35 Things You Didn’t Know About

Daryl Hall & John Oates’ ‘VOICES’


On July 29, 1980, Daryl Hall & John Oates released their breakthrough album ‘Voices.’ We celebrate the 35th Anniversary of ‘Voices’ with 35 fun facts that you may not know about this classic album.

1) The band “Hall & Oates” doesn’t actually exist

In an interview with Esquire magazine, John Oates said, “There isn’t one album that says Hall & Oates. It’s always Daryl Hall and John Oates. From the very beginning. People never note that. The idea of ‘Hall & Oates’, this two-headed monster, this thing, is not anything we’ve ever wanted or liked.”

2) ‘Voices’ was Hall & Oates’s 10th album

As John Oates told Tavis Smiley, “I’m glad that we came up at a time when record companies actually invested in careers…I wouldn’t want to be a new artist. It’s very tough.”

3) ‘Voices’ was a make or break album for Hall & Oates

As Voices engineer Neil Kernon remembers, “The first meeting I had with Daryl and John was at a sushi restaurant in New York, and the first thing that John said to me was, ‘Neil, just so you know, if this album doesn’t do really well, it’s probably going to be our last album.’”

4) ‘Voices’ was Hall & Oates’ first self produced album…and they credit that for the album’s success

John Oates: “We realized the only way to get it right by our own criteria was to do it ourselves…The Seventies were basically ten years of getting there. We worked with great producers: Arif Mardin, Chris Bond, David Foster. All that work with those various people influenced us in a lot of ways but it also frustrated us in a lot of ways. As good as a lot of that stuff was it wasn’t exactly what we wanted.”

5) The album title has a special meaning

Daryl Hall: “Producing ourselves, we featured our own voices. We changed our whole approach to harmony.”

6) Voices marked the birth of the Hall & Oates blend

Upon the album’s release, Daryl remarked that Voices signaled “the beginning of the real Hall & Oates. Everything before this was just practice. This was where we figured out how to put rock and soul together.”

7) ‘Voices’ was influenced by punk, new wave and power pop

Neil Kernon: “Daryl was influenced by Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello and The Police, and he wanted to try going for a more guitar heavy sound on the record. He felt their previous two albums were perhaps a bit too slick.” John Oates: “A a musician you’re always affected by the sound of the times. There was a certain sound in the air during the early Eighties. It was like musicians were stripping away the excess, the over production of the late Seventies. It was getting back to basics.”

8) ‘Voices’ got off to a slow start

The first single wasn’t “Kiss on My List” or “You Make My Dreams.” It was the John Oates-led “How Does it Feel to Be Back,” which topped out at #30 on Billboard’s Top 100 chart.

9) “How Does It Feel To Be Back” is one of Daryl’s favorite John songs

Daryl Hall: “I always thought ‘How Does It Feel To Be Back’ was a great song. I force him to play it today.”

10) The Byrds-influenced sound of “How Does It Feel To Be Back” comes from an unusual instrument

In this period. Daryl Hall frequently played his own creation, the Mandar, an electric guitar with eight strings like a mandolin, tuned like a cello.

11) Second single “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” was added to the album as an afterthought

John Oates: “The Voices album was finished. We listened to all the songs and there was something missing on the record… Daryl came in the next day and said ‘Why don’t we try a version of “Lovin’ Feeling”?’ That day we recorded it, sang it, finished it, and added it to the album.”

12) The inspiration to cover “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” came from an unlikely place

Daryl Hall: “I was in the Mudd Club and I heard ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.’ For years I had heard people say, ‘You guys sound like the Righteous Brothers.’ So I heard this and I said, ‘wow, that really does sound a lot like John and I.’ And I thought, ok, sounds like us, people talk about the Righteous Brothers, I hear it in the Mudd Club, which is definitely a barometer of what’s cool at this particular time and place. If we’re ever gonna do it, it’s time to do it now.”

13) “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” was Hall & Oates’ biggest hit in four years

Reaching #12, it was their highest charting single since “Rich Girl” hit #1 in 1977, and perfectly set them up for their next #1 hit.

14) “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” was only the second cover song to appear on a H&O album

Known for their songwriting, Daryl Hall & John Oates have recorded relatively few songs by other writers. The first was 1975’s reggae cover “Soldering,” from the Silver Album.

15) Voices was a family affair

Daryl’s girlfriend Sara Allen (yes, the same Sara from “Sara Smile” and “Las Vegas Turnaround”) and her younger sister Janna were key songwriting collaborators with Daryl & John, and contributed to three of the songs on Voices.

