“With You I’m Born Again”

“With You I’m Born Again”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Carol Connors
“With You I’m Born Again”

Written by David Shire and Carol Connors
Recorded by Billy Preston & Syreeta for the film Fast Break

Originally, David Shire and I were supposed to write the theme for Rocky which his wife, Talia, was co-starring in. Bill Conti, Ayn Robbins and I wound up writing that theme, but fortunately David and I worked together on “With You I’m Born Again” for the film Fast Break.

David played me 16 bars of the melody and I thought it was one of the most exquisitely beautiful melodies I’d ever heard. It touched my heart. I went home and sat on my bed to begin to work on the lyrics. It was like God wrote it, like I plugged into a giant socket in the sky. It came to me immediately:

Come bring me your softness

Comfort me through all this madness…

(I almost threw out those lines. I thought people wouldn’t get it and they would hate it.) I wrote the song in 22 minutes. I couldn’t write the ideas down fast enough.

At the time, I was in love with Robert Culp and he was in love with me. It was the beginning of a two and a half year relationship. All I could think about was that I wanted him to feel this way about me and me about him and we did.

The entire song was written except for two words.

Come show me your kindness

In your arms I know I’ll…

Time went by and I’d go back to the song and I still couldn’t come up with those two elusive words. I had a deadline and knew I had to come up with them quickly. I took a “fast break” and went to Clancy Muldoon’s ice cream parlor. I loved their ice cream, especially the chocolate chip. I heard myself order “chocolate chip, paper, pencil — now!” The girl must have thought I was insane, but she got me a pencil and paper (and the chocolate chip ice cream cone) and I wrote down the elusive missing words:

Come show me your kindness

In your arms I know I’ll find this

Berry Gordy and Suzanne de Passe, to whom I brought the idea to make this a soundtrack, became the executive producers at Motown. They approached Billy Preston and Syreeta (Stevie Wonder’s ex-wife) to sing the duet, and we recorded it over New Year’s.

I executive produced the record and David Shire wrote the definitive arrangement. When Billy sat at the organ in the studio and played the music for one of the instrumental tracks, David said, “Now I know why Billy is considered a genius.”

When I reflect back on the song, part of me wishes I would have named it “Come Bring Me Your Softness” because in the beginning, when it was becoming a hit, so many people went into the stores and asked for that title. In fact, Berry called me himself to tell me that he heard the same thing. More importantly, he told me that when Robin Cousins skated to it in the Olympics, he and everyone else at Motown knew the song was a hit. To this day I thank God I didn’t throw out those two lines. Despite the fact that the film came and went, the song became a classic.

Some of the reactions were astounding. Marvin Hamlisch was in the barber’s chair when he heard it for the first time and almost got his neck cut when he jumped up in the chair.

I got a call from one of the leaders of the born again Christians who felt that the song was inspirational, and he wanted to know what my thoughts were about God when I wrote it. I told him, “I was actually thinking about Robert Culp — but he thinks he’s God, so I guess it’s okay.” He hung up the phone on me. Over the years I’ve heard that the song has been played as a hymn on different religious occasions.

There have been over 90 recordings of the song, both duets and solos, including Mariah Carey and John Legend, Johnny Mathis, Michael Crawford, and a jazz version by the legendary Barbara Morrison, but in my heart the definitive recording will always be that by Billy Preston and Syreeta.

“With You I’m Born Again”

Come bring me your softness

Comfort me through all this madness.

Woman, don’t you know

With you I’m born again?

Come give me your sweetness

Now there’s you, there is no weakness,

Lying safe within your arms

I’m born again.

I was half, not whole

In step with none

Reaching through this world

In need of one.

Come show me your kindness

In your arms I know I’ll find this.

Woman, don’t you know

With you I’m born again,

Lying safe with you I’m born again?

Come bring me your softness

Comfort me through all this madness

Woman, don’t you know

With you I’m born again?

Come give me your sweetness

Now there’s you, there is no weakness

Lying safe within your arms

I’m born again.

Woman, don’t you know

With you I’m born again?

I was half, not whole

In step with none

Reaching through this world

In need of one.

Come show me your kindness

In your arms I know I’ll find this.

Woman, don’t you know

With you I’m born again?

Lying safe with you I’m born again.

Words by Carol Connors. Music by David Shire. © 1979 CHECK OUT MUSIC. All rights Controlled and Administered by EMI BLACKWOOD MUSIC INC. on behalf of STONE DIAMOND MUSIC CORF. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Used By Permission.

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