One of the most famous advertising jingles in history is the one for Budweiser beer that ends with “When you say Budweiser, you’ve said it all.” It was first broadcast around 1970, and it wasn’t long before it was adopted by college marching bands. Georgia Tech claims to be first—they played the song in tribute to then-football coach Bud Carson. Here in Madison, the University of Wisconsin marching band has played it since 1972. People polka to it with such gusto that the band isn’t permitted to play it during football games because it causes the upper deck of Camp Randall Stadium to move. (They play it after the games, however, during the famous Fifth Quarter celebration.) At the end, every Badger fan within earshot shouts, “When you say Wis-con-sin, you’ve said it all.”
What you may not know about the jingle is that it became a hit song in a couple of different incarnations. In the late spring of 1972, Bob Luman took a rewritten version of it to Number 6 on the country charts under the title “When You Say Love.” (Luman is best remembered, probably, for his 1960 pop and country hit “Let’s Think About Living,” an answer to all the teenage tragedy songs of the late 50s.) A few months later, Sonny and Cher cut a version of it. Their “When You Say Love” was released only as a single and charted in July. It peaked at Number 32 on the Hot 100 in August (and went Top 10 in Des Moines, for whatever that’s worth).
The original jingle was written by Steve Karmen, whose other credits include “Weekends were made for Michelob,” “Carry the big fresh flavor of Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum,” “Sooner or later you’ll own Generals” (for General Tire), and “Nationwide [Insurance] is on your side.” The country songwriting team of Jerry Foster and Bill Rice turned the jingle into a full song, which isn’t slavishly true to the jingle. And in fact, if you didn’t know it was based directly on the Bud song, you might chalk it up to coincidence.
By the time “When You Say Love” was off the radio in the fall, the third season of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour had premiered, and it was one of the top-rated shows on TV. Despite their TV success, Sonny and Cher would never return to the Top 40, although one other single, “Mama Was a Rock and Roll Singer, Papa Used to Write All Her Songs,” creased the Hot 100 the next spring. Time and again in the 1970s, previously successful recording acts saw their hitmaking days fade when their TV shows became successful. It happened to Tony Orlando and Dawn, the Captain and Tennille, and even to Buck Owens and Roy Clark after Hee Haw.
Recommended Reading: Steely Dan is getting ready to hit the road for the fourth straight summer, with a twist this year. On some dates, they’ll be playing all of Gaucho, Aja, or The Royal Scam, while at a handful of others, fans will be able to vote for the songs they’d like to hear at the show. Details and dates here. The Dan has always been one of the most literate bands in rock, which is one of the things I dig about them. Over at My Hmphs, you can explore the anti-Dans: 20 songs with really bad grammar and what might be the single most illiterate song in the history of music.