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What The World Needs Now Is Jackie DeShannon.

DeShannon's musical career spans five decades. In the 1960s, she toured with The Beatles on the band's first U.S. tour. In the 1970s, she sang with Van Morrison, and in the '80s, she won a Grammy for writing "Bette Davis Eyes." Here, she recounts what it was like to open for The Beatles -- and how recording "What the World Needs Now" changed her career.


Other segments from the episode on June 14, 2010

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, June 14, 2010: Interview with Jackie DeShannon; Commentary on Twitter and haikus.


Fresh Air
12:00-13:00 PM
What The World Needs Now Is Jackie DeShannon


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest, Jackie DeShannon, will be inducted into the Songwriter's Hall
of Fame on Thursday. She was among the first women to write pop/rock
songs that became hit records. Most of her hits were in the '60s.

She's American but was sometimes associated with the British Invasion
because she performed as part of The Beatles' first national tour in
America and she wrote "When You Walk In the Room," which was a hit for
the British group The Searchers. Her song "The Great Imposter" was
recorded by The Fleetwoods. She had a big hit with the song she co-wrote
"Put A Little Love In Your Heart," and she had a huge hit singing a song
she did not write, "What The World Needs Now Is Love," by Burt Bacharach
and Hal David.

She landed another song on the charts in the '80s when Kim Carnes
recorded "Bette David Eyes," which DeShannon co-wrote. Her writing
partners have included Randy Newman, Jimmy Page and Jack Nitzsche. Let's
start with Jackie DeShannon's 1963 recording of her song "When You Walk
In the Room," followed by the famous 1964 cover version by The

(Soundbite of song, "When You Walk In the Room")

Ms. JACKIE DeSHANNON (Musician): (Singing) I can see a new expression on
my face. I can feel a strange sensation taking place. I can hear the
guitars playing lovely tunes every time that you walk in the room.

THE SEARCHERS (Music Group): (Singing) I close my eyes for a second and
pretend it's me you want. Meanwhile I try to act so nonchalant. I see a
summer night with a magic moon every time that you walk in the room.

GROSS: That's The Searchers singing "When You Walk in the Room," which
was written by my guest, Jackie DeShannon, and we heard her version
first. Jackie DeShannon, what a pleasure to have you on FRESH AIR, and
congratulations on your upcoming induction into the Songwriters Hall of

Now, the opening guitar line on both your version and The Searchers'
version reminds me a lot of the opening guitar line on The Beatles
"Ticket to Ride." Your song comes first, doesn't it?

Ms. DeSHANNON: It does. Thank you for saying that. It does come first. I
usually – during those days, I was very into musical hooks, and I tried
to write songs that may catch your ear musically before, you know, you
would get to the lyrics. But I do recall when I opened for The Beatles,
I first encountered Paul McCartney at the Cow Palace in San Francisco,
and I said, I'm so thrilled to meet you and so honored. I'm Jackie
DeShannon, I think I said. And he said, I know who you are. We used to
listen to all your records and all your demos. So I think that was
pretty cool.

GROSS: So did you write that opening guitar line yourself?

Ms. DeSHANNON: Yes, yes. That's what I started with first.

GROSS: Congratulations.

Ms. DeSHANNON: It's a little riff that you hear. In fact, George
Harrison, when we were touring, sat down one day on the plane and said,
you know what, show me that "When You Walk In the Room" riff. And I was
so nervous, I could hardly play it really.

GROSS: As you mentioned, you toured with The Beatles in 1964, which was
after you wrote and recorded "Every Time You Walk In the Room." And that
was their first American tour, right?

Ms. DeSHANNON: It was. They did two appearances before that, I believe,
in Washington and I think in New York. But then they came back and did
the full tour, their first American tour. And I was a very lucky girl to
be on that tour.

GROSS: How did you get to be on the tour?

Ms. DeSHANNON: I've heard tell, and I'm not 100 percent sure, but I
heard that they had requested that I — you know, they were going over
different acts to be on the tour, and I was one that they selected.

Brian Epstein, their manager at the time, was I think, you know, very
familiar with the Liberty acts on the label.

GROSS: You were on Liberty Records.

