That’s funny – while I lamented a whole bunch about having to write about a bunch of men all throughout January, these first three days of February in the Random Single challenge have given me nothing but ladies. It’s not a complaint at all – just a funny little happenstance! Anyway, this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered Jennifer Warnes – I wrote very briefly about her hit single “Right Time of Night” in my overview of the top 100 songs of 1977. I gave it a relisten for the first time since I wrote that post and, yeah, my feelings about it haven’t changed – it’s pleasant enough, but does do much more than fill up space in the music block. But yeah, Jennifer Warnes is a good enough singer as it is, given her backing in country and folk music. One thing that makes her even more interesting, though, is finding out that she was a lifelong friend of Leonard Cohen’s, frequently collaborating with him as a background performer throughout his career in the 70s and 80s. Any facet of a person that even mildly connects them with Leonard Cohen is always a positive attribute in my eyes, and that one fact alone just makes her all the more intriguing.
But what about the song?? Well, “Come to Me” was actually introduced as a new single from her Best of album, which I just find so unusual. For one thing, I don’t even see how Warnes could’ve had much of a career at that point to warrant a Best of album. “Right Time of the Night” was her most successful single at that point, but it was also one of the only ones to break the top 40 in the Hot 100. She was far more successful on the Adult Contemporary charts, so I suppose that this was her intended audience for the record in the first place. There’s always this nagging feeling with “new” singles on Best of that they are only there to persuade completists of the artist’s work, who may already have all their albums, to spend some of their hard-earned cash on a brand-spanking new record. Thus, there’s certainly the sense with “Come to Me” that is was composed in just a short amount of time, recorded and edited quickly in order to slap it on the album in as little time as possible.
Basically, this is Jennifer Warnes’ attempt at jumping on the “I’ll Be There” bandwagon – crafting an inspirational anthem with a pick-me-up message to a friend, or in this case a wannabe lover. She sees the subject wasting their time on short-term lovers that “fade into the distance” and suggests that maybe the person they’ve been looking for has been here the whole time. The production is risky in its lack of taking any risks – it risks being utterly forgotten about among the fold of a million other soft-pop songs, and especially among Warnes’ other material on her album as well. The melody in the verses is actually quite pretty, but when it shifts slightly in the chorus, it sounds like it could have come from any other AC love song out there. The guitar solo definitely sounds phoned-in, as does the majority of the instrumental backing, for that matter. Altogether, it doesn’t necessarily paint a very good portrait of what makes her best songs worth giving a listen – it’s often boring and utterly plain. But I guess 1982 was to be the least of Warnes’ worries, as the single following this one was her chart-topping ballad duet with Joe Cocker, “Up Where We Belong”, helped by its usage in the supremely popular An Officer and a Gentleman. Looks like things worked out well for Jennifer Warnes after all!