Billy Steinberg, Celine Dion, hit song, I Drove All Night, Roy Orbison, song arrangement, songwriter, songwriting

I Drove All Night – Same Song, 3 Visions

A song becomes immortal when several performers can cover it and make it a hit. However, it is quite rare for this to happen 3 times in less than 20 years. This is exactly what happened with “I drove All Night”. The song was written by Billy Steinberg, songwriter of such hits as Pat Benatar’s “Fire and Ice”, Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”. Originally written for Roy Orbison, it became a global hit for Cyndi Lauper and Celine Dion.

What makes this song extra-special is that:

  • 1) It’s gender neutral – The lyrics could apply equally for a man or a woman. These are the most universal of all songs, and therefore the most precious.
  • 2) It requires an enormous range – The climb in the pre-chorus and the outro was specially-designed for Roy Orbison’s three octave range. Therefore, only a world-class vocal talent can approach this song and give it justice.

Now, let’s compare each version and spot the differences…

Original Roy Orbison’s version.

The arrangement is very guitar-oriented. Like Orbison’s other work, it was designed to be as a country-tinted pop song. My favorite of all three.

Cyndi Lauper’s version

Synthesizer-based arrangement. Lauper added her patented “She bop” styled vocals, complete with hiccups. It has it’s moment. She does the outro perfectly. Just lovely.

Celine Dion’s Version

That’s probably the version most people will remember. Personally, I would have gone for an orchestral arrangement for Celine instead of that dance trackas they don’t age very well. Then again Celine originally did it for a car commercial, so she was probably not thinking about longevity. Quite good anyway.


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