Ms. DeSHANNON: Correct. And my demos used to be, at that time, published
in England by Dick James Music, and The Beatles had several of their
songs at that time published by Dick James Music. So they, indeed, were
familiar with me. And, I don't know, just luck of the draw, I guess.

GROSS: Were you the only woman on the tour performing?

Ms. DeSHANNON: Yes. Other acts, The Righteous Brothers, they changed
many times before – and at that time, some people left because they, you
know, people were screaming, we want The Beatles, we want The Beatles.
And I said, so do I. Good. Let's all scream together. This will be

But I think some people were a little bit put off by that. But I just
did fast songs fast, and I don't know, I really loved it. I knew
everyone was there obviously to see The Beatles, but I thought it was a
great opportunity to get up and perform in front of that many people.

GROSS: So we opened with "Every Time You Walk in the Room," which you
wrote. And I want to play a song that was also recorded by The Searchers
after you recorded it, but this is not one that you wrote. This song is
"Needles and Pins," and it was written by Sonny Bono, who became famous
for Sonny and Cher and then became a congressman, and Jack Nitzsche, who
at the time was I think producing with Phil Specter.

Ms. DeSHANNON: He was not producing with Phil. Jack did the

GROSS: I mean arranging. I meant to say arranging, yes.

Ms. DeSHANNON: Right.

GROSS: Specter was doing the producing.

Ms. DeSHANNON: Well, actually, Jack was doing some of it, too, but
probably didn't get credit.

GROSS: So did they write this for you? How did you get this song?

Ms. DeSHANNON: They did write it for me. I was going into the studio to
do four sides, which is what we called back in the day a single session,
and I wasn't that thrilled with the material that they had selected for
me because A&R at that time did play a major part in what you recorded
and what didn't get on the session.

And we had – Jack and I had started working on a riff, you know, kind of
throwing ideas back and forth. And Sonny was there that day and it just
kind of all came together with a verse and the little piano lick. And I
had some – I did contribute to that song, but I did not get writing
credit at the time, and I didn't pursue it.

GROSS: What was your contribution?

Ms. DeSHANNON: Well, I think when you have three people in doing things,
the ideas just kind of go back and forth and I think probably a little
bit of the bridge and, you know, some lyrics and, you know, you just –
you don't really know what makes one song one person's unless they just
sit down and write, you know, three-fourths of it. But we were all kind
of working on it at the same time.

GROSS: Okay, so let's hear Jackie DeShannon's 1963 recording of "Needles
and Pins," which was later covered by the British band The Searchers.

(Soundbite of song, "Needles and Pins")

Ms. DeSHANNON: (Singing) I saw him today, I saw his face. It was the
face I loved, and I knew I had to run away and get down on my knees and
pray that they'd go away. But still they begin, needles and pins because
of all my pride, the tears I gotta hide.

Hey, I thought I was smart. I want his heart. I didn't think I'd do, but
now I see. She's worse to him than me. Let him go ahead, take her love
instead, and one day she will see just how to say please and get down on
his knees. Hey, that's how it begins, still feel those needles and pins,
hurting him, hurting him.

GROSS: That's Jackie DeShannon. Although she didn’t write that song, she
wrote many others and she's about to be inducted into the Songwriters
Hall of Fame.

When you recorded this, you did that famous needles and pins-uh, as
opposed to just saying needles and pins, and when The Searchers covered
it, they did the same thing. What made you pronounce it that way?

Ms. DeSHANNON: Well, again, that's just the way I heard the song, and I
think probably some of the overdubs that we did, maybe that word, you
know, landed together and maybe made it a little more pronounced.

But basically, as I say, you ask what a person contributes to a song.
There's many different ways, you know, besides just doing either the
words or the lyrics. It's interpretation. It's changing something. It's
changing words. So, I think that my stamp was pretty much on that song.

And they did. They did a very, very, very good record of "Needles and
Pins." I love it.

GROSS: My guest is Jackie DeShannon. She'll be inducted in the
Songwriters Hall of Fame on Thursday. We'll talk more after a break.
This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Jackie DeShannon, and she's about to be inducted June
17th into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Now, you were one of the first women songwriters in rock to have big
hits. Did you intend to be a songwriter when you started off in the
music business?

Ms. DeSHANNON: I started off when I was around 12, 13, writing songs
because it was very difficult to get a recording contract when I was so
young, and there were only, you know, just a few labels.

