"You Light Up My Life"
Vocal side of the US single
Single by Kasey Cisyk (credited to Original Cast)
from the album You Light Up My Life: Original Soundtrack
  • "You Light Up My Life"
  • (instrumental)
ReleasedAugust 16, 1977 (Charted the week of September 3)
Songwriter(s)Joe Brooks[1]
Producer(s)Joe Brooks
Music video
"Kasey Cisyk and Didi Conn - You Light Up My Life(1977)" on YouTube

"You Light Up My Life" is a ballad written by Joseph Brooks, and originally recorded by Kasey Cisyk for the soundtrack album to the 1977 film of the same title.[1] The song was lip synced in the film by its lead actress, Didi Conn. The best-known cover version of the song is a cover by Debby Boone, the daughter of singer Pat Boone. It held the No. 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for ten consecutive weeks in 1977 and topped Record World magazine's Top 100 Singles Chart for a record 13 weeks.[2]

Original film version

Kasey Cisyk, 1989

Cisyk's original soundtrack recording was included in the film's soundtrack album. It was then later released as a single to bolster sales of the soundtrack album after Debby Boone included her version on her first solo album (also titled You Light Up My Life). Although the soundtrack album was certified Gold, peaking at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, it never included Boone's hit single version of the song.

Cisyk's single was credited to "Original Cast", not to Cisyk herself, and even though Brooks is listed on the A-side of the single, the "Original Cast" B-side charted on the Billboard Hot 100 and only reached No. 80. Brooks also released an instrumental version of the song from the soundtrack as a promotional single, but that version failed to chart.

Following the success of Boone's version, the song earned Brooks a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award.[1]

Track listing

7" vinyl single

  1. "You Light Up My Life" (Instrumental) — 3:02
  2. "You Light Up My Life" (Original Cast) — 3:29

Chart performance (Original Cast single)

Chart (1977) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100 80

The Joseph Brooks controversies

In a 2013 biographical essay about Cisyk,[3] Cisyk's second husband, Ed Rakowicz (who worked as a sound engineer, but not for this song), wrote that songwriter Brooks was initially pleased with Cisyk's recording of the song with orchestra (and her version appeared in the movie and soundtrack) but "tried to evade payment by false promises and by asking her to be an incidental actor in his film, implying huge rewards yet to come..."[3] Rackowicz claimed that Brooks made improper advances toward Cisyk, that after being rebuffed, he refused to speak directly to her again, and that he continued to evade payments to her while commissioning another recording with Debby Boone.[citation needed]

According to Rackowicz, "Besides wanting Boone to copy Kacey's [sic][4] iconic hit reading of his songs, Brooks needed to cover up Kacey's vocal leakage in the microphones in the piano recorded at the original demo session on which was overdubbed the orchestral track used in the film. Brooks didn't want to pay to re-record the piano and orchestra again."[3] In 2003, Boone admitted, "I had no freedom whatsoever. Joe told me exactly how to sing it and imitate every inflection from the original recording." in an interview with Entertainment Weekly Magazine.[5] Cisyk later retained a lawyer and sued Brooks for the fees she had earned for her work on the record and for credit on the soundtrack, which she later received.[3]

Debby Boone version

"You Light Up My Life"
Side A of the US single
Single by Debby Boone
from the album You Light Up My Life
ReleasedAugust 16, 1977
RecordedApril 1977
LabelWarner Bros.-Curb
Songwriter(s)Joe Brooks[1]
Producer(s)Joe Brooks
Debby Boone singles chronology
"You Light Up My Life"
Debby Boone, 1997

In 1977, Debby Boone, Pat Boone's daughter, recorded the song under the guidance of Curb Records executive Mike Curb[7] and songwriter Joseph Brooks.[5] Boone recorded her vocals over a pre-existing instrumental track that Brooks already had developed for the film's soundtrack.[7] The song was released as both a Warner-Curb Records single and as the title track to her first solo album, You Light Up My Life, which she released on Warner Bros. Records, Curb Records' parent label.

Cash Box said that "Ms. Boone builds it to a powerful emotional peak as a massive string section lends support."[8]

The single became the biggest single of the 1970s in the United States,[9] setting a new Billboard Hot 100 record for most weeks spent at number one. Elvis Presley's double-sided hit "Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog", then recognized as the longest-running number one song of the rock era, spent eleven weeks atop the Billboard Best Sellers chart in 1956, before the 1958 debut of the Hot 100. The previous Hot 100 record was held by Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife", Percy Faith's recording of "Theme from A Summer Place" (1960) and the Beatles' "Hey Jude" (1968), all three of which remained at No. 1 for nine weeks.[10] The ten-week record was matched in 1982 by Olivia Newton-John's "Physical",[11] but was not surpassed until a 1991 change in chart methodology allowed songs to achieve longer reigns at No. 1. In 1992, "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men would set the new record with 13 weeks.[12]

Besting her chart performance in Billboard, Boone's "You Light Up My Life" single topped Record World's Top 100 Singles Chart for an unbroken record of 13 weeks.[2] On Billboard's chart, Boone was unseated from No. 1 by the Bee Gees, with "How Deep Is Your Love", the first of three No. 1 singles from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. On Record World's chart, Boone kept the Bee Gees out of the number-one spot. In Cash Box magazine, "You Light Up My Life" managed only an eight-week stay at the top of the chart, before being dethroned by Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue". Its least-lengthy run was on the Radio and Records chart, with six weeks at No. 1 before relinquishing the spot to the Bee Gees;[13] it had knocked Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" out of the top spot after only one week.

