Skip to main content

I Write the Songs Part 2

I Write the Songs, Part 2

Here are the next batch of songwriters. Many are paired with their most frequent collaborators. As I said I am limiting my list to the people known primarily as songwriters but many were capable performers as well.

Felice Bryant (August 7, 1925 – April 22, 2003) and Boudleaux Bryant (February 13, 1920 – June 25, 1987).

This couple were both talented in many ways as Boudleaux (Diadorius Boudleaux) was a classic violinist and Felice (Matilda Genevieve) played piano, sang and directed shows for the American Troops with the USO. When they met in 1945 they eloped after two days together and remained married until Boudleaux's death in 1987. While they would both write independently, together they produced hits songs for The Everly Brothers; "Bye Bye Love", "Wake Up Little Susie", "Take a Message to Mary" and "Poor Jenny" to name a few.

Also; "Raining in My Heart" Buddy Holly, the song "Hole in My Pocket
not to be confused with "There's a Hole in My Bucket" was sung by Little Jimmy Dickens (1958) and later Ricky Van Shelton would have a hit with it in 1989. Other artists would record their songs such as 'The Osborne Brothers' with "Rocky Top" and "Come Live with Me" which was Roy Clark's only #1 song.

Dave Bartholomew (December 24, 1918 – June 23, 2019) was the long time collaborator with Fats Domino (February 26, 1928 – October 24, 2017) and while he was an accomplished musician his mark on music history comes from the many great songs he wrote. Of the dozens there are some standouts such as "The Fat Man" (1950), "Ain't That a Shame" (1955), "I'm Walkin'"(1956), "Walking to New Orleans" (1960) and he wrote and originally recorded "My Ding-a-Ling" (1952) which was Chuck Berry's only #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.

Otis Blackwell (February 16, 1931 – May 6, 2002) grew up in New York City and at age 21 as a singer and piano player he won a talent contest at the Apollo Theatre. This set him on a course for a legitimate career in music and he turned almost fulltime to his gift of songwriting which has given us such songs as his first hit with "Fever" written with Eddie Cooley, recorded by Little Willie John in 1956 who topped the R&B charts and went to #24 on Billboard's Hot 100. Here is a sampling of songs he would write: Jerry Lee Lewis; "Great Balls Of Fire" (with Jack Hammer) and "Breathless". For Elvis Presley; "Don't be Cruel" and "All Shook Up" both hit #1 and "Return to Sender" (#2). He wrote "Handy Man" with Jimmy Jones who released it in 1959, James Taylor won a Grammy Award in 1978.

Doc Pomus (Jerome Solon Felder, June 27, 1925 – March 14, 1991) and Mort Shuman (12 November 1938 – 2 November 1991) these two teamed up for some classic R&R with "A Teenager in Love" by Dion and the Belmonts (1959), "This Magic Moment" and "Save the Last Dance for Me" by the Drifters (1960), "Suspicion" (1961) and "Viva Las Vegas" (1964) by Elvis Presley.

Lyricist Hal David (May 25, 1921 – September 1, 2012) often teamed up at the famed Brill Building with composer and performer Burt Bacharach (born May 12, 1928). Together they produced some of the most memorable songs of our time; "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" from 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid', "I Say a Little Prayer" just one among the many hits by Dionne Warwick, "This Guy's in Love with You" by Herb Alpert, "(They Long to Be) Close to You" by The Carpenters, "What the World Needs Now Is Love" by Jackie DeShannon, "Only Love Can Break a Heart" by Gene Pitney, "Wishin' and Hopin'" by Dusty Springfield, "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones, and "Blue on Blue" by Bobby Vinton and many more.

Burt Berns (November 8, 1929 – December 30, 1967) in my opinion let his relationship with organized crime go way too far and he used that to intimidate others in the music business. However he did write and co-write some amazing songs; "Twist and Shout" (with Phil Medley) by The Top Notes/Isley Brothers/The Beatles, "Piece of My Heart" (with Jerry Ragovoy) originally by Aretha's older sister Erma Franklin/Big Brother and the Holding Company, "Hang on Sloopy" (with Wes Farrell) by the Vibrations/McCoys, "Tell Him" by the Exciters and "I Want Candy" with co-writers Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer (who also wrote "My Boyfriends Back") performed the song themselves as 'The Strangeloves'.

