Song of the Day: The Crusaders, “Street Life” (1979)

The Crusaders, Street Life (1979)
From the album Street Life (MCA)
Written by: Will Jennings, Joe Sample

The Crusaders had been active players on the jazz scene since the days of hard bop in the ’50s and had evolved in many ways over the years, up to the release of their biggest hit, “Street Life,” which came in 1979. This song marked a period during which they embraced the jazz-funk idiom and the heyday of the songwriting team of pianist Joe Sample and lyricist Will Jennings.

The groove of “Street Life” contrasts the dramatic edge of the street, which actually explores a rather dark side of the title lifestyle, and evokes a sort of Emile Zola vibe of predestination. The protagonist sings about how she is essentially stuck in a life of prostitution because it’s the only life she knows, while also somewhat giving it credit for the experiences she has had that have helped her acquire a tough skin, becoming stronger and more responsible.

Strangely, The Crusaders went downhill from there and never again reached the peaks of the success of this hit which, on the other hand, marked the beginning of the career of its lead vocalist Randy Crawford. Although she received no name credit on the label of the single, everyone agreed a star was born, and a year later, her solo album Now We May Begin would feature another international hit, “One Day I’ll Fly Away,” also written by Sample and Jennings.

“There’s always love for sale a grown-up fairytale / Prince Charming always smiles behind a silver spoon / And if you keep it young, your song is always sung / Your love will pay your way beneath the silver moon.”

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