Monday, January 28, 2013

Today's Forgotten Hit: ARIEL by DEAN FRIEDMAN

Here's another installment from our FH Buddy Carl Wiser's Songfacts page ... which ties in perfectly with our "Today's Forgotten Hit" feature ... especially since I always enjoyed the 1977 Hit "Ariel" by Dean Friedman ... in my mind, this made for the PERFECT excuse to combine these two features and share this with you today!   

Dean has participated with Forgotten Hits a few times in the past ... and is still out there writing songs and doing shows.    

You can find out all the latest on his official website:    
Click here: Dean Friedman's Official Music Web Site  

"Ariel" is one of those songs that deserved better than its chart position of #26, but considering it is was a quirky pop song in an era of rock and disco, perhaps it overachieved.  

First, some geography: the song takes place in Paramus, New Jersey, which is on the west side of the Hudson River - the suburbia side. Across the river is the Bronx, which is far more gritty. Dean Friedman was living in the Bronx when he wrote it, but he grew up in Paramus and many of his friends and family were still living there.   

When Dean spoke with our writer Bruce Pollock for his They're Playing My Song feature  (, Dean said that Ariel was "an amalgamation of all these cute teenage girls in peasant blouses I had a crush on." Many of the images were lifted directly from Dean's life: his college roommate had a Volkswagen van, he played plenty of gigs at the American Legion Hall, and his brother was in the WBAI fan club (the "friends of BAI").   

Dean wrote the song while his record deal with Lifesong was in the works, and it was released as his first single. This single version edited a key line in the song: "She was a Jewish girl, I fell in love with her" was changed to "Her name was Ariel, I fell in love with her" in an effort to earn airplay in the South. "I had no influence or leverage," said Dean. "One regret I have is that I let them change the single. In any case, stations in the South refused to play the edited version and they played the full album cut with 'Jewish girl' in it."   

The song was a hit on WNEW-FM, getting so many requests that the station thought Dean was enlisting his friends to lobby for it. Lifesong couldn't print copies of the 45 fast enough to meet the sudden demand, and the song stalled on the charts.  

"Ariel" ended up being Dean's only American hit, but he did far better in the UK, where "Lucky Stars" made #3 the following year. Dean still tours the UK once a year, where he remains a draw. Regarding "Ariel," he says, "It was an exciting feeling having real world confirmation of what I had believed as a teenager growing up, which is that I could write hit songs." 

You can catch the full interview with Dean Friedman here:


"Ariel" by Dean Friedman peaked at #17 on the national charts in 1977.  (Cash Box Magazine)  It's Today's Forgotten Hit!  (kk)