Music Throwback Saturday: On Broadway

A young Phil Spector played the distinctive lead guitar solo on The Drifters’ recording.

ClaudeMckayI’ve been involved with an office JEOPARDY! game. A recent clue: “A hundred shouting signs shed down their bright fantastic glow” in Claude McKay’s “On” this NYC street. No idea, but because of a question I’d missed earlier, I take a guess, and it’s correct.

Here’s On Broadway by Claude McKay, a rather melancholy piece:
Upon the merry crowd and lines
Of moving carriages below.
Oh wonderful is Broadway — only
My heart, my heart is lonely.

Claude McKay was born in Jamaica on September 15, 1889, and became an early key figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.

I wonder if the poem inspired a song a few decades later:

New York City-based composers Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote On Broadway “originally recorded by the Cookies (although the Crystals’ version beat them to release)”…

“Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller liked the song but felt that it was not quite right [for the Drifters] and the four held an overnight brainstorming session which culminated in the better-known version of the song, now with a rock-oriented groove and with a more bluesy feel… A young Phil Spector played the distinctive lead guitar solo on The Drifters’ recording.”

LISTEN to On Broadway

The Cookies

The Crystals

The Drifters, #9 pop, #7 soul in 1963

Dave Clark Five

The Chipettes

Bobby Darin

Percy Faith Orchestra

Neil Young

George Benson, #7 pop, #2 soul

“George Benson’s version… from his 1978 album Weekend in L.A…. won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance. The song appeared in the films Big Business and American Beauty, and… was used in the 1979 film All That Jazz in a sequence that featured dancers on stage auditioning for a musical similar to Chicago. George Benson also performed “On Broadway” with Clifford and the Rhythm Rats for the 1994 Muppet album Kermit Unpigged.”

M is for Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil

Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame occurred during the 50th year of their personal and professional collaboration.

mann-weil2In the hit Broadway show Beautiful: the Carole King Musical, the characters portraying songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil express having a complicated relationship with competing songwriters King and her then-husband, the late Gerry Goffin, back in the 1960s.

From a February 2015 CBS Sunday Morning interview: “That was absolute truth,” replied Weil. “It was the most conflicting relationship I think we’ve ever had with anybody. Because we loved them, we hated them, we were competitive with them, we cheered for them, we cheered for ourselves.”

You may never have heard of Barry Mann (b. February 9, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York City) and Cynthia Weil (b. October 18, 1940, in New York City), but it is most likely that you have listened to their many songs, most of which are linked HERE, and many of which charted.

“Blame It on the Bossa Nova” – Eydie Gorme
“Don’t Know Much” – Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt (written with Tom Snow)
“He’s Sure the Boy I Love” – The Crystals
“Hungry” – Paul Revere & the Raiders
“Kicks” – Paul Revere & The Raiders
“Make Your Own Kind of Music” – “Mama” Cass Elliot
“On Broadway” – The Drifters; George Benson (written with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
“Only in America” – The Drifters (unreleased); Jay and the Americans
“Somewhere Out There” – Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram
“The Shape of Things to Come” – Max Frost and the Troopers
“Walking in the Rain” – The Ronettes; The Walker Brothers
“We Gotta Get out of This Place” – The Animals
“Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp) – Barry Mann (written with Gerry Goffin)
“(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” – The Righteous Brothers; Donny and Marie Osmond
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” – The Righteous Brothers; Dionne Warwick; Hall & Oates; Roberta Flack-Donny Hathaway (written with Phil Spector)

In 1987, they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. Their bio notes:

They’re… one of the longest-running teams in the music business, having been collaborators since 1960. Their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame occurred during the 50th year of their personal and professional collaboration.

In addition to longevity, they’ve exhibited great stylistic range in their work, from epic ballads… to outright rockers… They are also among pop’s most prolific songwriters as well; Mann has nearly 800 and Weil nearly 600 works registered with Broadcast Music, Inc. It’s estimated that Mann and Weil’s songs are responsible for the sale of 200 million records.

They have been married since 1961.

Mann’s other movie work includes the scores for I Never Sang for My Father and Muppet Treasure Island, and songs for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Oliver and Company. He is an occasional recorded singer and active photographer.

“In 2004, Mann and Weil’s They Wrote That?, a musical revue based on their songs, opened in New York. In it, Mann sang and Weil related stories about the songs and their personal history.”

ABC Wednesday – Round 16

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