“You’re Moving Out Today” — Carole Bayer Sager

Photo by Zachary Kadolph on Unsplash

If you know the name Carole Bayer Sager at all, it’s likely to be from her quirky 1977 hit “You’re Moving Out Today”. This song pops up occasionally in those “one-hit wonder” listings you see online or in the newspapers.

However Carole Bayer Sager is far from a one-hit wonder. She’s been in the upper reaches of the pop charts plenty of times, although mostly with a writing credit for a song she’s written for someone else. “You’re Moving Out Today” was her only significant chart appearance as a performer.

The music business was different back in the 1970s…along with most other things about the world, it has to be said…so if you’re a little confused about Carole Bayer Sager’s name being mentioned in the context of “You’re Moving Out Today”, it’s probably because you live in North America, where Bette Midler had the hit.

In the rest of the world, though, Carole Bayer Sager had the hit, reaching Number Six in the UK and Number One in Australia. In the 21st century, with global music streaming sites, that’s almost unthinkable. But it was much more common in a world before the internet as it was a lot harder for any artist to keep a career going on several different continents at the same time when the only way of doing so was to physically go each territory in turn.

In fairness, The Divine Miss M also co-wrote “You’re Moving Out Today”, along with Carole Bayer Sager and Bruce Roberts, so let’s not begrudge Bette Midler a Billboard Hot 100 record on the back of it.

Carole Bayer Sager was predominantly a lyricist and she started young. While still at college, she wrote “A Groovy Kind Of Love”…a 1966 UK and US Number Two hit for The Mindbenders.

She also won the 1981 Best Original Song Oscar for “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” — a Billboard Number One and a major global hit for Christopher Cross — for the Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli movie “Arthur”.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Carole Bayer Sager’s name was never far from the upper reaches of the pop charts. Her lyrics adorn more hit songs than you can shake a stick at.

But for all her significant achievements in the world of music, “You’re Moving Out Today” is one of my ‘guilty pleasure’ songs. It’s delightfully quirky, which I always like, and delivered with a big dose of humour (another tick)…some of which I suspect was at Bette Midler’s behest as she always seemed good at egging other people on.

“You’re Moving Out Today” is a song about a guy who significantly overstayed his welcome…until the woman whose apartment he’s been camping out in for months has had enough…

I stayed out late one night and you moved in
I didn’t mind because of the state you were in
May I remind you that it’s been a year since then

It’s one thing to let someone have a bed for the night…but to still be there 365 nights later can only be considered taking advantage of someone’s good nature.

Over that year, Carole Bayer Sager’s unwelcome houseguest has really made himself at home, judging by the amount of stuff he seems to have accumulated…

So pack your toys away
Your pretty boys away
Your 45’s away
Your alibis away
Your Spanish flies away
Your one-more-tries away
Your old tie-dies away
You’re moving out today

But she’s had enough. It’s not just that her houseguest has to go…every last trace of him ever having lived there needs to go too. The memories of those last 12 months would be far too traumatic if she were to come across a possession or an item of clothing that reminder her of that ne’er-do-well at some point in the future. It’s all got to go…

Pack up your rubber duck
I’d like to wish you luck
Your funny cigarettes
Your sixty-one cassettes
Pack all your clothes away
Your rubber hose away
Your old day-glo’s away
You’re moving out today

Judging by the list of things he’s brought into the house and some of his personal habits…“Your nasty habits ain’t confined to bed” rather boggles the mind…I think we can all agree Carole Bayer Sager dodged a bullet there.

This seems like the sort of person who, if he wasn’t made to move out today, would happily camp out in her apartment until the end of time.

That said, we don’t get the impression he’s putting up much of a fight. Maybe he knew his time was up ages ago, but can’t quite believe he’s been indulged for months longer than he ever expected. Maybe he’s just a drifter who will find somewhere to crash for a few days before rolling out the same trick again on another unsuspecting companion.

Either way, this is the sort of experience that Carole Bayer Sager’s girlfriends would be commiserating with her about over a glass of wine once the apartment had been thoroughly fumigated and redecorated…“I always said he wasn’t good enough for you…”

If all you knew about Carole Bayer Sager was the wonderfully quirky “You’re Moving Out Today” you’d have a delightful musical treat that would make you smile every time you thought about it.

But if learning that she also wrote a string of great songs, from the 1960s onwards, for artists like Carole King, Carly Simon, Michael Jackson, Melissa Manchester and Rita Coolidge comes as news to you, then you could do a lot worse than check out Carole Bayer Sager’s back catalogue. It’s packed full of gems.

For now, though, here is the one and only time Carole Bayer Sager had a major chart hit as a performer, rather than a songwriter, with “You’re Moving Out Today”…

(And, in case you’re reading this in the US, keep scrolling for Bette Midler’s version of the same song to spark your own memories. Bette Midler’s version includes a spoken verse at the end which didn’t feature on Carole Bayer Sager’s international hit version…)

Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.

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