“Get Here”

“Get Here”

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

Brenda Russell
“Get Here”

Written and Recorded by Brenda Russell

"Get Here” is my biggest song to date. I spent a few months living and recording in Sweden. I was under a lot of pressure to create a hit song for the album I was working on. The record company was fixated on a dance hit, which was popular in the ’80s, but this melody came to mind. Since I knew that it wasn’t what they were asking for, I tried to put it out of my head. Usually if I don’t write it down right away, I forget it. (I don’t read or write music) But the next morning, the music was still in my head. Since that never happens to me, I thought that if I worked on it right away I could let it go.

My apartment was an old penthouse and my piano was in a beautiful octagonal room with windows overlooking a spectacular view of Stockholm. I played the melody while looking out of the window, and I started thinking about all of the ways you could get to a person. It became a game:

You can reach me by railway, you can reach me by trailway

You can reach me on an airplane, you can reach me with your mind

From there, I wrote it fairly quickly. One day soon after, when my engineer came to visit, I sang it for him. I rarely do that, but I wanted his feedback. I thought it was really corny at first. He thought it was beautiful.

When I got back to Los Angeles, I dragged the song around to so many places but I was having trouble getting a record deal. I had no money, but my manager and I decided to take a risk and get a place for me to perform live in concert. We invited a lot of industry people and friends. Herb Alpert, president of A&M Records was in the audience. While I was singing “Get Here,” people started yelling out loud. Melissa Manchester said that everyone at her table looked like Alice Cooper, with makeup all over their faces from crying. Herb signed me to his label because of that concert and he particularly fell in love with “Get Here.”

But, if you want to hear something wild, a man came up to me that night and said that he had a new artist he’d like to record the song. It was someone by the name of Whitney Houston. If I’d known then what I know now, would I have let her record it? Probably not. I had a lot of faith that recording “Get Here” would get me the record deal I was looking for, and it did.

In 1991, Oleta Adams recorded it. The irony is that she first heard it when she was shopping in a store in Stockholm! She loved the song and as soon as she got home, she recorded it. After it was finished, my publisher played it to me over the phone and I cried. Fortunately, it became very popular.

That was around the time of the first Gulf War. So many people dedicated messages to loved ones in the Gulf on the radio playing this song for them. Some of the responses I got were the most intense I’ve ever had. One soldier told me, “I lost my mind and you helped me to get it back.” I’ve never forgotten that. Someone else said he wanted to kill himself but that when he heard my song on the radio, instead he drove 40 miles in the rain to buy the record. Unbelievable. It gave me a great, great feeling to help to ease someone’s heart.

“Get Here”

You can reach me by railway

You can reach me by trailway

You can reach me on an airplane

You can reach me with your mind.

You can reach me by caravan

Cross the desert like an Arab man

I don’t care how you get here just

Get here if you can.

You can reach me by sailboat

Climb a tree and swing rope to rope

Take a sled and slide downslope

Into these arms of mine.

You can jump on a speedy colt

Cross the border in a blaze of hope

I don’t care how you get here just

Get here if you can.

There are hills and mountains between us

Always something to get over

But if I had my way surely you would be closer,

I need you closer.

You can windsurf into my life

Take me up on a carpet ride,

You can make it in a big balloon

But you better make it soon.

You can reach me by caravan

Cross the desert like an Arab man,

I don’t care how you get here just

Get here if you can.

Lyrics and Music by Brenda Russell. © 1984 Rutland Road Music

More stories from our partners