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'You Got The Love' - The Remarkable Success Of The Song That Never Was

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One unlikely - to say the least - coincidence which cropped up at this year's round of party conferences, was the selection by the leaders of both Labour and Conservative parties for their speech theme music recordings to be by Florence And The Machine.

While David Cameron bounded on stage to the refrain of Dog Days Are Over, Ed Milliband opted to sidle off stage to the oomph of You Got The Love.

The wibbly-wobbly way which led You Got The Love to the finale of the Labour conference is one of the more surreal tales from the frequently unhinged pantheon of pop music. A good old yarn.

In the mid 80s, a Chicago comedian called Dick Gregory was in the Bahamas, trying to raise funds for a weight-loss fitness video project aimed specifically at obese people. Dick had found a leading character of bulk proportions by the name of 'Big' Ron Hey. Dick had tempted Big Ron with an offer of $250,000, plus a Rolls Royce, should Ron achieve the target of shedding the best part of 700 pounds (in weight...) over the course of the video programme.

Dick's 'Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet' was intended to be a money-spinner. Dick needed a theme tune for the video. Fortuitously for Dick and Big Ron, passing through the same conference centre was Canzetta 'Candi' Staton, whose career had been on a steady downward trajectory since her smash hit debut of 1976, Young Hearts Run Free (a UK number 2 in 1976).

Gregory approached Candi and, with no brief for the lyrics, Staton repaired to Chicago to record - unaccompanied - a few uplifting obesity video-style phrases.

According to Candi...

"It all started with this big guy called Ron, who weighed about 850 pounds. Dick Gregory the comedian was in the process of producing a video to promote a diet plan he'd concocted.

They took Big Ron to Nassau to film the video - I think they had to remove the door to his apartment to get him out...I happened to be in Nassau at the same time and Dick asked me if I would record the title track to the video, which I was more than happy to do.

No one really bought the video, so I completely forgot about it, until - a few years later - a friend told me I was number one in England!"

Well, not quite number one - number three, actually, in February 1991.

Dick - a "fanatic fruitarian", according to Ms Staton - and Big Ron's project turned out to be an ill-fated one. The funds never materialised, the video sank without trace, and that appeared to be the end of the story. Ron never got his $250,000, or the Rolls-Royce, and died at an early age.

You Got The Love, however, had an afterlife. Staton's disembodied vocals somehow found their way to Europe and into the mitts of a certain DJ Eren. The DJ knocked up an instrumental backing track to the vocals and - shazam! - Euro smash hit-ness, in 1991.

Candi had apparently completely forgotten about her acapella exertions five years earlier and was unsurprisingly taken aback by news that a non-existent track by her was taking the UK by storm.

It pretty much goes without saying that no one considered contacting Ms Staton for the consent/clearance and the predictable court proceedings began their lengthy and Pyrrhic perambulations.

A reissue in 1997 saw a second top five, and a 2006 version by Shapeshifters yielded yet another top ten visit.

A recent Cowell-esque flight of no-brainer "if it's been a hit three times already, why not have a pop at a fourth" strategy duly did the job for Flo and her machine.

So, the current tally currently stands at four UK top tens - not bad going for the song that never was...

And if you wondered what the 'song' is all about, according to Candi, "It's a song about life". So, there you go.

Around the Web

Florence the Machine - You've Got the Love - YouTube

Florence The Machine - You've Got the Love - YouTube

You Got the Love - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE - YOU'VE GOT THE LOVE LYRICS

The Source – You Got the Love – Video, listening & stats at Last.fm