As Cherie Currie was driving back home to California from her twin sister’s home in Henderson, NV over the July 4th weekend, she only had two CDs in tow, including one her sister gave her for the ride: Forrest Gump: The Soundtrack. Drifting through Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” or “California Dreamin’” and any one of the other dozens of ’50s- and ’60s-era tracks on the 1994 film’s soundtrack, it was one song in particular that captured Currie’s attention.
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Just as she was 10 miles from home, Jackie DeShannon’s “What the World Needs Now is Love” came on and Currie found herself putting the song on repeat and singing along to its timeless croon of What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No not just for some but for everyone, while thinking how prevalent those simple lyrics still are today.
“I remember exactly where I was on the freeway and I just put it on repeat,” says Currie “I just started listening, and went ‘oh my God, this really is what the world needs now—love,’” says Currie, who was already thinking of covering the 1965 Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned hit.
Almost serendipitously, Currie’s friend, former Goo Goo Dolls member Dave Schulz, called her just at that moment and was immediately on board to help her produce the song, originally written as an anthem about the importance of love in a very disconcerted world.
“I was ecstatic at the idea,” says Schulz, who also sings and plays keyboards on the track. “It truly was a blast to create, and I think it’s great for Cherie, especially, since it’s not something her fans will expect from her.”
Along with Schulz and nearly a dozen of his musical friends, Currie offers a jazzed up, standards ode to the classic—a departure from her solo classic rock and The Runaways catalog—as her heartfelt vocals motion through We don’t need another mountain / There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb / There are oceans and rivers enough to cross / Enough to last till the end of time—words that still continue to resonate more than 55 years after the song’s release.
Filmed separately while in quarantine, the video, edited by Sammy Burke, features Currie and the entire band, including bassist Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, John Lennon), drummer Randy Cooke (Ringo Starr, Dave Stewart, Colbie Caillat), and Burt Bacharach’s violinist Eliza James with additional backing vocals by Sharlotte Gibson (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Nine Inch Nails), and Currie’s longtime friend, singer Julie Ragins (Moody Blues, Queen Latifah).
“Had this pandemic not happened, this video never would have happened,” says Currie. “This pandemic has given us all opportunities to do things that we never would have been able to do otherwise because we’re working from our homes.”
Working alongside her son and producer, Jake Hays, Currie built a sound booth in her living room just to record “What the World Needs Now is Love.” Following up her 2019 solo release Blvds of Splendor, which she calls the best album of her career, Currie is using lockdown to explore new music and says she’s open to crossing over from her rock roots and making an album that’s more in the vein of DeShannon’s song.
“He [Schulz] wants to make a record, and at this point in my life, I will do anything to see if I can do it, because I’ve never considered myself a singer—ever,” says Currie. “I was never born with those great chops, but as I’ve gotten older, I have confidence is everything. If you stop beating yourself up and holding yourself back, you find that you really can do anything.”
Currie adds, “It’s kind of funny thinking that this girl who at 15 was singing ‘Cherry Bomb’ turns around and starts doing songs that really are so incredibly timeless and meaningful, especially today when we are just in absolute chaos. So it’s a small something that we can contribute.”