16) “Kiss on My List” was first song Daryl ever wrote with Janna Allen

Daryl Hall: “She had a little Wurlitzer piano in her apartment in L.A. and we just started writing literally standing there in a room. She started singing things, it was very much the two of us writing together.

17) The version of “Kiss on My List” that’s heard on Voices is actually the original 4 track demo

Daryl Hall: “We went back to New York and recorded the song as a demo for [Janna] on a 4-track machine in the studio. But everyone loved it so much we decided to put it ‘as is’ on Voices…I love the piano sound we got and the Roland CompuRhythm ‘Rock and Roll 1’ groove is so primitive it’s priceless.”

18) Think “Kiss on My List” is a love song? Think again

Daryl believes people misunderstood the meaning of the lyric to “Kiss on My List.” Rather than a love song, Daryl says “It’s an anti-love song. It means that your kiss is only on the list of the best things, it’s not the only thing. Everyone thinks it’s ‘I love you and without you I would die.’ It’s the exact opposite of that.”

19) “Kiss On My List” was the first Hall & Oates video ever shown on MTV

It was 204th video shown on MTV’s first day on the air, August 1, 1981

20) “Kiss on My List” was preceded at #1 by “Rapture” by Blondie and followed by “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” by Sheena Easton

Can’t get much more early ’80s than that!

21) ‘Voices’ marked the last time for a long time that you could catch Hall & Oates at a club

Once “Kiss On My List” hit, the rest of the ’80s were spent in arenas and stadiums.

22) G.E. Smith, Hall & Oates’ lead guitarist on Voices and many of their other albums, went on to lead the band on “Saturday Night Live” for about a decade

He missed some dates on the Voices tour, though, while gigging with David Bowie.

23) ‘Voices’ was the first Hall & Oates album to spin off four Top 40 hits

The album’s fourth single, “You Make My Dreams,” hit #5 on Billboard’s singles chart.

24) “You Make My Dreams” has become Hollywood’s go-to Hall & Oates song

It has been featured in the television shows King of the Hill, The Office, Saturday Night Live, Cupid, Rookie Blue, Private Practice, and New Girl as well as the films Step Brothers, Dumb and Dumberer, The Wedding Singer and (500) Days of Summer.

25) The cast of Glee performed the song as part of a mash-up including another one of Hall & Oates songs, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” in the episode “Mash Off”

26) You Make My Dreams” was sampled on Amerie’s 2007 song “Take Control,” produced by Cee-Lo Green, who was later a guest on Live From Daryl’s House

27) Hall & Oates’s early music videos weren’t big budget affairs

28) “Everytime You Go Away” was Voices’ hidden hit

Although the original Hall & Oates version was never released as a single, “Everytime You Go Away” was covered five years later by British soul singer Paul Young, who made it into a #1 hit.

29) The sick beat introduced on “Africa” became part of the DNA of ’80s pop

30) “Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear The Voices)” had a dark inspiration.

Daryl Hall: “‘Son of Sam’ mentioned ‘Rich Girl’ was an influence on him. He got his rage up thinking about that song when he was killing people. I was at John’s apartment and The Daily News had a story about a subway axe murderer or subway slasher…I said, ‘Let’s write a song about a slasher or axe murderer who keeps hearing these voices in his head. Whenever he hears these doo-wop voices in his head it makes him kill people just like ‘Rich Girl’ did.’ So that’s what we wrote about.”

31) Another mega-hit almost made the Voices album.

Daryl Hall: “I wrote ‘No Can Do’ for the Voices album and I had this chorus but no verse. When I was writing for the Private Eyes album I remembered I had written this thing and sat down at a keyboard, and a verse just popped out after alike a year and a half.”

32) Voices anticipated the modern re-release trend.

The album had multiple album covers. The first pressings had an embossed cover, with Daryl breaking out of his jacket.

The second pressing eliminated the embossing and had Daryl in a different pose:

And by 1981, the cover had changed entirely:

33) ‘Voices’ was on the album charts for 100 weeks

That’s just a couple weeks shy of two years, and the longest chart run for any Daryl Hall & John Oates album.

34) ‘Voices’ was the first Daryl Hall & John Oates album to sell over a million copies and be certified Platinum.

But it wouldn’t be their last, with six more Platinum albums following it up the charts.

35) ‘Voices’ was the first album that the writer of this list ever owned.

Can’t believe I’m old enough to have owned it for 35 years! D’oh!


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