GROSS: Wait a minute, you tried to get a recording contract when you
were 12?

Ms. DeSHANNON: Twelve and 13, and of course, I didn't get one. And when
I would send my songs and send different material in – some were mine,
some were not – people would tell me, you know, the only way you're ever
going to get a good song, you have to write it because no one's going to
give you A material, which is what we're interested in.

So time went on, and I just kept writing and writing, and I finally got
a song called "I Want to Go Home," which was a breakout hit in Chicago
area and was moving across the country. And, you know, I got recognition
from various record labels out on the West Coast, and that was kind of
my big break thanks to Eddie Cochran, who I was working with doing
dances and promoting that record.

And he came into Chicago area to promote his single record at the time,
and he said wow, you look like a California girl. You have to move. You
have to get to California to make it all happen. So I said to myself,
well, if Eddie Cochran says so, I must move to California.

GROSS: So you did. So, Eddie Cochran, for our listeners who don't
remember him, was a rockabilly singer whose biggest hits were
"Summertime Blues" and "C'Mon Everybody," and...

Ms. DeSHANNON: And he was very big in England and was, you know, really
– had he lived, I think been a monster here.

GROSS: Now you ended up actually collaborating with his then-girlfriend,
Sharon Sheeley(ph).

Ms. DeSHANNON: I did. We wrote "Dum Dum" together, my first hit song,
and it was recorded by the brilliant Brenda Lee.

GROSS: And let me play something else that you wrote together, and this
is "The Great Imposter," which The Fleetwoods recorded in 1961, and it
was in the top 40. And their big hits were "Come Softly to Me" and “Mr.
Blue.” Do you want to say anything about writing "The Great Imposter"
before we hear it?

Ms. DeSHANNON: We had actually been to the movie to – we went to see
that film, and we really liked it. And we came back and we were just,
you know, fooling around, writing songs, as we did every week. And we
said, wow, this would just be a great title for a song because, you
know, there are so many guys around that are great imposters. So let's
write one about that.

GROSS: Okay, so this is "The Fleetwoods," recorded in 1961, doing "The
Great Imposter," which was written by my guest Jackie DeShannon and the
late Sharon Sheeley.

(Soundbite of song, "The Great Imposter")

THE FLEETWOODS (Music Group): (Singing) Well I went and lost her to the
great imposter. I stood and watched her fall, couldn't help her at all.
Poetry so sweet has her at his feet. She thinks she's the one, but he
has just begun. All her friends, they just watch her, for they know the
great imposter.

Don't she know he's on a stage? It's not real, it's just a play, and
he's playing the part that is soon to break her heart. Oh, can't she see
tomorrow's misery? Soon she'll learn her fate, but it’ll be too late.
All her friends, they just watch her, for they know the great imposter.

GROSS: That's The Fleetwoods, recorded in 1961, doing a song co-written
by my guest, Jackie DeShannon, who is about to get inducted into the
Songwriters Hall of Fame.

When you started songwriting, was your idea to record the songs yourself
or to get them to other people?

Ms. DeSHANNON: My idea was to record them myself and develop myself as a
singer-songwriter so that I would always have material and I wouldn't
have to, you know, be beholden to anyone for good material.

GROSS: So how did you end up with other people recording your songs?

Ms. DeSHANNON: When I signed with Liberty Records, I...

GROSS: Was that on the West Coast or the East Coast?

Ms. DeSHANNON: West Coast. And when I signed with them, they were
building their publishing company. At that time, it was known as Metric
Music. And so I signed with them as a songwriter, as well.

And as these songs started – you know, as I kept on writing for myself
to go in and record, Al Bennett(ph), who was president at the time,
would say, boy, this is a great song. This, maybe we should try to get
this song to X, Y or Z and because they have a big hit record now and
they're looking for material and, you know, you'll benefit as a
songwriter. So basically, that's really how it happened.

GROSS: Now, the famous female songwriters of the era when you were
getting started in the early '60s, outside of you, it was Ellie
Greenwich, Carole King and Cynthia Weil. And they all had male
songwriting partners.

Ms. DeSHANNON: They did. Actually, I was the only one on the West Coast
doing this, as far as going in, making my own demos. I wrote songs all
week long, and then on Fridays, I would go in and actually lay down the
track, the instruments and voices or whatever, the arrangement. I would
do the arrangement and see, you know, exactly how it would work. And
that's what we would do.

