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Husband and Wife Song Writing team Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Husband and wife song writing team, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, the duo responsible for such songs as “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling,” “On Broadway,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “Here You Come Again,” “Don’t Know Much,” and more. The two met when they were both working in the famous songwriting landmark, the Brill Building— Mann as a composer and Weil as a lyricist. The two have been writing ever since. In edition to their many pop hits, Mann and Weil have also written songs for films.

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Transcript

DATE July 18, 2000 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil discuss their careers as a songwriting team and a married couple for 40 years
TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guests, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, have been a songwriting team, as well
as husband and wife, for about four decades. Their hits include "On
Broadway," "Uptown," "He's Sure The Boy I Love," "Only In America," "Kicks,"
"We've Got To Get Out of This Place" and this song.

(Soundbite of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling")

Unidentified Singer #1: You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your
lips. There's not tenderness like before in your fingertips. You're trying
hard not to show it, but, baby, baby, I know it. You've lost that loving
feeling, whoa, that loving feeling...

GROSS: When Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil teamed up in the early '60s, they
were both staff writers for a music publishing company owned by Don Kirshner.
They worked in a Manhattan office building near the Brill Building when the
area was the new Tin Pan Alley, where Mann and Weil and songwriters like
Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Ellie Greenwich and Neil Sedaka churned out
material for the latest singers and pop groups. Unlike many songwriters of
the '60s, Mann and Weil survived the British invasion. Their most recent
songs include "Here You Come Again" and "Somewhere Out There." Those are two
of the songs Barry Mann sings on his recent CD, "Soul & Inspiration." At
the end of 1999, Mann and Weil's song "You've Lost That Loving Feeing" was
the most performed song of the century in the BMI Music Publishing catalog.

(Soundbite of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling")

Unidentified Singer #1: Baby, baby, I'll get down on my knees for you if you
will only love me like you used to do. Yeah. We had a love, a love, a love
you don't find every day. But don't, don't, don't, don't let them fade.
Baby, baby, baby, baby, I beg you please, please, please, please. I need your
love. I need your love. I need your love. I need your love. So bring it on
back...

GROSS: Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, welcome to FRESH AIR.

Mr. BARRY MANN (Songwriter): Well, thank you.

Ms. CYNTHIA WEIL (Songwriter): Thank you.

GROSS: Barry Mann, let me ask you first, what's happening in the melody of
that song? Is there anything that you worked on that is particularly
interesting to describe?

Mr. MANN: Well, I don't know if it would be interesting now, but when we
wrote the song, it was very different for its time. That middle part of the
song, you know, the kind of soulful part, had never been done before. And
also at the time, the record ran long, which nowadays, it's really short. It
ran over three minutes. And so Phil Spector, who produced the record, even
though--I think he put 2:58 on it, even though I think it ran around 3:10 or
so. So that's about the only difference I can talk about now.

GROSS: Oh, so he lied about the length so DJs would play it.

Mr. MANN: Yes. Yeah.

GROSS: Yeah. Yes. Wen you say that part of the melody hadn't ever been done
before, which part are you referring to? Maybe you could hum it for us.

Mr. MANN: You know, where they go, boom, mm, dum, `Baby, baby, I get down on
my knees for you.' For that period, I think it was kind of very different to
come out with something like that in a ballad.

GROSS: Cynthia Weil, what was the part of the lyric that came to you first
that you built everything else around?

Ms. WEIL: You know, Barry started playing that opening melody, and I'm not
sure which one of us--as a matter of fact, I think it was Barry who came up
with the opening line, `You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your
lips.' And it just seemed to flow. And when we hit the chorus, one of us--I
think it was me--sang out, `You've lost that loving feeling.' And we weren't
even thinking of using it as the real title. I mean, in those days, we used
to write a song and kind of just fill it up with any words just so we'd
remember it. And we used to call that a dummy title or a dummy lyric, and
that was our dummy lyric. And then we wrote a verse and a chorus, and we
called Phil, and we played it for him, and he said, `That's not the dummy
lyric. That's the lyric.'

Mr. MANN: Yeah, that's the title, definitely.

Ms. WEIL: Yeah.

GROSS: Now Phil Spector has a co-writing credit on "You've Lost That Loving
Feeling." What did he add?

Mr. MANN: Well, it was his suggestion to come up with that middle part, which
was a terrific suggestion. And, you know, after we did play the verses and
the chorus, he then joined in and continued to...

Ms. WEIL: We wrote the rest of the song together.

Mr. MANN: ...the rest of the song together. And also, he produced an
incredible record...

Ms. WEIL: Yeah. Absolutely.

Mr. MANN: ...for its time.

GROSS: So were you writing the song on assignment? Were you writing it for
The Righteous Brothers?

Mr. MANN: Yes.

Ms. WEIL: Yeah. We were living in New York at the time, and we had worked a
little bit with Phil, and he wanted us to come out and work with him in LA,
and he played us a record of these two singers out of Orange County, and they
had two local hits. One was called "My Babe" and the other was "Little Latin
Lupe Lu." And he said, `You know, let's think of a way to go with them that's
interesting. I want to record them for my label.' And we were very inspired
by The Four Tops, and "Baby I Need Your Loving" was our favorite song of the
time, because it had this really raw passion that we wanted to capture for The
Righteous Brothers. And when we wrote the song, they weren't that crazy about
it.

