It’s no secret that we are huge Phil Vassar fans here at Raised On It. So it was long overdue to feature his debut single “Carlene” as our Throwback Jam.
While the song kickstarted his career as an artist, after years of penning top hits for other artists, you might not know the true inspiration behind the hit.
None other than supermodel Cindy Crawford.
Vassar tells Songfacts.com that it was also about someone he went to high school with saying, “The valedictorian of my class was Janice Roque, and I kept thinking about Janice. I’d seen her not long after I got a record deal, and I wrote the song after I was thinking, man, she looked so good. She was this little geeky girl, but she was such a pretty girl, so she’s a pretty lady.”
“Then I was watching this thing about Cindy Crawford on TV and, of course, it happened that she was valedictorian of her class and she had these little glasses on and I was like, can you imagine she becomes Cindy Crawford, supermodel? So, I thought that was a funny story. Of course, I was a football player and a C student poster child, so it was definitely a stretch that I put us together in the song.”
Once Vassar got to writing with his co-writer Charlie Black they were playing around with finding the perfect name for the main character. After kicking around some names, Charlie threw out “Carlene” as that was the name of one of his girlfriends in high school.
And history was made. Vassar had his hit debut single and a Top 5 radio hit.