Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Don't Talk Back

You like to sing in the car, don't you?  Come on!  I see you at stop lights and making sharp turns, belting out a medley of Broadway show tunes, country classics and rock 'n' rollers.  I do too.  It's amazing how great I sound in the truck, and I always think some sharpie ought to hook up a recorder in here and really make some fine records.  Of me singing along with someone else's records.

To someone else's songs.  Just think of how great it would be if we could compose a lilting melody and smart lyrics of our own!  Just think, if we had a happy day and were in the Biscayne heading home and could just write a happy-day song about it all!  How great would that be!

Also great: being Jerry Leiber, who, along with partner Mike Stoller, wrote a few songs you might have heard over the years.  A few!  Such as, for starters:
  • "There Goes My Baby" 
  • "Hound Dog"
  • "Kansas City"
  • "Smokey Joe's Cafe"
  • "Yakety Yak"
  • "Poison Ivy"
  • "Charlie Brown"
  • "Ruby Baby"
  • "Stand By Me" 
  • "Jailhouse Rock"
  • "Love Potion No. 9"
  • "Searchin'"
  • "Young Blood" 
  • "Is That All There Is?"
  • "I'm a Woman" 
  • "On Broadway" 
 Baltimore claims Jerry Leiber as a native son, although he didn't hang around here for long.  In fact, he was in Los Angeles, finishing high school in 1950, when he met Stoller and began their collaboration with the tender love ballad "Real Ugly Woman."  (They got better after that.)

Leiber and Stoller wrote "Hound Dog" for the King (left) and also gave him "Love Me," "Loving You," "Don't," "Jailhouse Rock" and "King Creole."

Leiber, who passed away last week at 78,  and Stoller were among the crowd that made what's called "Brill Building" music.  The Brill Building is an office building on Broadway in fashionable New York City, where songwriters sat around all day in the 60's - people such as Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Neil Diamond, and Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry - and wrote songs that got lots of dimes dropped into lots of jukeboxes in lots of malt shops.  You've done songs like "Be My Baby," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Stand by Me," "Up on the Roof" and "On Broadway" while you were nowhere near Broadway!  But I bet you were somebody's baby, up on the roof dancing with him or her one summer night, and those songs remind you of the then that is always part of the now.


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