GROSS: Really?

Mr. MANN: Well, when I sang it--I loved The Everly Brothers at the time and I
sounded like The Everly Brothers. So when I sang it to Bill and Bobby, they
said, `You know, this isn't really very good for The Everly Brothers.' And
another thing that happened is that at the time, you know, the records that
they had been putting out, they both sang together, and this one--Bill Medley
had the lead. So Bobby said, `Well, what am I going to do while he sings?'
And I think Phil Spector said, `Well, you'll be walking to the bank.' So
that...

Ms. WEIL: Phil was quite confident in his abilities.

GROSS: Give us a sense of the process. When you became a songwriting team,
were you assigned which singers you would be writing for back when you were
working for Don Kirshner?

Mr. MANN: It went both ways. We could just sit and write a song or there
were assignments. The Drifters would be up, say, as a group, and everybody at
Alden Music would want to write for The Drifters. But at the same time, there
were songs we just sat down to write. Cynthia and I wrote the original--there
was an original version of "On Broadway," and I always had the concept to try
to write a Gershwinesque kind of contemporary song, and that's basically how
"On Broadway" was written or the reason for it. Again, there was no specific
artist in mind. So it happened all different ways.

GROSS: OK. Let's stick with "On Broadway" for a minute.

Mr. MANN: Sure.

GROSS: This was a big hit for The Drifters. You had nobody particular in
mind when you wrote it. Did The Drifters have the first recording of it?

Mr. MANN: Yes. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. They didn't.

Ms. WEIL: They had the first recording that was released.

Mr. MANN: Released, yeah.

Ms. WEIL: But actually, Carole and Gerry were recording a group, right?

GROSS: This is Carole King and Gerry Goffin.

Ms. WEIL: Yeah.

Mr. MANN: Yeah, but also, Phil Spector cut our original version of "On
Broadway" with, I think, The Crystals.

Ms. WEIL: Yeah.

Mr. MANN: He never completed it. As a matter of fact, I have it at home. I
should have brought it here. It would have been very interesting to hear
(unintelligible).

GROSS: Now how did that version compare to the one The Drifters did?

Mr. MANN: Melodically, it was very, very close. The opening line, in fact,
instead of, `They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway,' ours is, `They
say the neon lights are bright on Broadway.' Bright--it's very Gershwiny, you
know, kind of more of a bluesy note. And so it was changed. If I remember,
Mike Stoller suggested that we change it. And also, we didn't modulate three
times, and that was a very good suggestion. And then lyrically, there was a
different lyrical perspective. You can talk about it, Cynthia, if you want.

Ms. WEIL: Well, I think we had written it for a girl group, so it was about
a girl coming to New York and dreaming of Broadway and stardom. And it was
much more kind of escape from a small town and I'm going to make it. And when
we met with Jerry and Mike and played this for them, they said, `You know,
we're doing The Drifters so it would need a whole other perspective, and you
can go home and do it yourself or you can write it with us.' And these guys
were our idols, and we thought they were great and it would be a fantastic
opportunity to work with them, so we ended up reworking the song together.

Mr. MANN: Which was...

Ms. WEIL: And it was really--it was like going to songwriting school,
working with Jerry Leiber for me as a lyricist.

Mr. MANN: They have two very different approaches lyrically. Cynthia is much
more organized. She would want to write the first verse, make sure it's
completed, then go to the chorus and...

Ms. WEIL: Yeah, I'd stay on that second line. If I couldn't get it, I'd be
there for months, you know. I wouldn't move.

Mr. MANN: And she...

Ms. WEIL: And Jerry just kind of jumped around and showed me that you can,
you know, go different places and move things around. You don't have to be so
rigid.

Mr. MANN: It was a very exciting experience.

GROSS: Why don't we hear The Drifters' recording of "On Broadway," the song
written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Ms. WEIL and Mr. MANN: (In unison) And Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Ms. WEIL: Right.

(Soundbite of music)

THE DRIFTERS: (Singing) They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. On
Broadway. They say there's always magic in the air. On Broadway. But when
you're walking down that street and you ain't had enough to eat, the glitter
rubs right off and you're nowhere. On Broadway. They say the girls are
something else on Broadway. On Broadway. But looking at them just gives me
the blues. On Broadway. Because how you going to make some time when all you
got is one thin dime? And one thin dime won't even shine your shoes. On
Broadway. They say that I won't last too long on Broadway. On Broadway.

GROSS: Now, Barry Mann, before we heard this, you mentioned that I think it
was Leiber and Stoller suggested adding the modulations. We just heard one of
those key changes. What does that kind of key change do to the emotional
quality of a song?

Mr. MANN: Well, especially in that song, it really works, because that song
is basically one melody. It's a verse that's repeated three times. So it
would really get very boring to just do the same melody three times in the
same key. So that really uplifted the song.

GROSS: My guests are songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. We'll talk
more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guests are Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. They've been married and
a songwriting team since the early '60s. One of the types of groups that you
worked for was the girl groups. You wrote a few girl group hits, including a
couple for The Crystals, "Uptown" and "He's Sure The Boy I Love." Were there
any considerations lyrically writing for the girl groups? Was it a certain
type of lyrics, a certain type of song?

