Industrial musicals were like Broadway shows, only written and performed for corporate sales meetings or conventions. And as ridiculous as the songs were — "My bathroom, my bathroom is a private kind of place" — they were often delivered by very talented people.
Hal David, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning lyricist, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 91. David is best known for his many collaborations with composer Burt Bacharach between the late '50s and the mid-'70s.
Richard Adler, who co-wrote the musicals The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees with his partner, Jerry Ross, died Thursday at his home in Southampton, N.Y. He was 90. Fresh Air remembers the composer and lyricist with excerpts from a 1990 interview.
This interview was originally broadcast on Aug. 9, 1990.
Landesman, a songwriter and poet who wrote the words to the jazz standard "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," died on July 23. She was 83. Fresh Air remembers the iconoclastic lyricist with highlights from a 1988 interview.
Sherwood Schwartz, who created the TV sitcoms Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 94. Fresh Air remembers the TV producer and writer with excerpts from a 1988 interview.
British singer-songwriter PJ Harvey watched hours of war footage before writing the songs for her eighth album, Let England Shake. Here, she describes how she translated what she saw into a mournful elegy about the bitter brutality of combat.
Singer Margaret Whiting, who collaborated with lyricist Johnny Mercer and performed classic standards like "Moonlight in Vermont," died Monday. Fresh Air remembers Whiting with highlights from a 1988 interview, where she explained how Mercer taught her to read a lyric.
Country singer Loretta Lynn married at 13, had six children and created controversy by singing songs about divorce and the pill. Here, she talks about her decades in the music business, her relationship with her husband and a new tribute album, Coal Miner's Daughter.
The musical-theater titan tells the stories behind some of his most famous work, from West Side Story to Gypsy. And he offers some surprising criticisms of other theater greats, including his mentor Oscar Hammerstein.
Frank Loesser wrote the musicals Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying -- in addition to over 700 other songs. On today's Fresh Air, musical anthropologist Michael Feinstein discusses Loesser's musical legacy and plays some of his favorite Loesser tunes -- including several rare archival recordings.
The legendary composer and lyricist -- who collaborated on tunes like "Raindrops Keep Falin' on My Headd," "I Say a Little Prayer" and "What's New Pussycat?" -- discuss their 50-year relationship and some favorite tunes from the Broadway revival of their musical, Promises, Promises.
Lehrer, whose topical songs include "Pollution" and "The Vatican Rag," is the subject of a new multimedia release called The Tom Lehrer Collection. David Bianculli reviews the two-disc set, which includes Lehrer's greatest hits and never-before-seen concert footage.
The New York Times calls Stephen Sondheim the "greatest and perhaps best-known artist in American musical theater." Sondheim composed the music and lyrics for, among others, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Company. He joins Fresh Air to discuss his career in musical theater.
Singer, songwriter and producer T-Bone Burnett says his approach to making music is simple: "Just listen until it sounds right."
Burnett has been getting it right for a long time, and his latest project is the critically acclaimed film Crazy Heart, for which he wrote several songs for the main character — a broken-down musician played by Jeff Bridges. Bridges is not a trained singer.
Lyricist and composer Johnny Mercer -- born Nov. 18, 1909 -- wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs, including American Songbook standards like "Skylark," "That Old Black Magic" and "Come Rain or Come Shine." HIs Academy Awards tally includes a statue for what's possibly his most famous tune, "Moon River." Fresh Air marks the anniversary of his birth with an in-studio concert starring Rebecca Kilgore and Dave Frishberg.