June 26

The Story of “The Sound Of Goodbye” by Crystal Gayle

The Story of “The Sound Of Goodbye” by Crystal Gayle 1

About the Songwriter

This hit by Crystal Gayle was written by a tunesmith named Hugh Prestwood. He is a Texas native and his story goes like this. Hugh Prestwood waited until the age of 30 to leave El Paso, Texas for his dream. He was a teacher during the day and a club performer during the nights. He moved to New York when a woman he knew asked him for some songs she was recording for CBS. Even though she was never signed, the producer liked the material and it was just enough to appoint Prestwood into taking the plunge in the early 1970s.

The Sound of Goodbye

Pop singers like Jackie DeShannon and Judy Collins were just of the first to record Hugh’s songs in 1979. Judy played a big role in the song “Sound of Goodbye” to make it the first chart-topping song of Hugh Prestwood. He wrote the song back in 1981 during the breakup of his second marriage. It was the impending divorce that made him wrote the song. He remembers thinking:

“We’re not actually speaking it, but it’s like we’re saying goodbye.”

He jotted the idea down and it served as the basis for the writing of his first chart-topping hit.

Pitching the Song to be a Hit

It was over three years for “Sound of Goodbye” to be aired. The Hugh’s publisher pitched the song over and over and it received no interest from various artists. However, everything changed when Hugh Prestwood went to the Music City, Nashville. Judy Collins suggested that he set up an appointment with Crystal Gayle’s producer Jimmy Bowen. During their meeting, Hugh gave Jimmy a tape with three or four songs in it (including “Sound of Goodbye”). By the time Bowens showed the taped to Crystal Gayle, he couldn’t remember where the song came from. Apparently, Hugh’s demo’s was transferred to another tape, but the contact information wasn’t.

The Recording and the Success

Crystal Gayle remembers that it was just a tape with a song on it and nothing else. So Bowen said that:

“Well, let’s just record it, and we’ll find out who wrote the thing later.”

Fortunately, the sound engineer on that Crystal Gayle’s recording session happened to walk into another studio where a friend was working on another song from the same demo. Luckily there were two copies and that friend said that the record belonged to Hugh Prestwood. At that point, all contacts were made and the paperwork was finished. Thereafter, Crystal Gayle’s record was issued.

All the executives at Crystal Gayle’s record, Warner Bros. was a bit afraid at first. They thought that it might be a bit strong for country radio. On the other hand, producer Jimmy Bowen had no worries, and his instincts were proven right when “Sound of Goodbye” went to No. 1 on January 28, 1984. This event marked Crystal Gayle’s 14th of her eighteen chart-topping hits.


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