How Lionel Richie Restored My Faith in Love
Life has a weird way of introducing you to things. Inspiration is behind every corner, and this was literally true for Lionel Richie’s biggest solo hit, “Hello.” Released in 1983, this song wasn’t planned in the way many musicians get in the studio and write. Lionel said something humorous with no intention of sparking a classic record, but producer James Anthony Carmichael immediately saw a vision.
“It was a joke,” he told CBS. “My producer James Anthony Carmichael, he was coming by the house and he walked around the corner, I said, “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” And I’m falling out laughing. He turned to me and said, “finish that.” I finished the song and we lushed it up with strings.”
Knowing that Richie and Carmichael created “Hello” by pure circumstance is a similar story to how I discovered and fell in love with his music. An episode of Family Guy featured Peter giving Lois a copy of Can’t Slow Down. She’s confused, as always with his antics, but he said “I didn’t know who I was until I heard this album.” Then, we get a short cutaway of Peter listening to “Hello,” asking who hurt Lionel and on the verge of tears.
The whole scene is meant to be laughed at, but it was life-changing for me. That short snippet of the song eventually compelled me to listen to Lionel’s discography. I still remember clicking play on The Definitive Collection in May 2013, following a rough break-up. It was the soundtrack of my summer as I tried to rekindle with the idea that love exists and it’ll happen one day (Jesus, young Sermon, stop being overdramatic. You were together for two months.)
In the history of music, I believe nobody has been able to articulate love like Lionel Richie has. He makes it sound like the greatest thing in the world. From the thrill of the early stages (“Hello”) to being in the full blown love bubble (TAKE YOUR PICK, THERE’S MANY!), you listen and want to experience the same thing. He makes love believable like it’s a delicious donut you can pull out of the box.
If social media existed in the earlier years of Lionel Richie’s career, I couldn’t imagine not seeing caption after caption. Love, anniversaries, celebration, and the list of choices to pull from go on and on. There’s never enough ways to say “I love you” and Lionel has proven that. His catalog is peppered with caption worthy lyrics, a testament to how he’s created timeless music that still feels fresh in later generations.
“It’s my pleasure to love you baby for better or worse”
Lionel even had break-ups covered with “Sail On.” I was making noise like I was at a football game when he sang, “I gave you my heart and I tried to make you happy/And you gave me nothing in return.” Young Sermon felt those lines in his soul while he was being a punk ass crybaby four years ago.
Safe to say that Lionel Richie not only provided me with entertainment, but he gave me hope when I felt like there was none. He sang lyrics of what I wanted and made me feel like I could fall deep in love one day. Looking back, I needed his music to push me forward when I felt nobody else in my life could. He’s one of the greatest to ever make music, and hands down my favorite singer of love.
With 40 years plus in the industry, Lionel has continued to live his second album title with each passing year. Whether he’s being honored, touring or working on new music, it seems like nothing will slow the man down. It’s simple, really, because love doesn’t go away, and Lionel Richie is love.