Young Hearts Run Free: Candi Staton's Biggest Hits

Candi Staton
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Michael Ochs Archives

Today - March 13 - we celebrate disco diva Candi Staton's 80th birthday with a compilation of her classic hits. What's your favorite feel-good Staton track? 

1. "Victim"

This Candi classic "Victim"  was a smash club hit, reached the top echelon of the Billboard Dance Airplay chart in 1978 at the peak of No. 3. Reinventing herself as a disco princess during the early Seventies, Staton quickly earned the title as a disco hit maker through the iconic New York clubs throughout the late Seventies.

2. "His Hands" 

Written by Will Oldham, the title track from her 2006 album His Hands was particularly poignant and personal. Opening with a 6/8 ballad beat, Staton sings about the hardships of an abusive relationship. She introduces the song during a performance by sharing intimate insight into her life: "If you've heard any of the stories of my life, I've had a lot of abusive relationships. See ladies, I know what it's like to get up off the floor. I know what it's like to feel your face to make sure it's not broken. I've been kicked in my side and dragged by my hair. Abuse is nothing to laugh about. There comes a time in your life when you need to get up off the floor. It's time to rise above that." 

3. "I Ain't Easy To Love"

Featuring the soulful guest vocals of Jason Isbell and John Paul White of the Civil Wars, "I Ain't Easy to Love" was released in Staton’s album Life Happens, the last record produced by Rick Hall before he passed away in January 2018. During her 2013 appearance on Letterman, she recalled, "It was a lot of fun singing that with them. I sort of joked about how I wish they could sing with me on the record, and I think they both immediately said they would be happy to sing it with me."

4. "Stand By Your Man"

Staton's version of "Stand By Your Man" gave her a hit in 1970, hot on the heels of Tammy Wynette's hit version of the song in 1968.  The country-soul song fuses country comforts with nuances of southern soul that are brought to life with the addition of string sections in the Muscle Shoals sound.

5. "I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart"

This 1969 classic soul hit showcased Staton's sense of humor was just as strong as her funk-driven vocals. The lyrics playfully toys with the advantages of dating a senior, as she sings "The man I've got, the fire's almost gone. He can't heat up nobody's house. He's got just enough to keep me warm." 

6. "In The Ghetto" 

The First Lady of Southern Soul's 1972 hit cover of this Elvis Presley tune dove deep into a well of melancholy with glorious, husky vocal strength. One of her numerous R&B hit, "In The Ghetto" was waxed at Rick Hall's prestigious FAME studios in the early 1970's with one of popular music's most skilled rhythm sections, depicted in detail in the documentary Muscle Shoals. Rumor has it Staton's cover "In the Ghetto" even wrought fan mail from Elvis himself.

7. "He Called Me Baby"

A top ten R&B hit for Staton in 1971, her cover of Patsy Cline's "He Called Me Baby" peaked at No. 9, perhaps a testament to her ability to channel the heart-wrenching emotions of deep love-gone-bad.

8. "You Got the Love"

Penned by the songwriting team the Source, the disco-pop track became a favorite of UK house DJs, especially Staton tinged the tune with her slow-burning vocals. The a cappella version of her cover, released through Surface Records, came to life throughout the London house scene, immortalizing Staton as a leading female singer of the disco era. 

9. "When You Wake Up Tomorrow"

Peaking at No. 13 in August of '79 on Billboard's R&B chart, this funky, synth single reigned for 18 weeks atop the charts. 

10. "Young Hearts Run Free"

Written for Staton by David Crawford in the mid 1970's, the rave queen channels her own experience of an abusive relationship into a desperate anthem of escape and triumph. 

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