions he had set aside for too long. LURIE was being put in front of a younger audience and he began brushing up his chops, writing some and playing a lot. When a friend asked him to sing a few songs at a New Year's Eve party, LURIE agreed. After it was over, he knew he had just taken his first step back toward where he had begun--and that it felt entirely right.
Now, at his Palm Desert, CA home, LURIE has returned to writing. He has already spent several years performing regularly with the Atlanta-based Yacht Rock Revue throughout the country for audiences as young as their 20s and yet know every syllable of "Brandy." He's also been playing intimate solo concerts, just himself and his guitar, in small clubs and at "house concerts."
"Obviously I'm not doing this for the money," he says. "It's just that I really enjoy putting myself up there with a guitar, doing an hour of some of the old songs and some of the new songs, telling some stories and seeing how they connect."
"You write 'em, you sing 'em in front of people. Whether it's for 50 people or in a bigger format, I'm back to doing what satisfies me most."