Eric Carmen More Than Just That Drunk From The “Dirty Dancing” Soundtrack

So Eric Carmen pleaded “no contest” to a drunk driving charge yesterday, the result of an incident wherein he got drunk-ish (three times the legal limit!) and drove his car into a fire hydrant outside of Cleveland. Starting April 25, the “Hungry Eyes” singer will spend a month in jail. Wait, “Hungry Eyes” singer? Don’t you mean the “All By Myself” singer, Lucas? Nope. According to the Associated Press, the Cleveland rocker’s contribution to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack is his most enduring legacy. Here is a quick scan of headlines out there:

‘Hungry Eyes’ singer jailed for Ohio drunken drive — The Associated Press
Thirsty ‘Hungry Eyes’ Singer Gets Jail Time — Popeater
‘Hungry Eyes’ Singer Eats a Jail Sentence — TMZ

Only the Cleveland Plain Dealer mentioned the Raspberries in its headline, and that’s his hometown paper. The gossip sites just took “Hungry Eyes” and ran with it. Maura and I both thought this was pretty weird. I know that Dirty Dancing, despite being the most anachronistic movie this side of A Knight’s Tale, retains a level of popularity normally bestowed on bacon-covered fast food items, but the man has some pretty big hits. “Hungry Eyes” peaked at No. 4 on the charts in 1987, but a few months later, “Make Me Lose Control” (otherwise known as “Turn The Radio Up” by me until today) peaked at No. 3! And “All By Myself” went to No. 2 and was covered by Celine Dion, who took it to No. 4. Surely the headline could just as easily read “‘All By Myself’ singer is a drunken monster”?

This is all characteristic of the weird kind of effluvia that passes for music coverage in the non-music press. Sure, the AP story mentions the Raspberries and Carmen’s other hits in passing, but when they had to choose a song, they chose the one from Dirty Dancing, even though I’ve heard “All By Myself” and “Make Me Lose Control” as much, if not more, in my lifetime. In the end, if you can tie even the most vaguely music-related story to something other than music-–a TV show or movie or celebrity-–it has a better chance of making an impact.

Let’s cleanse our palates with some non-”Hungry Eyes” Eric Carmen content!

The Raspberries, “Go All The Way/I Want To Be With You”

Here are the Raspberries ripping through their two biggest hits (that weren’t covered by Shaun Cassidy). Carmen’s smooth voice is often in contrast with the rockin’ hooks, but I dig that about them. The guy wasn’t afraid to be a singer. You can go here to watch them talking to Joe Namath and Billie Jean King.

The Raspberries, “Don’t Want To Say Goodbye”

I’ve got a soft spot for this Raspberries ballad. I’m a sucker for Badfinger, Raspberries, the Hollies et al. when they slow it down.

Eric Carmen, “All By Myself”

What’s wrong with making love being just for fun?

Eric Carmen, “Make Me Lose Control”

This video is something else. That bikini girl at the beginning is so ’80s hot.

‘Hungry Eyes’ singer jailed for Ohio drunken drive [Associated Press]

  • Chris Molanphy

    Nice writeup.

    I have long wanted to devote a post here to “songs belatedly perceived as an act’s essential hit,” even when chart data or statistics don’t seem to bear it out. Carmen and “Hungry Eyes” is a good example. Others that leap to mind are Elton John and Fleetwood Mac, now most beloved on the radio for songs that weren’t actually singles in the ’70s (“Tiny Dancer” and “Landslide,” respectively); or Tears for Fears, which thanks to Donnie Darko and other flicks now gets more airplay for “Head Over Heels” or “Mad World” than they do for the chart-topping “Shout” or even “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

    Also, re: Carmen, you might enjoy this blog post by Gavin Edwards from his excellent, ongoing MTV Top 100 Countdown of 1988 series of posts.

  • Maura Johnston

    the best use of ‘all by myself’ ever comes at the 3:15 mark:

  • iantenna

    the real story here is that, even after all these classic tunes and licensing royalties, the dude still lives in cleveland.

  • iantenna

    also, my fave raspberries jam.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @Chris Molanphy: Two for your eventual list that come to mind: “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel and “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys.

  • MayhemintheHood

    WTF? A dude sings “All By Myself”?

  • saturn

    @MayhemintheHood: Exactly! When I hear it in my head, it’s a Carpenter’s song. And yes, I’m talking about the Eric Carmen version, not the Celine Dion cover.

  • Anonymous

    Well, “All By Myself” is a joke, right? I mean, any song that Celine Dion can sing that well should not be taken seriously. It’s a bathos laden piece of tripe that is only artistically effective when highlighting the pathetic sadness (Bridget Jones) or faux sadness (see above)of film characters. If I were Eric, I would take the royalties and hope no one mentions that I wrote that song.

    And I love the Raspberries, but they’re essentially a cult band. They’re like Big Star with one major, almost 40 year old hit. “Hungry Eyes” is probably a safer bet to use if you want most readers to know who the hell you’re talking about. I had the Raspberries greatest hits on when I was home recently and my mom had no idea who the band was. I played “Go All The Way” and she knew after that, but she was really impressed when I said the singer sang “that song from Dirty Dancing”.

    Plus, “Hungry Eyes” is a great song and probably closer to a Raspberries song than ABM. Put some fucking crunchy guitars and some big drums on that and stick it in the reunion set list!

  • TriedandTrue

    Off topic but GOOD GOD his hair is huge in that “Make Me Lose Control” video.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @TriedandTrue: Off topic but GOOD GOD his hair is [wonderful] in that “Make Me Lose Control” video.


    I fixed that for you.

  • The Gavin Report

    Carmen also wrote “Almost Paradise,” which was sung by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson on the Footloose soundtrack.

  • DrWorm

    I didn’t pay too much attention to The Raspberries/Carmen, but then I recently heard I Can Remember and was blown away.

  • Anonymous

    The Raspberries were gods…

  • remarkie

    He also did “Never Gonna Fall In Love Again.”

  • Dana’s Got A Gun

    Yeah, I’d think that papers would be concerned about misleading headlines as more people associate Celine Dion with that song now (right?). Although that would net more excitement/pageviews, so I’m now not sure why they’re not going that route.

  • KikoJones

    George Clooney has jokingly said that the first thing in his obit will probably be a mention of being bestowed People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1995. Now Carmen has an idea of how his obit is going to read. [sigh]