Dear Mr. Gable/You Made Me Love You
Sung by a 14-year-old Judy Garland to a photo of Clark Gable in the film Broadway Melody of 1938, the tune “really touched” Hollywood’s reigning movie idol, says Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft. But when studio head Louis B. Mayer sent Garland and Gable out on promotional appearances for the film, Gable discovered with dismay that the gift just kept on giving. “He had to keep pretending that he’d never heard the song,” Luft says. “Can you imagine the twelfth time? According to my mom, he once came offstage and said, ‘If you sing that song again, I’ll strangle you!’ She burst out laughing.”
“Dear Mr. Gable, I am writing this to you, and I hope that you will read it so you’ll know. My heart beats like a hammer, and I stutter and I stammer every time I see you at the picture show.”
—Written by Roger Edens
The X-Files‘ David Duchovny “is totally hot, has broad shoulders and is incredibly smart,” says pop singer Bree Sharp. So Sharp, 23, turned her “big, stupid crush” into a humorously heartfelt homage on her 1999 debut album, A Cheap and Evil Girl. Even before the single hit airwaves in June, X-Files staffers created a video for the song, featuring lip-synching by celebs like Brad Pitt and Jenna Elfman, as a gag gift for Duchovny. At the time, the actor told PEOPLE he found the effort “funny and sweet.” But Sharp is still waiting to hear from the enigmatic Agent Mulder. “Not a letter or a phone call—nothing,” she laments. “What does a girl have to do?”
“I can’t wait anymore for him to discover me. I got it bad for David Duchovny.
David Duchovny, why won’t you love me?”
—Written by Bree Sharp
I Feel Lucky
Mary Chapin Carpenter’s 1992 Grammy-winning fantasy about country stars Lyle Lovett (left) and Dwight Yoakam (above) came as no surprise to Susan Gomez, the editor of Yoakam’s fan newsletter. “Women looove the way he moves,” she says. And a certain Pretty Woman seemed to confirm Lovett’s appeal when she married him—albeit briefly—in 1993. Carpenter, 41, soon worked the union into live performances of the song. “Julia Roberts right behind me sayin’, ‘Girl, don’t even try!’ ” Carpenter sang, with the hopeful coda, “That’s all right, I’ve still got Dwight.”
“Dwight Yoakam’s in the corner tryin’to catch my eye.
Lyle Lovett’s right beside me with his hand upon my thigh….Hey Dwight, hey Lyle, boys, you don’t have-to fight. Hot dog, I feel lucky tonight.”
—Written by Mary Chapin Carpenter and Don Schlitz
That Don’t Impress Me Much
Okay, Shania Twain, so you got a choice: Who would really win your heart: the rocket scientist also mentioned in your flirty 1999 Top 10 single or Fight Club star Brad Pitt? “I’d be a fool not to say Brad Pitt,” the mightily impressed Twain, 34, told Copley News Service in May. “My husband [music producer Mutt Lange] knows I think Brad is gorgeous, so he wouldn’t be surprised.”
“Okay, so you’re Brad Pitt. That don’t impress me much. So you got the looks, but have you got the touch?”
—Written by Shania Twain and Robert John “Mutt” Lange
“Women go nuts for Bogie,” says William Bolcom, 61, who has been playing this song again and again alongside wife Joan Morris, 56, since recording Leiber and Stoller’s obscure ditty for a 1978 album. But Bolcom, a University of Michigan music professor, doesn’t see the appeal of Bogart, who died in 1957. “He wasn’t pretty, his teeth seemed bad, and he probably drank too much,” he says. Morris, however, who teaches musical theater at Michigan, definitely does. “God, the way he laughed knocked me out,” she says. “I thought the guy was cool beyond words.”
“Humphrey Bogart, I go bananas each time you come into view.”
—Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Sassy rap trio Salt-N-Pepa’s recipe for the perfect male: “A voice, a body and a face,” explains Salt (Cheryl James), and only Barry White (below), Arnold Schwarzenegger and Denzel Washington, respectively, would do. “Barry has the smoothest voice in the universe,” James says, while Arnold’s physique “is just yummy to look at.” As for Washington, James, 33, and bandmates Pepa (Sandra Denton, 35) and Spinderella (Deidra Roper, 29) decided to name him in their 1994 hit single because “he’s strong, a man’s man and a family man,” says James. “Every woman is in love with Denzel.”
“My man is smooth like Barry, and his voice got bass, a body like Arnold with a Denzel face.”
—Written by David B.Crawford, Herby E. Azor and Cheryl James
My Boy Elvis
Before 16-year-old Janis Martin recorded this tribute to Elvis Presley in 1956, she thought he was nothing but a hound dog. When the young rockabilly singer first went backstage to meet her RCA labelmate at a Danville, Va., concert a month earlier, “he said he didn’t have time to talk to me,” recalls Martin, now 59 and a Danville golf-club manager. “I thought, ‘If you don’t have the time for me, the heck with you.’ ” (To be fair, he did patch things up with two dozen roses not long after.) Later, Martin, whom RCA management tagged “the female Elvis” for her rollicking stage shows, did get an audience with the King—after which she was happy to sing his praises. “I thought he was gorgeous,” she says. “In person he was unbelievable.”
