Music fans might expect that the songs up for Best Song consideration at the 1977 Grammy Awards included songs that have stood the test of time, like Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish,” Elvis Costello’s “Allison,” Tom Petty’s “American Girl” or Bob Marley’s “Jammin'”. In actuality, the Academy of 1978 considered a slate of songs from 1977 that included only one timeless classic (“Hotel California”). And, in the end, Grammy voters that year made history by failing even to settle on a winner. On February 23, 1978, both Barbra Streisand’s “Love Theme from A Star Is Born (Evergreen)” and Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” were awarded the Best Song Grammy—the first and only tie in that category in Grammy history.
The award for “You Light Up My Life” was not actually an award for Debby Boone. The Best Song category is an award for songwriters, and though “You Light Up My Life” propelled Boone to the Best New Artist award that year, she did not write the song herself. A songwriter named Joe Brooks picked up his Best Song Grammy for a song originally recorded by an obscure session singer for use in the soundtrack of a movie he also directed, also called You Light Up My Life. Debby Boone’s record label found the song and had her record it after the movie had already been made. It went on to spend an astonishing 10 weeks at the top of the pop charts in the autumn of 1977. “You Light Up My Life” was Debby Boone’s only pop hit and led to her only Grammy nomination
“Love Theme from A Star Is Born (Evergreen)” was co-written by Streisand and Paul Williams, both multiple Grammy winners—Streisand has won 13 Grammys while Paul Williams has won two. Like “You Light Up My Life,” “Evergreen” was also from a movie that failed to have anywhere near the impact its theme song did. For Barbra Streisand, the tie that night made her the answer to an excellent trivia question: Who is the only person to tie for both a Grammy Award and an Oscar? In 1968, she was the co-winner in the Best Actress category for her performance in Funny Girl. (Katherine Hepburn was the co-winner for her role in The Lion in Winter.)