Ms. WEIL: You know, there were. Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich really were
the quintessenal girl group writers. They were really into lots of sounds,
and I was never really good at that. I somehow felt that my girls group
lyrics, except for "Walking in the Rain,"(ph) which was really adolescence,
were kind of--I was trying to be adolescent and I didn't know how very well,
and they were just a little sharper. I mean, "Uptown" certainly is not a
girls group song.

Mr. MANN: We just write a song.

Ms. WEIL: It's sung by a girls group, but that's the only thing. It was one
of the first sociological songs, and I just don't think that I was really a
good girls group songwriter.

Mr. MANN: I mean, if I could just kind of interject, when I first started
writing with Cynthia, first, she showed me some of her lyrics, and I really
liked them a lot, and what I saw in them was this--they had a show quality to
them. There was a sophistication. And I really thought that that
sophistication, combined with rock 'n' roll, would be very fresh. And I
think Cynthia always has kept that kind of sophistication, unless you really
had to go sideways, which was like "Walking in the Rain." And it was a great
combination.

GROSS: Well, "Uptown" kind of tells a story. What's the story it tells?

Ms. WEIL: Well, it really tells the story of a man who, because of his race,
is regarded one way in the workplace and then another way with his friends and
family and the woman who loves him. That song had a story to it also in that
when we had written it and Phil had recorded it, I think there were a couple
of notes that Phil had changed because the singer couldn't hit them. And we
went nuts. You know, we were so young and insane that those things really
mattered, and one note could drive both of us over the edge. And we begged
him to come in and record it again with another singer that we had found who
happened to be Carole King and Gerry Goffin's baby-sitter named Eva.

GROSS: Oh, Little Eva...

Ms. WEIL: And Little...

Mr. MANN: That's right.

GROSS: ...who did "The Loco-Motion."

Ms. WEIL: Exactly.

Mr. MANN: That's right.

Ms. WEIL: So before Little Eva did "The Loco-Motion," we dragged her into a
studio with Phil, and it was the first time she had ever been on mike, and
Phil was driving her crazy, and she didn't realize that when she was on the
mike, even if we weren't recording, you could hear what she was saying in the
control booth. And so she was ranting about hating Phil during the whole
thing. And he was enjoying it so much, and when she finished, we realized
that Phil had made the better record anyway and he really just was humoring us
to do this. It was very sweet of him to do it.

Mr. MANN: Humoring us and torturing her.

Ms. WEIL: Yes. Exactly. But then Eva, of course, went on to become Little
Eva.

GROSS: Well, let's hear The Crystals' hit version of "Uptown."

(Soundbite of music)

THE CRYSTALS: (Singing) He gets up each morning and he goes downtown, where
everyone's his boy and he's lost in an angry land. He's a little man. But
then he comes uptown each evening to my tenement, uptown where folks don't
have to pay much rent. And when he's there with me, he can see that he's
everything. Then he's tall, he don't crawl. He's a king. Downtown, he's
just one of a million guys. He don't get no breaks and he takes all they got
to give, 'cause he's got to live. But then he comes uptown where he can hold
his head up high; uptown, he knows that I'll be standing by; and when I take
his hand, there's no man who could put him down. The world is sweet, it's at
his feet when he's uptown. Whoa.

GROSS: "Uptown" written by my guests Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Was it
Phil Spector who came up with that real Latin-sounding instrumentation, the
castanets and...

Mr. MANN: Yes.

Ms. WEIL: Yes. Uh-huh. That was Phil.

GROSS: Did you have that in mind at all? Were you surprised when you heard
it?

Mr. MANN: No. We had nothing in mind, really, it just...

Ms. WEIL: You know, this is one of the few songs that we did not have the
demo on--a demonstration record in which you kind of lay out the song for the
producer with musical instruments and everything. We had played the song for
a man named Artie Ripp(ph) who was working at Alden Music as kind of a
song-plugger, and he loved it so much that he learned how to play it on the
piano himself, and he played and sang it for Phil Spector, who then just took
it and recorded it. The next thing we knew, we had a record.

Mr. MANN: Yeah. I think I did a piano-voice demo for him just to have
something to guide him.

Ms. WEIL: But there was no real concept given to Phil. This was all Phil.

GROSS: Now let me ask you about another song that you wrote, "Only In
America," and Jay & The Americans had the hit of this. I understand the
original version was actually written for The Drifters.

Mr. MANN: It was, and it was recorded by The Drifters. But then when they
brought these around to disc jockeys--the black disc jockeys, they wouldn't
play it because they felt that the lyric was a lie. You know, very
interesting, this little quick concept that we almost did, it wasn't really
serious, but we almost wrote it the opposite way, and I would have loved to
have done it, and that ...(unintelligible) was like, instead of, `Only in
America, where they preach the Golden Rule, do they start to march where my
kids try to go to school. Only in America, land of opportunity, do they save
a seat in the back of the bus just for me,' which I thought was really--it was
sort of harsh, but...

Ms. WEIL: That was the way we wanted to go, but this...

GROSS: So you wanted to go like a civil rights protest song.

Ms. WEIL: Exactly. Exactly.

Mr. MANN: Absolutely.

Ms. WEIL: And Jerry Leiber, who is the voice of reason, said...

Mr. MANN: Yes.

Ms. WEIL: ...`You'll never get this played. Don't waste your time. We have
to think positively and we have to write it from another viewpoint.'