And I would do it in, you know, one song an hour. So that's pretty fast
to get everything done, teaching the musicians the songs and the singers
and putting it all together and trying to make it work in a very short
amount of time.

GROSS: What did your record company, Liberty Records, think of you as a
woman doing the arrangements? Did they give you a hard time about that?
Did they think a man should be doing it?

Ms. DeSHANNON: Not for the demos. And that was really a very tough time
for me because I was so used to doing my own work, and I knew what was
right for my song. But yet, when I would go into the studio to record,
because you were a woman, you're not allowed to have any say so
whatsoever about how it's arranged.

You can sing it to the – I could sing it to the arranger, and then they
would do it, but I really didn't have any leverage as far as producing
or being part of the arrangement.

But many times, they would just end up copying my demos and make it into
a bigger orchestration. But it was very, very hard. Of course, today,
that's all built in your contracts and you can – women, you know, do
whatever they want. But it was very, very difficult for me, and growing
up with jazz and classical music and country-blues and the different
styles of music that I grew up with within my family, I just developed a
style that kind of lumped it all together.

And I could sing many different styles, which is very popular today. So
and so will go in and sing the standards, or they'll do, you know,
something else. But at the time that I was doing it, people really
didn't understand it, and only if you had one style, if you just stayed
with that one thing, you might, the critics might, you know, understand
it. But they certainly didn't understand me, that's for sure.

GROSS: My guest is Jackie DeShannon. She'll be inducted into the
Songwriters Hall of Fame on Thursday. She'll be back in the second half
of the show. Here's her 1975 recording of a song she co-wrote, "Bette
Davis Eyes," which was a big hit for Kim Carnes in 1981.

I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of song, "Bette Davis")

Ms. DeSHANNON: (Singing) Her hair is Harlowe gold, her lips a sweet
surprise. Her hands are never cold. She's got Bette Davis eyes. She'll
turn her music on you, and you won't have to think twice. She's pure as
New York snow. She got Bette Davis eyes.

And she'll tease you, she'll unease you, all the better just to please
you. She's precocious, and she knows just what it takes to make a pro
blush. She got Greta Garbo stand-off sighs. She's got Bette Davis eyes.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross back with songwriter and
singer Jackie DeShannon. She'll be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of
Fame on Thursday. The songs she wrote include: "When You Walk in the
Room," "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and "Bette Davis Eyes."

She was the singer on the hit recording of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David
song "What the World Needs Now is Love."

What I'd like to do is play your song, "Should I Cry," which you co-
wrote with Jack Nitzsche, the arranger and songwriter. And we're going
to play two versions of this. We're going to hear your version and then
we're going to hear a version by the doo-wop group the Concords. Both of
these are from 1964.

Tell us the story behind the song and then we'll hear the recordings.

Ms. DESHANNON: Well, Jack Nitzsche and I were very very close friends
because he did a few demos with me, which is how I met him, and we just
became very very fast and close friends because we shared so many styles
of music - the love of so many different styles of music. And he was the
arranger for me because I could say anything, you know, about okay, this
sounds like this record and he really knew what I meant.

To him it wasn’t jumping all over the place. To him, he knew that I was
saying basically this is the authentic thing that we want to do in this
particular place, and we would reference, you know, various people that
we loved. So we started writing a few things together. Not a lot, but we
did do a few songs and it was really great fun. I loved working with
Jack and I really miss him because I felt that he was the one person who
really understood Jackie DeShannon.

GROSS: So, since we're going to hear both versions of the song, tell us
how the Concords, the doo-wop group, came to record it.

Ms. DESHANNON: I don’t know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Really?

Ms. DESHANNON: I don’t have that info. No. I think one thing that
happens - or happens to me, maybe not everyone else, I'm not informed. I
mean I'll find out about it but it’ll be through other artists or
through, you know, folks that I have around that are close to me and in
the business that say, oh, did you know the Concords recorded your song?
And I go wow, that's great.

But the publishing company never told me anything. So when I find out,
I'm elated. But I don’t, you know, get a thing that says well, you'll be
happy to know that the Concords have just recorded your - I was so
uninformed. But I'm thrilled.

