F is for Feel Like Makin’ Love

‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’ was composed by singer-songwriter Eugene McDaniels, and recorded originally by soul singer-songwriter Roberta Flack.  The song is exactly what it says it is, a universal ode to irresistible carnal impulses.  There’s no metaphor or allusion in McDaniels’ lyrics, it’s a sex song that never even attempts to present itself as anything else.  Musically, it’s soothing to the point of being sleepy with everything pleasantly melting into everything else for this soft dance beat.  The instruments all quietly murmur throughout, the subtly bluesy guitars, the pitter-pat bongos, along with the dazed electric-piano spread throughout the song.  There’s very little anticipation or excitement in the song, because Roberta wanted it to move along without too much of a sentimental feeling.  This song leaves the listener with an afterglow, a happy recollection of whatever just happened in this sex song that treats sex as no big deal.  Sadly, this would be Roberta’s last #1 song.

Released nine months before her fifth solo album of the same title, the song became one of the greatest musical successes of 1974, as well doing a lot for Roberta Flack’s recording career, receiving millions of airplays and earning her a Gold Record.  It scored a week at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, making it Flack’s third #1 single, and making her the first female vocalist since 1940 to top the chart in three consecutive years.  ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ went to #1 for her in 1972 and ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’ reached #1 for Roberta in 1973.  Flack produced Feel Like Makin’ Love’ under the pseudonym Rubina Flake an alter ego she chose to help her feel glamorous and capable when others told her she was imperfect and this allowed her to endure the indignities faced by gifted black children in the South.  ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’ stayed at #1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart for five weeks, and it spent two weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts in both Canada and the U.S.   It went on to receive three Grammy nominations for Flack, those being Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.  Roberta Flack and U2 are the only artists to win the Grammy Record of the Year award in consecutive years and Flack was the only solo artist to ever do this.

In many ways Roberta’s voice was Gene’s muse for some of his early writing, as he was writing ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’, which took him just 45 minutes, and he said that he knew it was for Roberta and that it would be a hit.  Gene adored Roberta, they had a long history and friendship and he considered her to be family.  In addition to ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’, Roberta Flack recorded ten other songs written by Gene.  Roberta Flack shot to stardom after Clint Eastwood chose one of her songs to feature in Play Misty For Me, a movie he shot in 1972.  The song ‘The First Time I Saw Your Face’ provided her with instant exposure to a global audience.  After working day jobs and struggling, she’d become a star in her mid-30s, thanks to a fluke appearance on the soundtrack of a Clint Eastwood directorial debut movie, a thriller about a female stalker that served as a kind of precursor to Fatal Attraction, which has been preserved in the Library of Congress.

During the sessions for her Feel Like Makin Love album, Flack’s regular producer, Joel Dorn, abruptly walked out, thanks to some kind of disagreement with the bosses at Atlantic Records.  Another producer didn’t work out, so Flack produced the album herself, using her pseudonym Rubina Flake.  She didn’t know what she was doing yet, or at least she didn’t think she knew, and she spent a ton of time and money figuring out the sound she wanted.  The album, like most of the other albums from Flack’s early career, was a quiet triumph, full of these gorgeous excursions that drew as much from folk and jazz as they did from the soul music of the moment.  As a producer, Flack dedicated the album to Quincy Jones and several top session musicians played on this including Bob James (keyboards), Idris Muhammad and Alphonse Mouzon (drums), and Joe Farrell (oboe).

Only five year-end #1 tunes have won both song and record of the year, including Adele’s ‘Rolling In the Deep’ in 2012, Kim Carnes’ ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ in 1982, Roberta Flack’s ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ in 1973, Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ in 1971, and Domenico Modugno’s ‘Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)’ in 1959.  Flack was born in Black Mountain, North Carolina which is near Asheville and she was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009, but she has never been considered for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Roberta Flack suffered a stroke in 2016 which prevents her from singing in public, but she remains active and creative.  Roberta Flack was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards in 2020.

Strollin’ in the park, watching winter turn to spring
Walkin’ in the dark, seein’ lovers do their thing, ooh

That’s the time I feel like making love to you
That’s the time I feel like making dreams come true, oh baby

When you talk to me, when you’re moanin’ sweet and low
When you’re touchin’ me and my feelings start to show, ooh

That’s the time I feel like making love to you
That’s the time I feel like making dreams come true, oh baby

In a restaurant, holdin’ hands by candlelight
While I’m touchin’ you, wanting you with all my might, ooh

That’s the time I feel like making love to you
That’s the time I feel like making dreams come true, oh baby

Strollin’ in the park, watching winter turn to spring
Walkin’ in the dark, seein’ lovers do their thing, ooh

That’s the time I feel like making love to you
That’s the time I feel like making dreams come true, oh baby

8 thoughts on “F is for Feel Like Makin’ Love

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