“All the teeners stomp and shout when they open the curtain, and he walks out.
I know the one he’s dreamin’ of ’cause I got his photograph signed ‘With love.’ ”
—Written by Virginia Fitting and Aaron H. Schroeder
If U Can’t Dance
Poor Spice Girls. Even their collective girl power isn’t enough to overcome the problem of being hit on by creepy club crawlers. Why, they asked on their 1997 U.S. debut album, can’t they do the bump with more sexy men like The Matrix‘s Keanu Reeves? “When you go to the disco, it’s always the wrong people looking at you,” says Mel C (for Chisholm), 25, a.k.a. Sporty Spice. “It’s never someone like Keanu.” Reeves, who plays bass in his own band Dogstar, never made contact after the tune became a dance floor anthem. But that hasn’t changed his standing in the mind of Mel C. “Keanu Reeves,” she says, “is a fox.”
“Whenever I go out, wherever it may be, never is there a Keanu, but a dweeb lookin’ at me.”
—Written by Spice Girls/Stannard/Rowe/Collins/Clinton/Morrison/Jacobs
My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder
The Eddie Vedder of the early ’90s was “the poster boy for angst-ridden guys,” says accordion-wielding parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic, 40, who skewered the antipress, MTV-leery Pearl Jam lead singer with this playful tribute earlier this year. “It’s a lot of the same mystique James Dean had. He’s in pain all the time and he’s miserable, but that’s exactly what makes him so appealing.” Still, Yankovic admits Vedder isn’t as gloomy as he used to be. “I met Eddie a couple of years ago at a concert,” Weird Al says. “He’s much more mellow now.”
“My baby, she don’t want me no more, ever since she saw his poster in that record store. She says the way he grinds his molars is really sexy. She thinks he’s so darn dysfunctional and generation X-y.”
—Written by Al Yankovic
Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?
In her plaintive 1997 hit, pop singer Paula Cole, 31, held up screen legend John Wayne as a paragon of virtue. “John would have been proud,” says the actor’s widow, Pilar Wayne Upchurch, 63. “It’s a very sentimental song, and he was very sentimental.” Indeed, Upchurch, who was married to the Duke for 25 years before his death in 1979, believes Cole or any woman would be lucky to have a man like Wayne home on the range. “He was a great family man and a great father,” she says. “A kind and gentle human being.”
“Where is my John Wayne?
Where is my prairie son?
Where is my happy ending?
Where have all the cowboys gone?”
—Written by Paula Cole
Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me)
“The point of the song is that my girlfriend likes me for the knucklehead that I am,” says Blessid Union of Souls singer Eliot Sloan. But the 1999 tune also tweaks the band’s newfound celebrity. “Girls are always asking me if I’ve met Leonardo DiCaprio [above left],” says Sloan, 33 (who hasn’t). “So we threw his name in there.” Model Tyson Beckford (above center) made the cut after an old girlfriend “told me that if he ever walked into a room, she’d probably leave me,” says Sloan. “I said, ‘The heck with that, I’m gonna leave you now.’ ” The band included Redford (above) simply because “he’s the ultimate handsome, debonair guy. He’s in his early 60s and he’s still got 20-year-olds drooling over him.” So did Leo like the tune? “I heard he had applied to have his name trademarked, maybe so people can’t use it in a song anymore,” Sloan reports with a laugh. “That pretty much told me how he felt.”
“She likes me for me. Not because I look like Tyson Beckford, with the charm of Robert Redford oozing out my ears…. Not because I hang with Leonardo…”
—Written by Eliot Sloan, Jeff Pence and Emosia
When Smokey Sings
In classics such as the 1970 hit “The Tears of a Clown,” Smokey Robinson “always married real poetry with pop music,” says singer Martin Fry, 41, leader of the British band ABC. “His voice is like honey, and it has soul and fragility. It can transport you somewhere else.” In 1987, while the tribute was climbing the European charts, that place was The Netherlands, where ABC and Robinson unexpectedly shared the bill on a TV music program. By their next meeting a few months later, “we were show business pals!” says Fry. “He’s a complete gentleman and very down-to-earth. I really admired that.” As for Robinson, “I was glad I was able to tell them face-to-face how flattered I was,” says the ever-gracious singer, who sent Fry a letter when the song hit No. 5 in the U.S. “I don’t frame much,” Fry says, “but that was worth framing.”
“When Smokey sings, I hear violins. When Smokey sings, I forget everything.”
—Written by Martin Fry and Mark White