Mr. MANN: Yeah. So basically, we wrote it from a really white viewpoint,
which was, you know, valid for, you know, someone who was white. And they
ended ...(unintelligible) by like taking that Drifters track and putting Jay
& The Americans off the track.

GROSS: So the lyric you ended up with is very kind of positive...

Mr. MANN: Yes.

GROSS: ...`Only in America, land of opportunity, can a rich girl like you
fall for a poor boy like me.'

Mr. MANN: Yeah. Yes. Yes.

GROSS: So you say that the Jay & The Americans' version had The Drifters
track...

Mr. MANN: Track.

Ms. WEIL: Well, Leiber and Stoller produced both...

Mr. MANN: Both of them.

Ms. WEIL: ...The Drifters and Jay & The Americans, so after they took The
Drifters' voices off, they put Jay & The Americans on.

GROSS: I see. How did The Drifters feel when the song was taken away from
them because it was felt that a black group really couldn't sing a song about
how great America was and be believable?

Mr. MANN: I don't...

Ms. WEIL: I don't know. We never...

Mr. MANN: No.

Ms. WEIL: ...discussed it with them, but I'm sure that they felt a sense of
hypocrisy singing the song at the time.

GROSS: OK. Well, let's hear the Jay & The Americans hit version of "Only
in America."

(Soundbite of music)

JAY & THE AMERICANS: (Singing) Only in America can a guy from anywhere go to
sleep a pauper and wake up a millionaire. Only in America can a kid without a
cent get a break and maybe grow up to be president. Only in America, land of
opportunity, yeah, would a classy girl like you fall for a poor boy like me.
Only in America can a kid who's washing cars take a giant step and reach right
up and touch the stars. Only in America...

GROSS: Songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil will be back in the second
half of the show. Barry Mann has a new CD called "Soul & Inspiration" on
which he sings some of the hit songs he co-wrote. I'm Terry Gross, and this
is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

(Credits given)

(Soundbite of music)

THE RONETTES: (Singing) I'll be certain he's my guy by the thing he likes to
do, like walking in the rain...

GROSS: That's The Ronettes singing another song co-written by Barry Mann and
Cynthia Weil. Coming up, Mann and Weil talk about surviving 40 years as a
songwriting team and as a married couple.

(Soundbite of music)

THE RONETTES: (Singing) Oh, when he's near me, I'll kiss him. And when he
leaves me, whoa-oh-oh, I'll miss him. Though sometimes we'll fight, I won't
really care, and I'll know it's going to be all right 'cause we've got so much
we share, like walking in the rain and wishing on the stars up above and being
so in love.

(Announcements)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Back with the songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. They've been
married and writing songs together since the early '60s. Their hits include
"You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling," "On Broadway," "Uptown," "He's Sure The
Boy I Love," "Only In America," "Kicks," and "We Gotta Get Out of This
Place." Now Barry Mann has a new CD on which he sings some of the hits he
co-wrote.

As songwriters in the 1960s, you first wrote for, you know, the vocal groups
of the day, like The Drifters, the girl groups, like The Crystals, you know,
heartthrobs, teen idols. And then like The Beatles came along and the whole
British invasion and started--bands started writing their own songs. And
certainly like after Dylan, singer/songwriters became really popular. You
were expected to write your own material for the most part, yet you managed to
have a British invasion hit...

Mr. MANN: Yeah.

GROSS: ...with The Animals, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," which was a
very big hit. How did you end up writing for them?

Mr. MANN: Again, we didn't write for them. We wrote that song specifically
for The Righteous Brothers, and we cut a demo that was tailored for The
Righteous Brothers.

GROSS: Oh.

Mr. MANN: And at that time, we were represented by Allen Kline(ph), who
represented a producer named Mickey Most. Mickey Most produced The
Animals. And we forgot--I even forgot that we gave Allen the song for Mickey
Most. And I had this demo that I sang on, and it was a such good demo that I
was also on Leiber(ph) and Stohler's(ph) record label, Red Bird; that the
demo was so great that we were about to put it out as a single for myself.
And just that week, we were supposed to put it out, Don Kirshner called us
up and told us that The Animals had released it and it was number two in
England at the time.

GROSS: So you didn't even know.

Mr. MANN: No. Didn't even know.

GROSS: So they killed your record, huh?

Mr. MANN: Absolutely killed my record.

Ms. WEIL: Absolutely. But not forever, because it is now on Barry's new
album.

Mr. MANN: Right.

Ms. WEIL: And it's the version that we wanted to be recorded.

Mr. MANN: That's right. Yeah.

GROSS: Now were you disappointed that your record wasn't going to be released
or really glad because another group had a really big hit with it?

Ms. WEIL: We were crushed.

Mr. MANN: Yes, especially Cynthia.

Ms. WEIL: I was really upset. The Animals had left out parts of the lyric,
and, you know, they had made a great record for The Animals and done what they
should have done for themselves, but they had, you know, changed lyric, and I
felt, you know, had compromised the song in certain ways.

GROSS: Well, what didn't they do that you had written? How did they change
the...

Ms. WEIL: Well, if you listen to Barry's version on "Soul and Inspiration,"
his album, you will hear the way it was written and you can hear the
difference.

Mr. MANN: In the lyric.