The single, which was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), also hit No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and reached No. 4 on the Country chart. The single peaked at No. 48 on the UK Singles Chart.[14] Boone's hit single led to her winning the 1978 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, with additional Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female and Record of the Year. Boone also won the 1977 American Music Award for Favorite Pop Single.

Decades after its release, the Debby Boone version is still considered one of the top ten Billboard Hot 100 songs of all time. In 2008, it was ranked at No. 7 on Billboard's "Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs" list (August 1958 - July 2008).[7] An updated version of the all-time list in 2013 ranked the song at No. 9.[15]

Although it was written by Brooks as a love song, the devout Boone interpreted it as inspirational and proclaimed that it was instead God who "lit up her life." This fact was later alluded to when the song appeared in The Simpsons episode "I Married Marge", Season 3, Episode 12.

Track listing

  1. "You Light Up My Life"* – 3:35
  2. "Hasta Mañana"** – 3:12

* Note: Produced and arranged by Joe Brooks.
** Note: Produced by Mike Curb and arranged by Al Capps.

Chart performance (Debby Boone single)

LeAnn Rimes version

"You Light Up My Life"
Single by LeAnn Rimes
from the album You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs
B-side"I Believe"
ReleasedAugust 26, 1997
Songwriter(s)Joe Brooks[1]
Producer(s)Mike Curb
Chuck Howard
Wilbur C. Rimes
LeAnn Rimes singles chronology
"How Do I Live"
"You Light Up My Life"
"On the Side of Angels"
Music video
"You Light Up My Life" by LeAnn Rimes on YouTube

LeAnn Rimes released her own version of "You Light Up My Life" as a single in 1997, 20 years after Boone's version was released, and on the same record label, the Warner Bros. Records label's Curb Records label. Her version fared modestly by comparison to the original at radio (No. 48 Country). However, her single was certified gold and was the title track to her No. 1 pop and country album, You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs.

Track listing

  1. "You Light Up My Life"* – 3:37
  2. "I Believe"** – 2:22

* Note: Produced by Wilbur C. Rimes, Chuck Howard and Mike Curb.[24]
** Note: Produced by Wilbur C. Rimes.[24]

Chart performance (LeAnn Rimes single)

Chart (1997-1998) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[25] 57
US Billboard Hot 100[26] 34
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[27] 48
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[28] 35
US Rhythmic Airplay (Billboard)[29] 71
US Top Country Singles Sales (Billboard)[30]

Other versions

Many artists have covered "You Light Up My Life" since 1977.

In other media

The song features as a running joke in an episode of Girlfriends, titled "Can't Stan Ya!"

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 136. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ a b "Top 100 Singles Chart for 1/7/1978" (PDF). Record World. 35 #1591: 29. January 7, 1978.
  3. ^ a b c d Kvitka’s Biography by Ed Rakowicz, 2013 Accessed Jan 14, 2014.
  4. ^ Rakowicz's biography consistently spells the Americanized version of his wife's name as "Kacey" rather than "Kasey."
  5. ^ a b Brown, Scott (21 February 2003). "The Light Stuff". Entertainment Weekly. pp. 76–78.
  6. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum. SpinMedia. May 31, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c "The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs (10-01)". Billboard. July 2008. Archived from the original on 1 October 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  8. ^ "CashBox Singles Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. August 27, 1977. p. 30. Retrieved 2021-12-26.
  9. ^ "Readers' Poll: The 10 Worst Songs of the 1970s: 4 – Debby Boone – 'You Light Up My Life'". Rolling Stone. New York City. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-06-24. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  10. ^ Bronson, Fred (1 October 2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th ed.). New York: Billboard Books. p. 939. ISBN 978-0823076772.
  11. ^ Bronson, p. 550.
  12. ^ Bronson, pp. 938-939.
  13. ^ "Records & Radio" (PDF). Worldradiohistory.com. 1977-11-25. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  14. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 136. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  15. ^ Bronson, Fred (2 August 2013). "Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  16. ^ "Debby Boone Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  17. ^ "Kent Music Report No 236 – 1 January 1979 > National Top 100 Singles for 1978". Kent Music Report. Retrieved 8 January 2022 – via Imgur.com.
  18. ^ "Top 100 Músicas Mais Tocadas em 1977" [Top 100 Most Played Songs of 1977]. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  20. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1978". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  21. ^ "Top 50 Adult Contemporary Hits of 1978 - 45cat". 45cat.com. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Hot 100 turns 60". Billboard. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  23. ^ "You Light Up My Life / I Believe: Leann Rimes: Music". Amazon. Retrieved 2011-10-09.
  24. ^ a b You Light Up My Life / I Believe (CD single). LeAnn Rimes. Curb Records. 1997. D2-73027.((cite AV media notes)): CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  25. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 3346." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. October 6, 1997. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  26. ^ "LeAnn Rimes Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  27. ^ "LeAnn Rimes Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  28. ^ "Monitor Top 40/Adult Airplay" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  29. ^ "Monitor Top 40/Rhythm-Crossover Airplay" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  30. ^ "Billboard Top Country Singles Sales" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  31. ^ "Cover versions of You Light Up My Life by Debby Boone". SecondHandSongs.com. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  32. ^ "Video of the Day: Patti Smith Sings "You Light Up My Life" to Kids". Retrieved 24 February 2014.