When you think of “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me),” the 1979 chart-topper from the Bellamy Brothers, you probably think of one of the greatest pick-up songs in Country Music history.
However, go around the world to India, and you will find that the song means something a little bit different. In fact, the suggestive song is actually one of the country’s top wedding songs – a fact that continues to fascinate David Bellamy. “We didn’t know about that until we went there. It’s a really funny thing. Everyone there can sing it,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville.
“In India, weddings are a massive part of their society,” says Howard Bellamy. “If you go there, you can’t avoid a wedding. They have decorated elephants with flowers all over them, and it’s a big part of their culture. I’m not sure how the song got mixed into all of that, but also ‘Let Your Love Flow’ and ‘I Need More Of You’ are big wedding songs, but ‘Beautiful Body’ has somehow caught on as a first dance song.”
2016 marks a major milestone in the brothers’ career, as they are celebrating the fortieth anniversary of their first hit, “Let Your Love Flow.” Does it seem that long? Howard says it all depends upon the day.
“Sometimes, it seems like it could have been a hundred years ago, and then, there are days it seems like yesterday,” he confesses. “It’s funny how things like that work. We’ve had such an incredible ride. I think what makes our story a little different is the fact that we’ve been so universally accepted over the years. I think we’ve played in something like sixty-five countries. For two Florida cowboys, we’ve been fortunate to have gone a lot of places.”
He did say that if you think the road itself is full of glamour, think again. Hotel rooms in Illinois look almost identical to ones in Wyoming. “A lot of times, now more than ever, I think that I’m somewhere I’m not. You travel so much.”
The international aspect of the Bellamys’ career has been one of the biggest factors of their touring success. Though, David notes that it took them years to agree to some of the tour proposals they received. “The reception in India and Sri Lanka was very surprising. For years, people would tell us we needed to go to India, and we never really thought that much about it. We kept getting offers from Sri Lanka, and there was no real way to route that in. It just didn’t make financial sense. Finally, a couple of promoters got together and put together a whole run. We went down there and did them, but we were just speechless. We checked into the hotel, and the bell boys came out with their guitar, singing ‘I Need More Of You.’ It was so strange. I wish we had done that earlier. There still aren’t that many acts that toured there. It’s very hard to tour there and to get around.”
Whether it’s Sri Lanka or Pulaski, Tennessee, the duo maintains quite the following on the road. But, David notes that it can be tough to make everyone happy, with as many hits they have enjoyed. “It’s always the one you leave out that someone is going to request,” he said. “Then, if you put that one in the next night, it’s the one you replaced that someone will get upset about.”
Howard says the fans’ memories can surprise even them. “People will come up and request old obscure songs that I’ve never heard, which I’ve always enjoyed. That lets you know they’ve listened to your music. Sometimes, we get a request for a song we have forgotten.”
One song that appears in their stage show from time to time is “Country Rap.” Though only a Top-40 song in 1987, the duo gets credit for opening the floodgates for the Rap / Hip Hop influence in the format today. David says they actually were planting their tongues firmly in cheek with the song. “We were actually making fun. I wrote that rhyme, and when we got to the studio, we were cutting with some great players like Larrie Londin and Emory Gordy, Jr. They did such an incredible job on the track. It turned out to be a pretty good really tune – more than I expected.”
A song that turned out much bigger for the duo was “Lie To You For Your Love,” which David has fond memories of co-writing with Scottish artist Frankie Miller – albeit with one small edit. “He came over to write with us, and he had the song on a cassette. The lyrics said ‘I’m a doctor. I’m a lawyer. I’m a movie star. I’m an amateur gynecologist, and I own this bar.’ We told him he had a great song, but that line wasn’t going to work. We took that, and the three of us all separated on the bus, and what you hear are the three verses that each of us wrote, and we all wrote the bridge together.”
Then, there was the melodic sounds of 1988’s “Santa Fe,” which David says turned out exactly the way they wanted. “We kind of fell under the spell of Santa Fe. We used to hang out there a lot. We loved the west. It’s actually one of our favorite parts of the world. We started hanging out there a lot. It was such a magical place – and still is. It was one of those things we had to write about. Ron Taylor, who was our keyboard player at the time – he wrote that classical intro to it, and made it even better.”
Still on the road with a heavy touring schedule, the Bellamys also are promoting their newest album, a two-disc set titled 40 Years: The Album, where one disc features their classic hits, and the second with all-new material. The collection contains a new version of “Let Your Love Flow” that has found new life through the duo’s involvement with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. David says it’s been an intensely personal connection. “A friend of ours from grade school went through the process of finding out she had cancer, the surgeries, the treatments, the therapy sessions, and the reconstruction – about a three to four-year project. Now, she’s actually doing very well. My wife and her friend actually contacted the people at Komen and said they wanted to do something with them in conjunction with this project. We got together about forty to fifty cancer survivors in Fort Worth, Texas, and had a special day for them.”
David admitted that event really affected he and his brother. “That was really huge. Of course, we all knew what an epidemic that breast cancer is. But, that event helped to shine a whole new light on breast cancer. We heard so many stories from the survivors about what they went through. So, we’ve actually gotten more involved with the project as we’ve gone along.”
All proceeds from the download of the new version of the hit song will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.