Ms. WEIL: Yeah. I mean, just play one after the other, and it's pretty
striking.

GROSS: Well, why don't we do that? Why don't we hear The Animals' version
followed by the Barry Mann version from the new CD "Soul and Inspiration" and
compare the two?

(Soundbite of The Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place")

Mr. ERIC BURDON: In this dirty old part of the city, where the sun refused to
shine, people tell me there ain't no use in tryin'. Now, my girl, you're so
young and pretty. And one thing I know is true, you'll be dead before your
time is due, I know. Watch my daddy in bed a-dyin'. Watched his hair been
turnin' grey. He's been workin' and slavin' his life away. Oh, yes, I know.

THE ANIMALS: Yeah!

Mr. BURDON: He's been workin' so hard.

THE ANIMALS: Yeah!

Mr. BURDON: I've been workin' too, baby, every night and day.

THE ANIMALS: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! We gotta get out of this place, if
it's the last thing we ever do. We gotta get out of this place.

Mr. BURDON: 'Cause, girl, there's a better life for me and you.

(Soundbite of Barry Mann's "We Gotta Get of This Place")

Mr. MANN: In this dirty part of the city, where the sun forgets to shine,
people say they're just ain't no use in trying. They're ain't no use in
trying. Whoa, girl, now you're young and, oh, so pretty. Staying here would
be a crime 'cause you just grow old before your time. Yes, you will. Girl, I
know that you will. Oh...

Mr. MANN and Unidentified Singer #1: I know it. Yeah! Yeah, I know it.
Yeah! I say, yeah.

Unidentified Singer #1: Yeah.

Mr. MANN: Yeah.

Unidentified Singer #1: Yeah.

Mr. MANN: Yeah.

Unidentified Singer #1: Yeah.

Mr. MANN: Yeah.

Mr. MANN and Unidentified Singer #1: I can't take it no more. What are we
waiting for? We've gotta get of this place, if it's the last thing we ever
do. We gotta get out of this place...

Mr. MANN: ...'cause, girl, there's a better life for me and you.

GROSS: Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, now that's been years since The Animals'
hit, and now, Barry Mann, you have this new version on your CD, "Soul and
Inspiration," which one do you prefer now? Still like the original better?

Mr. MANN: You know, it's like apples and oranges really. I like my version
only because it kind of projects the way I had originally written it. And The
Animals' version really has its, you know, charm. I want to say charm...

Ms. WEIL: I cast my vote for the Barry Mann version.

Mr. MANN: Thank you, honey. That's very nice of you. I mean, The
Animals--in truth, The Animals, look, they were like from a coal mining town,
you know...

Ms. WEIL: Yeah.

Mr. MANN: ...so that it really kind of has that kind of quality to it; a very
raw, coal mining rawness to it, that mine doesn't have, you know, but...

Ms. WEIL: Well, yours has raw Brooklyn.

Mr. MANN: Right. That's right. And you know what I'm saying? Yeah.

Ms. WEIL: Your raw from Flat Bush(ph).

Mr. MANN: That's right.

GROSS: What are some of the surprising contexts that you have heard this song
performed in?

Mr. MANN: Hmm.

Ms. WEIL: Well, that fact that it became an anthem in Vietnam was...

Mr. MANN: Right.

Ms. WEIL: ...amazing to us, and very moving. And...

Mr. MANN: We're friendly with David Kennerly. Do you know who--the
photographer, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Vietnam photojournalism. And he
told us that it was sung by lots of the GIs over there.

GROSS: My guests are songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. We'll talk
more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guests are Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

So after the British invasion and after, you know, Bob Dylan when
singer/songwriters and bands writing their own songs became really popular,
who did you write for that you weren't writing for before? I mean, what kind
of changes did you have to make in your lives as professional songwriters?

Mr. MANN: Yeah. I think the biggest change melodically that happened was
that songs became more guitar oriented as opposed to keyboard oriented.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MANN: And I had to try to think a little bit more guitary, even though
it's very difficult to do. So we did--I would sometimes come up with bass
riffs, or a guitar riff on the piano to begin songs. And an example, a matter
of fact, is "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place"--it's a bass riff that really
starts the song off. And we're--the song "Kicks," that Paul Revere and The
Raiders sang--it's a guitar oriented record. The same thing with "Hungry."
And "Kicks" also started off with a bass riff. So that was a very big change.

Ms. WEIL: But it seems to me that throughout our careers, to be completely
honest with you, every time something new happened, we were sure this was the
end. And, you know, I mean, the first end was when the British invasion
happened, and we were sure, `This is it. Our careers are over.' I remember
when disco came in, we thought it was all over. There just have been so many
times and so many fads that we thought our songs are not going to be happening
anymore. And yet, somehow we always seemed to either just keep doing what we
were doing and it came into style again, or else adapt just a little bit and
we were able to con--our careers were able to continue through the '70s and
'80s and '90s. It just--but it was not as easy as it looked because there
were plenty of times where we felt that it wasn't going to continue.

GROSS: Why don't we hear one of your hits from the '70s. And this is a Dolly
Parton recording of "Here You Come Again." Did you intend this to be a
country song?

Mr. MANN: No. No. We just wrote a song. A matter of fact, I think that
one, we had B.J. Thomas in mind, who did...

Ms. WEIL: Yeah, we did write it for B.J.

Mr. MANN: For B.J. Thomas, yeah.

