Once Upon a Time at the Top of the Charts: Roberta Flack, “Feel Like Makin’ Love”
42 years ago today, Roberta Flack found herself atop the Billboard Hot 100 for the third time in her career, this time with a composition by Eugene McDaniels.
Released a full nine months before the album sharing its title hit record store shelves, “Feel Like Makin’ Love” was actually produced by Flack herself, albeit under a pseudonym (Rubina Flake), but in an interview with JazzWax, she was quick to credit the song’s musicians as a significant reason for its tremendous success.
“When Gene [McDaniels] first called and sang his song to me, he just strummed it,” said Flack. “I basically had that feeling in my mind when I went into the studio, [and] I wanted it to move along without too much of a sentimental feeling. I felt it said what it had to say. I sang it down one time, and Gene said, ‘Whoa, that was really great. Now can you do it once more, making some of the phrases more rubato?’ I said, ‘Nooooooo, I love that.’ We played it back, and [drummer] Ralph McDonald said, ‘I think that’s it.’ Everyone agreed. I did that song in one take.”
As for the soft dance beat of the song, you can thank McDonald for that, too. “I just had to sit down and sing,” Flack told JazzWax. “Once they captured my voice, Dave [Grusin] and Ralph and others sat down and added their tracks. Ralph put that beat in there.”
Grusin, as you may know, contributed piano, and the bass work on the song came courtesy of Gary King, but for Flack’s humility, her voice is what ultimately sells “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” and it’s what took the track to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the Soul Singles chart and the Adult Contemporary chart.