Hall and Oates’ most recent No. 1 single, 1984’s “Out of Touch,” was dominated musically by John Oates’ experiments with a then-new synth. But his original inspiration for the song reached much further back, all the way to one of the duo’s principal Philly soul influences.
“‘Out of Touch’ is an interesting song,” Oates tells Lighting 100. “I kind of came up with the idea for the chorus when I was trying to write a song for the Stylistics.”
At this point, the Stylistics were well past their early-1970s heyday, when the group reeled off an amazing 12 consecutive Top 10 R&B hits including “You Are Everything,” “People Make the World Go Round,’ “Betcha by Golly Wow” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” among others. Hall and Oates would later make their musical debt to the Stylistics clear by including “You Are Everything” on the 2004 classic-R&B tribute album Our Kind of Soul.
Upon hearing Oates’s rough draft for “Out of Touch,” however, partner Daryl Hall all of sudden wasn’t feeling quite so charitable.
“Little did I know,” Oates adds, “when I took it into the studio, Daryl and a guy were working with, [producer/mixer] Arthur Baker, heard it — and they said: ‘Man, you’re out of your mind! We’re cutting this. This is going to be a No. 1 record for us!'”
They were right. Serving as the lead single for Big Bam Boom, “Out of Touch” would top the Billboard charts for two weeks in December 1984 after undergoing some additional rewrites from Hall. That marked Hall and Oates’ 14 consecutive Top 40 hit in a run that to that point dated back to 1980.