GROSS: Well, so let's hear it. This is Jackie DeShannon singing should
"Should I Cry," which she co-wrote and then the Concords doo-wop
version, which is really great.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: It's just like, wow.

Ms. DESHANNON: It is. It is just awesome.

GROSS: Yeah. So here they are.

(Soundbite of song, "Should I Cry")

Ms. DESHANNON: (Singing) You used to hold my hand and we'd go to a show.
People know I was your girl everywhere we go. Tonight at the party I saw
how you looked at Sue. You danced with me while romance as you’re
dancing and I wonder should I cry? I wonder, should I should I cry?
Maybe it's all in my mind. Things are going to work out fine. I wonder,
wonder, wonder should I cry?

(Soundbite of song, "Should I Cry")

The CONCORDS (Doo-wop group): (Singing) Nah, nah-nah, nah-nah, nah, nah-
nah-nah-nah. I wonder, wonder, wonder should I cry? You used to hold my
hand and we'd go to a show. People know I was your guy everywhere we go.
Tonight at the party I saw how you looked at Sue. You danced with me
while romance as you’re dancing and I wonder should I cry? Wonder,
wonder, should I should I cry? Maybe it's all in my mind. Things are
going to work out fine. I wonder, wonder, wonder should I cry? Hey, hey.

Could it be that you were mine?

GROSS: The Concords doing "Should I Cry" which was written by my guest
Jackie DeShannon, along with Jack Nitzsche. And first we heard her
version of the song.

Your name - your professional name is Jackie DeShannon but your birth
name is Sharon Lee Myers.

Ms. DESHANNON: Correct.

GROSS: So how did you transition from Sharon Lee Myers to Jackie

Ms. DESHANNON: I don’t think you have enough time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DESHANNON: Well, just try to make it as short as I can. As I was
looking for a record deal and trying to come up with songs etcetera, my
voice is low and sometimes if I, you know, would do a certain song a
certain way I sound more like a boy than like a sort of a love ballad
obvious Doris Day. And the record company said well, why don’t we - this
is early on like a local label or something would say why don’t we
change your name that could be either a boy or a girl? So I said Jackie.
And so we had to have another name to go with Jackie so it was Jackie

Then there was Sandra Dee and Brenda Lee and so I figured uh-oh, I need
to put something else there. So actually, it was Jackie DeShannon and
little d-e, space, capital S-h-a-n-n-o-n. But people couldn’t - they
didn’t know how to put that together and it would get mixed up even on
the record labels. So I just decided to put the two together and make it
big D little e-S-h-a-n-n-o-n.

But really because they played more boys' songs on the radio than
girls', that's the record company’s philosophy. And so that's basically
how that got started, thinking that I might get some of that play
because they didn’t know, you know, at the beginning. Because since only
girls bought records, that was the philosophy.

GROSS: And they wanted to daydream about boys, so what use would they
have for you?

Ms. DESHANNON: Exactly. What use would they have for me? So, you know,
it's the early record business, so you can't...

GROSS: So this is before all the girl groups, I guess.

Ms. DESHANNON: Well, this is, yeah. Well, no, no, no. There were plenty
of girls' groups but they were more....

GROSS: So what were they thinking?

Ms. DESHANNON: They were - I don’t know because I wasn’t a sister and I
wasn’t, you know, the McGuire Sisters kind of thing or something. I
don’t know, people had very strange ideas.

GROSS: My guest is Jackie DeShannon. She'll be inducted into the
Songwriter's Hall of Fame on Thursday. We'll talk more after a break.
This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Jackie DeShannon and she's about to be inducted, June
17th, into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

So let's hear another song and this one - this really should've been a
hit. This is called "Splendor In The Grass." You recorded it in 1966.
The Byrds are accompanying you on this. It's a terrific song. So first
tell us the story behind the song.

Ms. DESHANNON: I was watching this movie, went to the theater to see
"Splendor In The Grass" with Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood, and I just
ended up sobbing at the end of the film. I loved it so much I just ran
home and said I'm going to write a song, "Splendor In The Grass." And
it's really dedicated to the first time. It's dedicated to that feeling
of love for the first time when you’re really deep into it. And I think
that high school love is just something so very special and your first
serious boyfriend, I just, you know, fell apart during that film and I
kind of dedicated that song to those emotions.