GROSS: And how did Dolly Parton end up recording it?

Mr. MANN: I think one of the publishers--a publisher at the time brought it
to Dolly Parton, and she ended up recording it. In fact, I think she
recorded--I had recorded it myself. I was--I had a deal on Arista Records, as
you'll see throughout my career, I've had many record deals. I think...

Ms. WEIL: I think it--I think we once counted 13 labels and...

Mr. MANN: But anyway--and I cut--my version was really very good. It was--it
came out very, very similar to the Dolly Parton record. As a matter of fact,
Dean Parks, who was the guitar player on my record, ended up doing the
arrangement for Dolly. And so it's very, very similar.

GROSS: Well, let's hear her 1977 hit.

(Soundbite of Dolly Parton's "Here You Come Again")

Ms. DOLLY PARTON: Here you come again, just when I've begun to get myself
together. You waltz right in the door, just like you've done before, and wrap
my heart 'round your little finger. Here you come again, just when I'm about
to make it work without you. You look into my eyes and lie those pretty lies,
and pretty soon I'm wondering how I came to doubt you. All you've got to do
is smile that smile and there go all my defenses. Just leave it up to you,
and in a little while, you're messing up my mind and filling up my senses.
Here you come again, looking better than a body has a right to and shaking me
up so. And all I really know is here you come again, and here I go.

GROSS: That's Dolly Parton singing a song written by my guests Barry Mann and
Cynthia Weil.

Now, Barry Mann, you've tried to make it as a singer, but so far you've been a
huge success as a songwriter, not so huge as a singer.

Ms. WEIL: Exactly.

Mr. MANN: Right.

GROSS: However, very, very early in your career, you did have a big hit...

Mr. MANN: Yes.

GROSS: ..."Who Put The Bomp."

Mr. MANN: That's right.

GROSS: "Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp Shoo Bomp Shoo Bomp)"(ph) and that was
co-written with Gerry Goffin.

Mr. MANN: That's right.

GROSS: I guess that was before you and Cynthia Weil hooked up.

Mr. MANN: We were writing at the same time.

Ms. WEIL: Well--yeah. Yeah.

GROSS: Yeah. OK.

Mr. MANN: Yeah. At the time. Yeah. Yeah.

GROSS: OK.

Mr. MANN: But I think that song kind of kicked off the whole
sociological--the whole thing.

GROSS: It was...

Mr. MANN: Dylan really got it--was inspired by "Who Put The Bomp." You know
that, I'm sure.

GROSS: Yeah. Well, this is the kind of song that adults would make fun of,
like, `What do these lyrics mean? They don't mean anything. It's just
nonsense rhymes, this rock 'n' roll.'

Mr. MANN: See, that's some--where the adults didn't get it. I was making fun
of it. That song was a spoof on those songs.

GROSS: On songs like "Rama Lama Ding Dong."

Mr. MANN: That's right.

Ms. WEIL: Yeah. It was a satire.

Mr. MANN: Right.

Ms. WEIL: And I think, you know, the kids who bought the record took it
seriously, and the adults just thought it was dumb.

Mr. MANN: Yeah. And it became a hit.

GROSS: And did you think, `Well, now, I'm really going to make it as a
singer?'

Mr. MANN: I would have liked to--you know, it's a very hard song to follow up
on. As a matter of fact, I did follow up with a song called "Teenage Has
Been." And it was, like, again, a spoof on--I think, one of the--at the
end of the record it said, `Who'--I think, five people bought my record, my
mother, my father and my sister and my brother. I mean, it was kind of a
put-on, but, you know, it was the kind of record that--they asked me to cut an
album afterwards on--after I did "Who Put The Bomp," which I didn't want to do
because I knew I could ne--it would never sell and it would only go against
the royalties that were owed to me, and I ended up cutting an album anyway
and, of course, it didn't sell.

GROSS: Well, why don't we hear the song that did sell? This is Barry Mann
singing the song he co-wrote with Gerry Goffin, "Who Put The Bomp."

(Soundbite of "Who Put the Bomp")

Mr. MANN: I'd like to thank the guy who wrote the song that made my baby fall
in love with me. Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? Who put the
ram in the rama lama ding dong? Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Who put the dip in the dip da dip da dip? Who was that man? I'd like to
shake his hand. He made my baby fall in love with me.

Unidentified Singer #2: Yeah!

Mr. MANN: When my baby heard `Bomp bah bah bomp bah bomp bah bomp bomp,'
every word went right into her heart. And when she heard them singin', `Rama
lama lama lama rama ding dong,' she said we'd never have to part. So who put
the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?

GROSS: That was Barry Mann. And my guests are Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Well, you know, what I found interesting, like, three of the most important
women songwriters of the early rock 'n' roll era, you, Ellie Greenwich, and
Carole King, were all married to their songwriting partners. Do you feel
like...

Ms. WEIL: And we are the only ones who are still married.

GROSS: Yeah. You're the only of those three still married.

Mr. MANN: That's right.

Ms. WEIL: Yes.

GROSS: That's right. But do you think that having a male partner was
helpful--I don't mean artistically, but just in terms of getting the kind of
business respect that you needed, too, because there was a man there, so like
for somebody who might only respect a man in a business relationship, there
was a man to deal with?

