In writing I search for believability, simplicity, and emotional impact. Believability is the easiest of the three to accomplish. One thing a lyricist must learn is not to fall in love with his own lines. Once you learn that, you can walk away from the lyric and look at it with a reasonable degree of objectivity. Often I discard a good line because it is inconsistent with the basic idea. If the line happens to be witty or sad in a particularly fresh way it hurts me to take it out. But that’s part of the pain of writing.
Simplicity is much harder to achieve. It is easy to be simple and bad. Being simple and good is very difficult. The sophisticated Cole Porter, the earthy Irving Berlin, the poetic Oscar Hammerstein, and the witty Lorenz Hart all have one thing in common - simplicity, the kind that is good. I must also mention a special favorite of mine, Johnny Mercer. Whether he is being poetic or humorous, he is never complicated. I seek this elusive thing called simplicity always. I hope I sometimes achieve it.
Above all, I try to create an emotion to which others can respond. Unless I can create an emotion to which I can respond, I throw the lyric away. Although I cannot know how others will react, I assume that if it moves me it may do the same for them. Sometimes I am right, sometimes I am wrong.
His Greatest Musical Moments
21. Magic Moments, recorded by Perry Como
“The telephone call that tied up the line for hours and hours
The Saturday dance I got up the nerve to send you some flowers”
20. To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before, recorded by Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias
“To all the girls who shared my life
Who now are someone else’s wives
I’m glad they came along
I dedicate this song
To all the girls I’ve loved before”
19. The Story Of My Life, recorded by Marty Robbins
“The sorrow when our love was breaking up
The memory of a broken heart
Then later on the joy of making up
Never, never more to part”
18. This Guy’s In Love with You, recorded by Herb Alpert
“I need your love
I want your love
Say you’re in love, in love
With this guy
If not I’ll just die”
17. Sea Of Heartbreak, recorded by Johnny Cash
“This sea of heartbreak, lost love an’ loneliness;
Memories of your caress, so divine.
How I wish you were mine again, my dear.
I am on this sea of tears,
Sea of heartbreak.”
16. Alfie, recorded by Cher
“I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you’ll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.”
15. One Less Bell To Answer, recorded by Fifth Dimension
“One less bell to answer
One less egg to fry
One less man to pick up after
I should be happy
But all I do is cry”
14. Do You Know The Way To San Jose, recorded by Dionne Warwick
“L.A. is a great big freeway.
Put a hundred down and buy a car.
In a week, maybe two, they’ll make you a star
Weeks turn into years. how quck they pass
And all the stars that never were
Are parking cars and pumping gas.”
13. Anyone Who Had A Heart, recorded by Cilla Black
“Anyone who had a heart
Would take me in his arms and love me too
You couldn’t really have a heart
And hurt me like you hurt me
And be so untrue
What am I to do?”
12. Broken Hearted Melody, recorded by Sarah Vaughan
“Broken hearted melody
Must you keep reminding me
Of the lips I long to kiss
And the love I miss
Since he went away?”
11. What’s New Pussycat, recorded by Tom Jones
“You’re so thrilling
And I’m so willing
To care for you.
So go and make up your cute little pussycat face!”
10. Don’t Make Me Over, recorded by Dionne Warwick
“Don’t pick on the things I say, the things I do
Just love me with all my faults, that way that I love you
I’m begging you”
9. The Look of Love, recorded by Dusty Springfield
“Let this be just the start
Of so many nights like this
Let’s take a lover’s vow
And then seal it with a kiss”
8. A House Is Not A Home, recorded by Luther Vandross
“Turn this house into a home
When I climb the stairs and turn the key
Oh, please be there
Sayin’ that you’re still in love with me”
7. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, recorded by Elvis Costello
“What do you get when you kiss a girl
You get enough germs to catch pneumonia
After you do, she’ll never phone you
I’ll never fall in love again”
6. Walk On By, recorded by Dionne Warwick
“I just can’t get over losin’ you
And so if I seem, broken and blue
Walk on by, walk on by.”
5. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, recorded by B.J. Thomas
“The blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me
It won’t be long till happiness steps up to greet me”
4. Always Something There to Remind Me, recorded by Naked Eyes
3. (They Long To Be) Close To You, The Carpenters
“Why do stars fall down from the sky
Every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you”
2. I Say A Little Prayer For You, recorded by Aretha Franklin
“At work I just take time
And all through my coffee break time,
I say a little prayer for you.”
1. What The World Needs Now Is Love, recorded by Jackie DeShannon
“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 till the end of time.”
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