One-Hit Wonder … Or Not? A Chat with Elliot Lurie of Looking Glass About 1972’s “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)”

Rock Cellar Magazine

In our newest One-Hit Wonder … Or Not? entry, guitarist/songwriter/co-vocalist Elliot Lurie of the band Looking Glass discusses his band’s career and whether he and his band mates consider themselves a “one-hit wonder” regarding their 1972 No. 1 single, “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl),” as featured on the group’s self-titled debut record.

What determines if a song is a “one-hit wonder”? This is a subject that’s become somewhat difficult to define, as there doesn’t seem to be one clear answer. Many people define it as an artist or band best remembered for one “signature” song that achieves mainstream popularity, especially one that stands the test of time, or a track that landed at precisely the right time and made an undeniable impact that is felt decades later. Even if the artist had other hits, that one single still seems to be the most widely known by the general public.

From the artist’s standpoint, there can certainly be a stigma associated with the phrase “one-hit wonder,” especially when many have had successful careers highlighting other charting singles, albums, tours, have produced or written notable songs for other artists, and have cultivated a devoted fan base around the world that helps them remain in the public eye. But the truth is, thousands of artists, both old and new, would give their left arm to have that one big hit.

Whatever your definition of “one-hit wonder,” there’s a nuance to the term that often goes overlooked and underappreciated, and it’s with that in mind that we present this new column.

Rock Cellar: Do you consider your band to be a “one-hit wonder”? Why or why not?

Elliot Lurie: I suppose I do. We did have another track, “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne,” that reached No. 33 on the Billboard charts but it’s recognized by so few compared to “Brandy” that I’ll wear the “one-hit wonder” mantle.

One’s better than none, I always say.

Rock Cellar: Were you able to recognize the impact your song was having at the time of its success, and did you imagine it would span the test of time like it has?

Elliot Lurie: You couldn’t avoid “Brandy” on top 40 radio in the summer of 1972. It sold a million copies, reached No. 1, so its impact was clear at the time. But I never dreamed it would sustain over the years as it has.

Rock Cellar: What was your greatest moment performing this song?

Elliot Lurie: I actually really enjoy performing it currently. It’s amazing to me that 50 years on audiences sing along to every line and react so positively.

Rock Cellar: Did you write the song with the intention that it would be a hit?

Elliot Lurie: I wrote it with the intention that it would be a song that the band could perform and record. And of course, we wanted to record a hit.

Rock Cellar: What was the initial reaction to the song? Did people take to it immediately, or did it take a while before catching on?

Elliot Lurie: A DJ in Washington DC played “Brandy” before it was released as a single. The request line went wild and our record label rush released the single.

As soon as it was on radio nationally, it steadily climbed the charts to No. 1.

Rock Cellar: What do you think was the reason for the song’s success?

Elliot Lurie: I think the story and the vocal are what had the most immediate impact. But the production was a little different too, with the horns and backing vocals. It’s been in a lot of movies and TV shows but the featured use in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had a huge impact.

That introduced the song to a whole new generation of listeners.

Rock Cellar: Apart from your loyal fan base that is familiar with all of your music, what would you say is another song of yours that people may know?

Elliot Lurie: I wrote the theme to the Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire.

Rock Cellar: What’s another song of yours that you would want people to know, either because it’s a personal favorite of yours or because it didn’t quite catch on as a single in the way you would have expected it to?

Elliot Lurie: I still really like “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne.” That record was produced by the great Arif Mardin and the band played really well on it.

Rock Cellar: Are you familiar with any notable covers of your song? If so, what did that feel like to see/hear another artist pay tribute in that fashion?

Elliot Lurie: There are a lot of covers I like. Kenny Chesney’s version is pretty faithful but with some of that country/beach vibe. Big Head Todd and the Monsters recently did a version that I love. Red Hot Chili Peppers doing it was a real kick.

Rock Cellar: What are you up to these days with your music career? Are you touring, recording new music, producing, anything like that?

Elliot Lurie: I occasionally do shows. I don’t have a regular band but I work with Yacht Rock Revue, Ambrosia and of course the Get Together Foundation’s annual benefit concert event at The Palace Theater in Los Angeles on April 23rd, 2022.

I still write, because that’s what writers do.

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