The first thing I’m going to say about Sarah Brightman’s “Him” is that it has a stellar cover. Look at it. Gaze at it. Dream about it, for Pete’s sake.
The song represents the first lap with Brightman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was released as a single in 1983. The lyrics were courtesy of Richard Stilgoe, who is apparently a big fan of anagrams. He is also apparently quite adept at writing a song from almost any source – and doing it quite quickly and cleverly to boot. He would go on to collaborate with Webber by writing some of the lyrics to The Phantom of the Opera. He also wrote the lyrics for Webber’s 1984 rock musical Starlight Express.
In all due deference to Stilgoe, there’s nothing really remarkable about “Him.”
The music, arranged by Webber, comes from Hubert Parry’s “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” from the “Judith” oratorio.
Melodically, this is a pretty straightforward classical crossover pop piece. Brightman’s voice ably handles the proceedings and she runs her lines well, enunciating like only she can. She isn’t called on to do much, though, and perhaps it could be said that “Him” serves as a bit of a test for what’s to come. The foundation is being laid, so to speak, and Webber is checking out the limitations and innumerable gifts of his Angel of Music.
Proceeds from the sale of the “Him” single were donated to the Royal College of Music’s Centenary Appeal.
The song was originally cribbed from spiritual/religious origins, due in large part to Parry’s piece of art, but Stilgoe and Webber moved it into corporeal topography. It becomes, under their watchful and eager eyes, a more straightforward tune about love and men – about “Him” – and the potentially interesting spiritual undertones are snipped.
What can be said about “Him?” Not much. It is another stone in the foundation, I suppose, but it’s nothing overly remarkable. Brightman purists may swear by it – maybe – but casual fans won’t be overly moved and most people can and should just skip it.
The vinyl single release of “Him” features “Memory” from Cats.
Now, the video below is of a live performance of “Him.” It is not the somewhat mythical actual music video, which I covet greatly, but it is amusing nonetheless. Pay special attention to the Hot Gossip throwback as Brightman busts more than a few moves. I’m not sure if she was brutally clawed by a wild animal right before taking the stage, but there it is.