GROSS: And this is one you wrote yourself?

Ms. DESHANNON: Mm-hmm. Yes.

GROSS: And how did The Byrds end up accompanying you on this?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DESHANNON: I hope they're not listening. Well, The Byrds had yet to
really hit it at the time. And I would go to see them wherever they
were, wherever they played. As many times as they played I was there,
practically all the time. And I was very very supportive and tried to
help them in any way that I could. And I think that when I was going in
to record a demo session, I had certain songs like, "Don’t Doubt
Yourself, Babe," and "Splendor In The Grass."

And I said boy, this would just be so amazing if you guys, you know, had
the time to come in and just, you know, play it down once or twice for
me. It would be so cool. And to my surprise, they said yes. So it was -
the thing I remember most, it was early in the morning. And those guys,
I don’t think went to bed. They just stayed up. But it's so neat to have
them playing on these songs.

GROSS: So, let's hear it. This is "Splendor In The Grass," written and
recorded by my guest, Jackie DeShannon. The Byrds are accompanying her
and this is from 1966.

(Soundbite of song, "Splendor In The Grass")

Ms. DESHANNON AND THE BYRDS: (Singing) The first love I ever had, the
first time I went mad. The first time I left home, the first time I felt
alone. The first time my heart was hurt, the first thing I did wrong. If
I had one wish I’d ask to relieve splendor in the grass.

The first time I was ever kissed, the very first person I did miss. The
first time I said goodbye, the first time I felt I’d die. The first time
I felt shame, the first time I was to blame. If I had one wish I’d ask
to relieve splendor in the grass.

GROSS: That's my guest Jackie DeShannon, singing a song that she wrote,
"Splendor In The Grass," recorded in 1966 with the Byrds backing her up.

Was that Roger McGuinn singing with you?

Ms. DESHANNON: Yes. And David Crosby and all The Byrds.

GROSS: Oh, wow. Okay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DESHANNON: Yeah. Just a little something.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: So, when you had records to promote you were sometimes on
"Shindig!" and "Hullabaloo," the music shows of the mid-'60s where
people would be frugging behind you and...

Ms. DESHANNON: Yeah, right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: ...and you'd be frugging too.

Ms. DESHANNON: You bet. That was it.

GROSS: You'd have to like dance your way through the whole song as

Ms. DESHANNON: Through your career.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: you lip-synched.


GROSS: So, and...

Ms. DESHANNON: But that was very fashionable.

GROSS: What, the lip-synching thing or the frugging thing?

Ms. DESHANNON: No, no, no. No, the dancing and the - they're still doing
lip-synch today.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Right.

Ms. DESHANNON: Yeah, that was sort of the thing to do in the day.

GROSS: Well, I was watching, you know, if you want a see - there's a
couple of great YouTube clips if you want to see Jackie DeShannon
frugging on those shows.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: But there's also a nice clip from the Whiskey A Go Go that's from
just a few years ago and in that one you’re playing guitar. And I was
wondering like, would you have preferred back in the "Shindig!" and
"Hullabaloo" era to have been playing guitar accompanying yourself
rather than frugging?

Ms. DESHANNON: I'm so glad you asked that. Again, that goes back to: you
have to do what I say. If you want to be on this TV show, you do it the
way I want it done. I was never allowed to do that. Unheard of.

GROSS: Because you’re a female?

Ms. DESHANNON: It just - they just - this is what - this is the kind of
show they wanted. They wanted something that - they didn’t want someone
sitting there - a girl playing the guitar on the thing. This was, you
know, what they wanted. Whoever produced the show, you know, this is
something that they thought would be better for their program.

GROSS: So did you have to work up your frugging skills before doing
those shows?

Ms. DESHANNON: I, you know, there was always a part of me that was
disappointed that that's the way it had to be. There's still a part of
me today that's disappointed, because I sometimes feel that I wish the
images would be different in the sense that I would like to see - I
would like to see it more popular that it was take - I don’t know.
There's just something about the way certain women present themselves
that I'm not as comfortable with.

GROSS: So you’re about to get inducted into the Songwriters Hall of
Fame. But one of your most famous recordings is a song that you did not
write. It was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and I'm thinking
of "What The World Needs Now," which has probably been recorded all
around the world. So how did you get to be the one sang the song,
especially considering how associated Dionne Warwick was with Bacharach
and David?

