Thursday, October 18, 2012

Her own kind of music

My gosh, but the birthdays this month.... Today there are a number of people to celebrate whom I've admired, who have given me pleasure, or who have influenced my life in one way or another. But one name on the list today stands out for her songs, which were popular as I was growing up. Cynthia Weil trained as an actress and dancer, but discovered that she had talent as a songwriter. While working at the office of Don Kirshner's and Al Nevin's Aldon Music Co., she met and married songwriter Barry Mann, who had written and performed the hit song "Who Put the Bomp". Together they became major players at the Brill Building, the 1960's incarnation of Tin Pan Alley, writing many of the top pop hits of the day. Young Stevil loved many of their songs. Last year, the couple was awarded the Johnny Mercer Prize, the highest and most prestigious award which can be given a songwriter.

Many of the Weil-Mann collaborations expressed a social consciousness unusual for their day. One, "Only in America" was written for the Drifters but was reworked into an uncontroversial song by Leiber and Stoller for Jay and the Americans. I first heard the Drifter's version, and like it better.


A few other favorites include:


The following song was one that I often played on the jukebox at a favorite Boardwalk diner in Ocean City, NJ. There is a lip synch video of it which is staged on a beach that I would have put here but it sounds like it was recorded underwater, so I'm using a different version with less visual quality. No matter, it still expresses my teenage angst. Hell, it expresses my adult angst for that matter.


There are so many other songs that anyone my age would recognize instantly, But finally, I have to post this one. As of 2010, it was the most popular song ever to appear on radio with over 14 million plays. And yes, I have the 45rpm record.


So Happy Birthday Cynthia Weil - and Thank You for so much wonderful music!

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