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The lyrics tell of Brandy, a barmaid in a busy seaport harbor town which serves "a hundred ships a day." Though lonely sailors flirt with her, she pines for one who's long since left her because he claimed his life, his love, and his lady, was "the sea."
Lurie also refutes the suggestion that the song was written by songwriter Stephen Homner, and eventually sold to Elliot Lurie after Lurie expressed interest in the song.
Before and after
In February 1972, Robert Mandel was the Epic Records Promotion Manager in Washington, D.C. He received a test pressing of an album by a new group named "Looking Glass". He took the test pressing around to every radio station in the Washington/Baltimore region. At the time, WPGC AM/FM was one of the leading Top 40 stations in the country and was the number one radio station in DC. Harv Moore was the Program Director. He put the song into a one-hour rotation for two days and as Harv related at the time, "the switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree". He said that he had never received a response like that on a record in his 15 years in radio. Based on the airplay at WPGC and all the other Top 40 stations that followed, Epic rush-released the single of "Brandy". Based on requests alone, two weeks later, when the single finally hit the stores, "Brandy" was the number one record in DC without a single copy yet sold. Other stations around the country started playing it and it ended up being a number one million seller. A year later when Harv celebrated his 10th Anniversary at WPGC, Looking Glass returned the favor and played at the bash the station held in his honor.
Barry Manilow's "Mandy"
Barry Manilow's 1974 "Mandy" was a cover of a song originally titled "Brandy", released in February 1972 by Scott English; however, Manilow changed the title following the success of the Looking Glass single, so as not to get the two songs confused. This song is not related to the song by Looking Glass.
On the album Silver City by Sarah Borges, the song "Same Old 45" retells the story of Brandy from her point of view.
Fantasy author Alex Bledsoe used Brandy's name and the song's story for his novel Wake of the Bloody Angel.
Paul Stanley of the rock band KISS wrote that Brandy helped inspire the band's hit Hard Luck Woman in his 2014 memoir Face the Music: A Life Exposed.
The song is included on the soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It appears in the opening scene and again in a scene on Ego the Living Planet, when Ego uses the lyrics as metaphor to explain his experience as a cosmos-wandering Celestial who fell in love with Peter Quill's mother on Earth. Ego called the song "one of Earth's greatest musical compositions, perhaps the greatest."
Name popularity effect
Following the song's release in 1972, "Brandy" increased in popularity as a girl's name in the United States. According to data from the Social Security Administration, drawn from "Social Security card applications for births that occurred in the United States," Brandy was the 353rd most popular name in 1971, 140th in 1972, and, in 1973 (the first full year after the song's popularity), 82nd.
Red Hot Chili Peppers performed a cover version of the song on their Live in Hyde Park album and during their 2004 tour. They again performed it in May 2017 for the first time in twelve years.
Washboard Jungle often performs this song as an encore, and recorded it on their 1994 album The Wash Cycle. They play it considerably faster than either the original or the Chili Peppers version.