The Story Behind Lulu’s ‘To Sir With Love,’ Which Topped the Hot 100 in 1967

Saturday Night Live closed its first episode of the Trump administration with a musical farewell to President Obama. Under a portrait of the 44th President, cast member Cecily Strong sang the perfect song to say goodbye to the outgoing POTUS, the title song to the 1967 film To Sir, With Love.

The parallels were apparent to anyone familiar with the British flick. Sidney Poitier had the starring role as an unemployed black engineer who takes a job teaching an unruly class of white students in London’s East End. By the end of the film he has won over the undisciplined youngsters and has taught them to have self-respect.

One of the students was portrayed by Glasgow-born singer Lulu, who was best known in the U.K. for her version of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” Making her motion picture debut, Lulu heard the songs the producers were considering for the title song and thought they were all poor choices.

“I hated them,” she told Billboard in 1985. “I said to my friend Mark London, ‘They’re going to make me sing these rotten songs and it will be awful. Why don’t you write the songs?’” London said no, thinking he didn’t have a chance of having his work accepted. Lulu insisted so the Canadian composer came up with the music in five minutes. The next day, lyricist Don Black wrote the words.

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