Vision Of Love
I never expected this song to be a big hit
- Mariah Carey
Written by Mariah Carey & Ben Margulies
Produced by Rhett Lawrence & Narada Michael Walden
3:29 Album Version
3:36 MTV Unplugged Version
ABOUT THE SONG
“Carey says she was just as startled as anyone that ‘Vision of Love’ hit so big because ‘it isn’t hip-hop music, it isn’t house music, and it isn’t rap. But I am so glad and thankful,’ she says. ‘That song really represents everything in my life. It is a song from the heart.’ Consider the lyrics: ‘Prayed through the nights / Felt so alone / Suffered from alienation / Carried the weight on my own / Had to be strong / So I believed / And now I know I've succeeded / In finding the place I conceived’… Well, just because you are young doesn't mean that you haven't had a hard life. It's been difficult for me, moving around so much, having to grow up by myself, basically on my own, my parents divorced. And I always felt kind of different from everyone else in my neighborhoods. I was a different person – ethnically. And sometimes that can be a problem. If you look a certain way everybody goes, 'White girl,' and I'd go, 'No, that's not what I am.’ Carey chose to express her innermost feelings in her songs rather than become depressed and bitter. ‘You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say ‘I’m proud of what I am and who I am, and I’m just going to be myself.’’” - Ebony Magazine “Not Another White Girl Trying to Sing Black” by Lynn Norment, March 1991
“The Columbia brass argued that their selection was more appropriate because it sounded “young,” Carey said. “I said, ‘It’s not young, it’s stupid — it’s a played-out style.’ It was a cheesy little uptempo ditty I hated so much. I really stood my ground, and they didn’t make me put it on the album. Lucky for me everything worked out, because if it hadn’t, they would have said, ‘We told you this was the hit.” - The Record (Northern New Jersey Publication) “The education of Mariah Carey” by Tom Moon, Special from the Philadelphia Inquirer, December 10, 1993
“Vision of Love, being my first single, when I think about it, that’s always, I mean, that was a very good time in my life when I wrote that song, when I recorded that song, that was like - I wrote it right after I got, you know, first got signed - I don’t even think I was signed yet, I just first knew I was going to have a record deal and I recorded it in the back of this wood shed when I was still doing demos in this little studio and so I’ll always have a really good feeling about that song. You know, I just I love doing it live, and so when I listen to it, it definitely brings back memories. - #1s DVD Interview 1999
Craig: One thing, again I told you how I became like very interested in your music, part of it was your focus on backing vocals because that’s what I’ve always loved about Luther. and i think one of my favorite records of yours was the Christmas album, because the backing vocals on those were just so powerful. Why did you decide…And that’s not really a pop music thing at the time to have such prominent backing vocals. Why was that important to you?
MC: Well, even if you go back to Vision of Love and you listen to Vision of Love, which I have my criticisms with that record - the demo was better than the record. The demo was done in my little studio that the guy that I was signed to, he was a producer I was a signed to him and I ended up giving away a lot of money to him, but, and royalties for years, but he had this little studio and I did Vision of Love in there and I sang on a PZM drum mic, which is like, I’m not sure if you’re familiar, but it’s a black drum mic that’s like twenty five dollars and it’s made for flat - to put in a drum, right? But that’s all we had, so it picked up a lot of the harmonics in my voice, so when I was doing those [sings] ahhhh, oooo on those background parts, it really picked up the air. So when I went to do the record, I couldn’t recreate those backgrounds as well as they were on that little crappy studio. So we ended up using a lot of that, even the high note is from that PZM drum mic. Like, I might, just for experimentation go and try and sing in to one of those mics to see what it sounds like, ‘cause it picked up certain qualities. - Interview with Craig Seymour, 1999
“Carey went to Los Angeles to work with [Rhett] Lawrence. He heard a round version of ‘Vision of Love,’ a song Mariah and Ben [Marguelies] wrote right after she signed with Columbia. Described by Mariah as not so much a love song but a celebration of her life at that time, the demo sounded very different from what would be the finished product; according to Lawrence, ‘it was a different tempo at the time… a ‘50s sort of shuffle.’ Working with Ben and Mariah in the studio, Lawrence changed the tempo and used Mariah’s vocals from the demo as a second vocal in the tag of the song.” - 2003 Fred Bronson “The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits” Page 762
But the truth is, her breakthrough single was the power ballad “Vision of Love” – which first hit on the R&B charts. “I was really surprised it went anywhere in pop, because ‘Vision’ was very raw, very R&B,” Carey says. “A lot of rap artists I’ve worked with mention ‘Vision of Love’ as a song that really meant something to them. It was a ballad, but I think it showed how rooted I am in urban music.” - PARIAH CAREY – NEW ALBUM, NEW ATTITUDE – BUT MARIAH’S STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS by Dan Aquilante, April 10, 2005
I’ve written a lot of songs on the piano by myself, songs like "Vision of Love" and "All I Want For Xmas Is You" which I wrote by using a small Casio-keyboard. - Groove (Swedish Magazine – translated article) by Mats Almegård, August 25, 2005
IS: The million-dollar question: What do you think would have happened if you had never met Tommy Mottola?
MC: I already had a deal with Warner Bros. that was pending. It was through Ben Margulies, who I had written most of my first album with — lots of it when I was in high school. I used to come in and work at his studio, which was [at the back of a loft space that was covered in wood chips] and I wrote "Vision of Love" there, songs that became number one hits that I don't listen to anymore. "Someday" was a number one hit — I wrote it and recorded it there. And a song that [I was offered a] publishing deal for called "All In Your Mind" — it was on my first album [1990's Mariah Carey]. [Someone at another company] was like, "We'll give you 5,000 for this!” - Interview “The Naked Truth From The World’s Biggest Diva” by Ingrid Sischy, September 2007
“I never expected this song to be a big hit, because it was so different than the songs that were popular in that time period. I started writing this song on the keyboard alone, which is a rarity because I’m not a great piano player to say the least :-) The song is very special to me because it encapsulates the story of my dream of becoming a recording artist, although most people interpret it as a love song.” - #1 to Infinity liner notes, 2015
1990 Released on the Mariah Carey album.
1992 Live recording released on the MTV Unplugged EP.
1998 Included on the #1s compilation album.
2000 Included on the Valentines EP.
2001 Included on the Greatest Hits compilation album.
2009 Included on the The Ballads/Love Songs compilation album.
2015 Included on the #1 to Infinity compilation album.