How I wrote Whitney Houston’s ‘Run To You’ by Jud Friedman & Allan Rich
How one of the lucky few original songs to appear on ‘The Bodyguard’ soundtrack was inspired by a real break-up
In the late 80s, Whitney Houston rose to international prominence as an exceptional vocal talent and was already on her way to becoming one of the best-selling music artists of all-time. But by 1992, the soul diva from New Jersey made her screen acting debut starring alongside Kevin Costner in the romantic thriller, The Bodyguard, and took her career to dizzying new heights. The film’s Original Soundtrack Album won numerous awards, topped charts the world over and broke records – it remains the best-selling soundtrack album of all time, selling over 42 million copies worldwide.
The LP spawned a number of massive hit singles, including the cover of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You, but the fourth single would be the original song, Run To You. Despite only achieving relatively moderate chart success, it became one of Houston’s most recognised songs, and was nominated for a 1993 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The songwriting duo of Jud Friedman and Allan Rich had previously scored a No 1 with I Don’t Have The Heart for James Ingram, but that didn’t mean the pair were a shoo-in for The Bodyguard soundtrack. As we discover, it was a miracle Run To You got selected at all…
Jud: “In those days I worked in a studio at Peer Music in the Hollywood Hills – Allan lived close by – and virtually every day of the week we would show up and work all day long. Everyone had heard that Whitney Houston was doing her first movie, which was going to be a huge deal, but we were hearing conflicting reports about how much music was going to be in it. By the time we got involved, all the songwriters in the world had been receiving breakdowns saying they needed four songs. They didn’t know, but it turned out that virtually all of those would be ‘inside’ songs, mainly covers. There ended up being just one ‘outside’ song written by songwriters who had nothing to do with the project, directly. When we got a breakdown from our publishers we thought, ‘Well, this is worth a shot. It’s going to get killed by the critics, but it’s going to be huge.’”
Allan: “I had a verse and a chorus, and gave it to Jud, who wrote the most beautiful music and helped me with the lyric. I did write it specifically for Whitney, but it coincided with a 10-year break-up in my life. Jud and I like to move and touch people, that’s the goal for our songs, and I’m an emotional person. So it was a happy coincidence, if you want to call it that, that they were looking for a Whitney song when I was raw – it worked very well.”
J: “Allan put in this lyric idea and then I sat down and started playing stuff, singing and showing him ideas. We actually wrote two pieces of music and then went home; I wasn’t sure if either one of them was any good. Then we came back the next day and thought one of them – the version that ended up sending to Whitney – was like, ‘Holy shit, this is actually really good.’ The lyric happened pretty quickly, probably a day or two, then we recorded a bare-bones version. I played it as we were writing it, and I liked the feel so much that I kept the out-of-time version and layered stuff on top – we did at as piano, vocal and some strings…”
Interview: Aaron Slater