Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Laura Branigan, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?”

Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Laura Branigan BRANIGAN 2  Album Cover

36 years ago today, Laura Branigan was sitting atop Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart with a song which – had things gone as planned – she never would’ve recorded in the first place!

Written by Michael Bolton and Doug James, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?” was originally intended for Air Supply, and if Bolton and James had been a little bit more flexible with their lyrics, then maybe you’d be hearing Russell Hitchcock crooning the tune in question. What happened, however, was that Clive Davis, the president of Air Supply’s then-label, Arista, wanted to change the lyrics of the chorus, and Bolton balked at the suggestion. In turn, Davis passed on the track, which in turn led to Branigan being able to take a shot at it.

Having apparently no problem with the song as it was originally written, Branigan recorded “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?” for her appropriately-titled second album, BRANIGAN 2, and when it was released as a single, it climbed to #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 but – as mentioned in the opening paragraph – topped the Adult Contemporary chart for three weeks. Just as a sidebar observation, what’s arguably most impressive about this feat in 1983 was that she didn’t make a video for the song.

Oh, sure, she performed it on Solid Gold, but that’s hardly the same thing…

Before we wrap this up, it behooves us to mention that, yes, Bolton had his own hit with this song. In fact, not only did it find its way back into the top spot of the Adult Contemporary chart, but this time it climbed, all the way to the top of the Hot 100. In addition, he also won a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.


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