Ms. DESHANNON: Well, I was told that she turned it down and did not
record it. I don’t know if she made demo of it or whatever, but I was
told that, you know, she didn’t do a real record of it. I got it under
protest from Burt. Actually, we...

GROSS: Burt was protesting you getting it, is that what you’re saying?

Ms. DESHANNON: No, no, no. Burt was protesting playing the song for me.
I was told that Burt Bacharach and Hal David wanted to produce a record
with me and I was just over the moon and delighted and excited. So it
came time to pick the material and he played a few songs and then Hal
David kept saying, oh, gee, play Jackie "What The World Needs Now" and
Burt was going, well, I don’t know, da-da.

So this went back and forth for a while and finally he did play "What
The World Needs Now Is Love" and I sang it through after I learned it
and he just flipped and said, that's it, we're going to New York. This
is the record.

GROSS: Did you like the song?

Ms. DESHANNON: Oh, of course. Cornfields and wheat fields, that's where
I grew up. So it was - and the changes and - are very, to me, remind me
so much of gospel. So between the lyrics and the music it was, I felt I
was home free.

GROSS: Well, let's hear it. This is 1965 recording of my guest Jackie
DeShannon singing the Bacharach and David song "What The World Needs

(Soundbite of song, "What The World Needs Now")

Ms. DESHANNON: (Singing) What the world needs now is love sweet love.
It's the only thing that there's just too little of. What the world
needs now is love sweet love, no not just for some but for everyone.

Lord we don't need another mountain. There are mountains and hillsides
enough to climb. There are oceans and rivers enough to cross. Enough to
last until the end of time.

What the world needs now is love sweet love. It's the only thing that
there's just too little of. What the world needs now is love sweet love,
no not just for some but for everyone.

GROSS: That's Jackie DeShannon singing the Burt Bacharach/Hal David
song, recorded in 1965. The arrangement on that is so good. It must've
been great to sing with that kind of arrangement. But I'm wondering, was
that arrangement behind you when you actually recorded your vocal track
in the studio?

Ms. DESHANNON: It certainly was. I'm very proud to say there are no
punch-ins. There is...

GROSS: That was all real time with the orchestra and you at the same

Ms. DESHANNON: Real time. And it was the second take.


Ms. DESHANNON: The singers, the background, everything, orchestra.

GROSS: So what impact did this song have on your career?

Ms. DESHANNON: It brought me to the forefront. It was a big record, so I
think people just - and to this day love that record. In fact, it’s in
the Narris(ph) Hall of Fame - that, my record. I'm very proud of that.
People just loved it. You know, they loved the record. They loved the
song, they loved the vocal, they loved the arrangement, everything.

GROSS: What kind of advice, if any, did Burt Bacharach give you on
singing the song?

Ms. DESHANNON: To sing the notes. Sometimes people will take liberties
with the melody and Burt was very determined to have the exact notes
that he had written sung.

GROSS: Did you have any objection to that?

Ms. DESHANNON: Not at all. I learned a lot.

GROSS: Jackie DeShannon, thank you so much for talking with us. Thank
you for your great music, and congratulations on being inducted into the
Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Ms. DESHANNON: Thank you very much.

GROSS: Jackie DeShannon will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of
Fame on Thursday. You can listen to Jackie DeShannon sing "Needles and
Pins" and "When You Walk In The Room" on our website,
Fresh Air
12:00-13:00 PM
Haiku Takes To Twitter, 140 Characters At A Time

(Soundbite of music)


Twitter isn't just a medium for exchanging URL's and shopping tips or
telling your friends what you had for lunch. As our linguist Geoff
Nunberg observes, it's also given rise to an outpouring of haiku.

GEOFF NUNBERG: Sun Microsystems' Jonathan Schwartz was a thoroughly
modern CEO — the first to have a blog. So when he resigned recently
after the company was acquired by Oracle, he didn't simply tweet the
news. He put it in the form of a haiku: Financial crisis / Stalled too
many customers/ CEO no more.

