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Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) [Sony] * by Looking Glass (New Jersey)
Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” is a 1972 song written and composed by Elliot Lurie and recorded by Lurie’s band, Looking Glass, on their debut album Looking Glass. The single reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 charts, remaining in the top position for one week. It reached number two on the former chart for four weeks, stuck behind Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally)”, before reaching number one, only for “Brandy” to be dethroned by “Alone Again (Naturally)” the week after . Billboard ranked it as the 12th song of 1972. Horns and strings were arranged by Larry Fallon.
The lyrics tell of Brandy, a barmaid in a busy western seaport harbor town which serves “a hundred ships a day.” Though lonely sailors flirt with her, she pines for one who’s long since left her.
The urban myth that Brandy was based on Mary Ellis (1750–1828), a spinster in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has been refuted by Lurie himself.
Lurie also refutes the suggestion that the song was written by songwriter Stephen Homner, and eventually sold to Elliot Lurie after Lurie expressed interest in the song.
In February 1972, Robert Mandel was the Epic Records Promotion Manager in Washington, D.C. He received a test pressing of an album by a new group named “Looking Glass”. He took the test pressing around to every radio station in the Washington/Baltimore region. At the time, WPGC AM/FM was one of the leading Top 40 stations in the country and was the number one radio station in DC. Harv Moore was the Program Director. He put the song into a one-hour rotation for two days and as Harv related at the time, “the switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree”. He said that he had never received a response like that on a record in his 15 years in radio. Based on the airplay at WPGC and all the other Top 40 stations that followed, Epic rush-released the single of “Brandy”. Based on requests alone, two weeks later, when the single finally hit the stores, “Brandy” was the number one record in DC without a single copy yet sold. Other stations around the country started playing it and it ended up being a number one million seller. A year later when Harv celebrated his 10th Anniversary at WPGC, Looking Glass returned the favor and played at the bash the station held in his honor.
Barry Manilow’s 1974 “Mandy” was a cover of a song originally titled “Brandy”, released in February 1972 by Scott English; however, Manilow changed the title following the success of the Looking Glass single, so as not to get the two songs confused. This song is not related to the song by Looking Glass.
This song was used in the films Lords of Dogtown, Say Anything…, Charlie’s Angels, A Very Brady Sequel, and Lymelife. It was also used in an episode of the 2009 television show Harper’s Island, and it can be heard in the background in a scene set in the longshoremen’s bar in Season 2 of The Wire. A Beautiful Music instrumental version can be heard in the background when Chris Knight is touring his potential future employer in the film Real Genius.
In The Simpsons episode “Principal Charming”, Selma sings the song (using a slower, mournful tempo and tone) to Lisa as she is putting her to bed. In TV series companion book “The Simpsons Uncensored Family Album” Marge wrote that her paternal grandmother once told her that the song “Brandy” was based on Marge’s paternal grandfather’s life.
Doug Heffernan (Kevin James) sings this song at karaoke in an episode of The King of Queens.
The song appears in the computer game “Tropico 2”, which takes place in a user-created seaside pirate town. One of the citizens’ thoughts is “Brandy, you’re a good girl. You’ll do fine!”
On the album Silver City by Sarah Borges, the song “Same Old 45” retells the story of Brandy from her point of view.
Fantasy author Alex Bledsoe used Brandy’s name and the song’s story for his novel Wake of the Bloody Angel.
Paul Stanley of the rock band KISS wrote that Brandy helped inspire the band’s hit Hard Luck Woman in his 2014 memoir Face the Music: A Life Exposed.
The song was ranked number 13 out of the top 76 songs of the 1970s by internet radio station WDDF Radio in their 2016 countdown.
The song is included on the soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It appears in the opening scene and again in a scene on Ego the Living Planet. Ego considers the song to be a metaphor for his time on earth with Peter Quill’s mother and “one of Earth’s greatest musical compositions, perhaps the greatest.”