Ms. WEIL: You know, I never really thought about it, but I have feeling that
if Carole and I had written something great together, we would have gotten a
great record.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MANN: Absolutely.

Ms. WEIL: We just never--when we wrote together, we were never really serious
enough to bear down and do it right. We kind of get sidetracked, but we did
get--have a few records together. And I never felt that it stood in the way
at all of getting a recording.

GROSS: So what's the secret to your marriage? Why did your marriage and
songwriting partnership last when the--your two friends, you know, ch--Carole
King and Gerry Goffin, and Ellie Greenwich and...

Mr. MANN: Jeff Barry.

GROSS: Jeff Barry, yeah. Yeah. Right.

Ms. WEIL: Yeah.

Mr. MANN: Right. Mm-hmm.

GROSS: Thank you.

Mr. MANN: That's OK.

GROSS: Why their relationships broke up?

Mr. MANN: Well--you give your...

Ms. WEIL: I have a theory. Well, I mean, I think that's a certain amount of
tenacity and stubbornness and hanging on through everything. And I also think
that our neuroses happen to match in a very good way.

Mr. MANN: That's true. I also think that underneath it, we're really
friends. And also, I really think that our songwriting is something that
holds us together. And probably most marriages--you know, people who are in
the same field probably have a lot of problems because of it, but I think it
helped our marriage a lot. It's so much in common.

GROSS: Well, you're not competing with each other in the same profession.
You're working together. You're collaborating.

Mr. MANN: Well, we also write with other--yeah, we write with other writers,
though, too, you know, at times.

Ms. WEIL: And one of Barry's greatest songs is--that's on this album is a
song he wrote with Dan Hill called "Sometimes When We Touch." And I
just--I--when it was hit, I couldn't have been happier.

Mr. MANN: Right.

Ms. WEIL: I mean, I was amazed and surprised because I thought it was too
beautiful to be a hit.

Mr. MANN: And Cynthia just last year had a number-one country song with
Martina McBride--a song called "Wrong Again." And she wrote with Lionel
Richie. She wrote "Running With The Night" with Lionel Richie, and I was
happy for her.

GROSS: What's the first real sizeable royalty check that you got? What song
was it for? And how did it make you feel?

Ms. WEIL: Well, the first hit we ever had was a song called "Bless You."
And it was recorded by then-16-year-old Tony Orlando, who was a single artist
also signed up at Aldon Music. And so that pro--I remember the first time
that I went to the bank with a check for $3,000 and thought that everybody
must have been staring at me because they'd never so much money before.

Mr. MANN: I think als...

GROSS: It--yeah, go ahead.

Mr. MANN: When it came to money, we more conscious of making a deal with our
publisher. We would make either a five-year deal and he'd give us a certain
amount of money over five years, and that's what we were conscious of. I
think our first deal was, like, $300,000 for five years, or six years or
something like it. I don't even know. But it was--I mean, basically it was
money that the publisher knew that they were going to make back anyway.

Ms. WEIL: However, I don't think we really thought a lot about money in
those early days. You know, we didn't have a family then, and it was really
just a miracle that anybody was paying us to do this in the first place, so we
were so much more involved in the songs and the artists and making the music
and getting the records and competing and just being part of things.

Mr. MANN: You know, the money was always an afterthought.

GROSS: My guests are songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. We'll talk
more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guests are Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. They've been married and a
songwriting team since the early '60s. Their hits include "You've Lost that
Lovin' Feeling," "Soul and Inspiration," "He's Sure The Boy I Love," "On
Broadway," "Only In America," and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place."

Back in the early '60s, when you started writing near the Brill Building, you
have--What?--an office in a high-rise building. And you come to work each day
and sit down in your office and write tunes.

Mr. MANN: Not always. Sometimes we would be writing at home, too.

GROSS: Yeah?

Mr. MANN: It's very half and half. Yeah.

Ms. WEIL: Yeah.

GROSS: What was your office like? Did it have, like, a typewriter and a
piano in it?

Ms. WEIL: It just had a piano and a bench and a chair.

Mr. MANN: That was it.

Ms. WEIL: And an ashtray.

Mr. MANN: Yeah. And they'd give us stale bread every once in a while.

Ms. WEIL: But, you know, the great thing about coming into write was that you
heard what everybody else was doing, because the walls were quite thin. And
so we would hear what Goffin and King were pounding out in the cubicle next to
us. And it was always inspirational and it was always--it really kind of fed
your creative hungers. And, you know, now when everybody has their own home
studio, and we're all kind of isolated, you really have to make an effort to
get that input.

GROSS: Wasn't it distracting to hear other people writing?

Mr. MANN: No.

Ms. WEIL: No, not really. You just played louder. That's all.

Mr. MANN: Right.

GROSS: Now did you ever compete with each other about whose song The Drifters
would do like, you know...

Mr. MANN: All the time. It was incredible.

Ms. WEIL: Absolutely.

Mr. MANN: Always very competitive.

Ms. WEIL: Absolutely.

Mr. MANN: And then at the same...

GROSS: And what was the process like? How would you try to get The Drifters
your song instead of letting Carole King get the next one with them?

Ms. WEIL: Well, it--we really didn't have control over that. Our publisher
would have us all writing for, for example, The Drifters. And then he would
go over and pitch all the songs.

Mr. MANN: Yeah. Who...