Schwartz had both thumbs on the pulse of the medium. Haiku are like
amaryllis: They thrive in close quarters. And with its 140-character
limit, Twitter is blooming with haiku — or twaiku, as some call them.
There are Twitter feeds for NASCAR haiku, cat haiku, zombie haiku and

There are haiku competitions and campaigns. Jimmy Kimmel offered tickets
to his show to whoever tweeted in the best haiku about the final episode
of "Lost." The British Rail Company asked passengers to tweet their
haiku on the theme of the London summer, a topic that's nicely suited to
a poem of three short lines.

And after Glenn Beck said recently that churches were using the phrase
social justice as a code for Nazism and communism, the organization
Jewish Funds for Justice urged supporters to flood Beck's Twitter
account with haiku’s of protest. Sarah Silverman offered this response:
Churches and their code / It's like when they say bless you / And yet no
one sneezed.

Of course, people were writing haiku in English long before Twitter came
on the scene. In 1914, Ezra Pound made the haiku the model for his
famous 14-word poem "In a Station of the Metro." The apparition of these
faces in the crowd / Petals on a wet, black bough.

Ever since then, serious poets have been trying to adapt the features of
the haiku to English — its economy, its chiseled syntax, and its
juxtapositions of images. But not many have paid attention to the idea
that a haiku should have exactly 17 syllables. In fact, Japanese haiku
can have fewer than that, depending on the length of the vowels.

But the haiku on Twitter don't often reveal a debt to Pound or Kerouac
or Robert Hass, much less to Basho. For most people, the appeal of the
haiku is precisely that it isn't weighted by tradition, so that you can
take it wherever you like.

Most are humorous and satirical, but they can also be lyrical, wistful,
or serene. In the paint-by-numbers version of the form that most of us
learned, there's really only one absolute constraint: that very rule of
17 that poets tend to disregard. That's what makes haiku so easy to
write. You don't have to worry about rhyme or alliteration or meter. You
can put the stresses and breaks anywhere, as long as the syllable count
comes in on target. First you tick off five, then seven, and then five
more — hey, there goes one now.

It's only when you look at the outpouring of haiku on Twitter that you
realize how pervasive they've become. They've completely filled the
cultural space that was once occupied by light verse. Not that you can't
find people posting that on Twitter, too. If you make strategic use of
abbreviations, you can get a limerick down to exactly 140 characters,
what people call a perfect twoosh.

But compared to the flood of haiku, the light verse is just a trickle.
It's a specialized taste these days — it survives in the crannies of
culture, alongside of charades and jigsaw puzzles. It's become a kind of
fusty shtick — it conjures up the voices of Carl Kasell and Charles Osgood.

There are still skillful practitioners like Calvin Trillin in "The
Nation," but to judge from the verse that shows up on websites and
Twitter, most people don't have the hang of writing it, not even the
poets and professors. But that was inevitable once we lost our feel for
the traditional rhythms that light verse has always drawn on. There was
a young lady from Spain. Ta-tum-ta-ta-tum-ta-ta-tum. The anapestic
cadences of the limerick are the same ones children used to learn from
reciting Browning, Scott and Tennyson: Oh well for the fisherman's boy /
That he shouts with his sister at play.

But children aren't steeped in those poems anymore. The only anapestic
poems that everyone still knows are "The Night Before Christmas" and
"Horton Hatches the Egg." Well, those and "The Star-Spangled Banner."

I feel very wistful about this. I grew up listening to my dad read the
poems of Peter DeVries, E.B. White, and Phyllis McGinley that appeared
in The New Yorker every week, before the editors decided that light
verse was beneath the magazine's dignity.

But that eclipse was first set in motion long ago when poetry and verse
went their separate ways with the advent of modernism. Actually, at just
about the time Pound was discovering the haiku. And if the reams of
haiku on Twitter aren't exactly verse, they're still poetry — people
making their thoughts conform to a fixed formal pattern. And every now
and then, you run into a haiku where someone's come up with an ingenious
or surprising way to work that union of meaning and form.

Just like light verse, that is, the haiku gives you a chance to be
clever. That's a dismissive word to use for a serious poem, but it's the
highest tribute you can pay to a playful one.

GROSS: Geoff Nunberg is a linguist who teaches at the School of
Information at the University of California at Berkeley.

You can find links to every Twitter feed Geoff mentioned on our website,, where you can also add your own haiku to the comment
section of our website.

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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