Ms. WEIL: That was Don Kirshner or somebody who worked for him.

Mr. MANN: Who was a great publisher. He was an incredible salesman.

Ms. WEIL: And so we would just be sitting out waiting to hear the verdict,
you know.

Mr. MANN: It got so powerful in that period. Donny did and the publishing
company that, say The Drifters were--Donny were playing the song and they
would love the song.

Ms. WEIL: And he would say, `You can only have it if my publishing company
gets the B side also.'

Mr. MANN: Yes. Right.

Ms. WEIL: You know, or `Gets the next single,' or...

Mr. MANN: And then some record companies would give into that because, you
know, they wanted...

Ms. WEIL: They wanted the song so bad.

Mr. MANN: That's right. And they knew that we were writing so prolifically
that they'd always get another good song from us.

GROSS: Now how would you feel if one of your songs ended up being the B side
of a record? On the one hand, if the record's a hit, it means you'll get
royalties for your song. On the other hand, if the deejay doesn't flip it
over, that song is never going to be a hit.

Mr. MANN: You know, I didn't think about it, but I did have a lot of B
s--even before Kirshner, I had two B side records I did very well with. I was
on the backside of the original record of "Blue Moon." Do you remember that?
`Blue moon, dop'--do you remember that crazy record?

GROSS: Yeah.

Mr. MANN: I was on the backside of that. It was a song called...

GROSS: What did you have?

Mr. MANN: It was called "Goodbye to Love."(ph) And I--you know, I've made a
little bit of money on it, you know. And then there was a record called "Here
Comes Summer" by Jerry Keller and I had the backside of that.

Ms. WEIL: But we had a really good song on the back of "Son of a Preacher
Man," the Dusty Springfield record...

Mr. MANN: Yes.

Ms. WEIL: ...a song called "Just a Little Lovin'." And Jerry Wexler, who ran
the company, said he put it there because he wasn't sure "Son of a Preacher
Man" was going to happen and he knew he could flip it. And then when "Son of
a Preacher Man" was a big hit, of course, we never got flipped. But the song
did get recorded...

Mr. MANN: Yeah.

Ms. WEIL: ...an awful lot.

Mr. MANN: Yes, a lot. Yeah.

GROSS: OK. Now, you have a couple of musicals you're working on that you
hope make it to Broadway. Tell us about those.

Ms. WEIL: One is a show based on all of these songs that have lived over the
years, our catalog of hits. And the other is an original that's based on the
movie "Mask" with Cher and Eric Stoltz. And we wrote it with Anna Hamilton
Phelan, who wrote the screenplay. And we are going to be meeting with the
director in the next couple of weeks and see if there's a meeting of the minds
and we're really excited about it.

GROSS: Well, Barry Mann, in deference for your desire to really be known as a
singer as well as a songwriter...

Mr. MANN: Right. Right.

GROSS: ...we're going to close the interview with the title track from your
recent CD "Soul and Inspiration" in which you sing a lot of the hit songs that
you have written. And so let's hear the story behind the song before we hear
the record. How did you both write "Soul and Inspiration"? And this was a
follow-up hit for your earlier song that The Righteous Brothers did, "You've
Lost that Lovin' Feeling."

Mr. MANN: Well, it wasn't the follow-up, but we started to write a follow up
to "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and we felt that it just didn't come
close to being "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and so we didn't want to
continue writing the song. And--but for some reason, I don't know, we had
played a little bit for Bill Medley and he remembered it. And we put it
aside, and then we didn't write the follow-up, but Phil ended up writing with
Carole King and Gerry Goffin. And about a year later, The Righteous Brothers
left Phil's record label and went to MGM, and Bill Medley called us up and
said, `You remember that song "Soul and Inspiration" that you were writing?
Will you please do me a favor and complete it?' I said, `No, Bill. It really
doesn't sound--it's just like a poor man's version of "You've Lost That Lovin'
Feeling."' He said, `I don't think so. I think it's a great song.' So he
convinced us to continue writing it. And we ended up writing it and they
ended up recording it, and it ended up becoming a number-one song.

GROSS: OK. Well, thank you both enormously for talking with us about your
songs.

Mr. MANN: You're welcome.

GROSS: And here's Barry Mann's recording of "Soul and Inspiration." It's the
title track from his recent CD.

(Soundbite of Barry Mann's "Soul and Inspiration")

Mr. MANN: Girl, I can't let you do this, let you walk away. Girl, how can I
live through this when you're all I wake up for each day. Baby, you're my
soul and my inspiration. You're all I got to get me by. You're my soul and
my inspiration. Without you, baby, what good am I? I never had much going
but at least I had you.

Mr. MANN and Unidentified Singer #2: How can you walk out knowing I ain't got
nothing left if you do. Baby, you're my soul and my inspiration. You're all
I got to get me by. You're my soul and my inspiration. Without you, baby...

Mr. MANN: ...what good am I? Oh, what good am I?

GROSS: Barry Mann from his CD "Soul and Inspiration." Barry Mann and Cynthia
Weil have been married and writing songs together for about 40 years.

(Credits)

GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of Barry Mann's "Soul and Inspiration")

Mr. MANN: ...for crying and for living and for dying. Baby, I can't make it
without you. Please, I'm begging ya, baby, if you go...

(Credits)

GROSS: This is NPR, National Public Radio.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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