Barry Mann (born February 9, 1939) and Cynthia Weil (born October 18, 1940) were another of the married couples from The Brill Building. While they wrote many songs with other writers, together they made magic happen with; "Blame It on the Bossa Nova" by Eydie Gormé, "Walking in the Rain" (with Phil Spector) by The Ronettes, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (Phil Spector) and "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration" by the Righteous Brothers, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" by The Animals, "Here You Come Again" by B.J. Thomas/Dolly Parton and "Somewhere Out There" (with James Horner) by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram and so many others.


David Porter was born November 21, 1941 and he teamed up with the multi talented recording artist Isaac Hayes (August 20, 1942 – August 10, 2008) and they are responsible for creating "The Stax Sound" during their collaboration at Stax Records in Memphis. They wrote; "Soul Man", "Hold On, I'm Comin'" and others for Sam and Dave, "B-A-B-Y" by Carla Thomas/Rachel Sweet and "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)" by Mable John/Lou Rawls/Bonnie Raitt.

Dan Penn (November 16, 1941) who is a capable recording artist has written and co-written many great songs such as; "I'm Your Puppet" (with Spooner Oldham) by James & Bobby Purify, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (with Chips Moman) by Aretha Franklin, "Cry Like a Baby" (Spooner Oldham) by The Box Tops, "The Dark End of the Street" by James Carr/Aretha Franklin/Linda Ronstadt and "A Woman Left Lonely" by Janis Joplin. 

Norman Whitfield (May 12, 1940 – September 16, 2008) was one of the creators of the Motown sound and wrote and co-wrote some fantastic music; one of my favorites "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (with Eddie Holland) by The Temptations, "Car Wash" by Rose Royce and many great collaborations with Barrett Strong who sang "Money (That's What I Want)" such as "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" by The Undisputed Truth/The Temptations, , "War" by The Temptations/Edwin Starr, and "Smiling Faces Sometimes" The Temptations/The Undisputed Truth.

Speaking of Eddie Holland (born October 30, 1939) and Motown he along with Lamont Dozier (born June 16, 1941) and his brother Brian Holland (born February 15, 1941) were a triple threat.

They have written some of the greatest Pop/Soul/ R&B songs of all time. "Heat Wave" Martha and the Vandellas/Linda Ronstadt, "Can I Get a Witness" by Marvin Gaye/The Rolling Stones/Lee Michaels, "Where Did Our Love Go", "Baby Love" and "Stop! In the Name of Love" by The Supremes, "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" by the Four Tops, "Give Me Just a Little More Time" (with Ron Dunbar) by Chairmen of the Board, "Band of Gold" also with Dunbar recorded by Freda Payne. And the list goes on.

Jimmy Webb (born August 15, 1946) really knows how to paint a picture with his songs. "Wichita Lineman" is such an evocative song, of course recorded by Glen Campbell who also did other Webb songs,"Galveston" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" first recorded by Johnny Rivers. The song "Worst That Could Happen" was written about a relationship Webb had with a woman named Susan, it was originally recorded by the 5th Dimension ("Up, Up and Away" also written by Webb) but it later became a hit for Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge in 1969. While he is a recording artist he is still much better known for his songwriting like "MacArthur Park" first recorded by actor Richard Harris (#2 in 1968) and covered for a 1969 Grammy win by Waylon Jennings and then a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit by Donna Summers in 1978.

Trivia! Boudleaux Bryant would write "All I Have to Do Is Dream" about his wife Matilda whom he nicknamed 'Felice'. It would hit #1 for the Everly Brothers in 1958 and feature the great Chet Atkins on guitar. It's the only song to be #1 on these four charts 
simultaneously; including the two 'singles charts' of the day (Most Played by Jockeys and Most Played in Jukeboxes) as well as the R&B and Country Charts. 


If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it's not tracking in terms of anyone's identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB or other social media. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!


Popular posts from this blog

One Hit Wonders (not!)

One Hit Wonders (not!)

Yesterday (Sept. 26) was the 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road, the Beatles last recording session together and the second last album before Let it Be was issued May 8, 1970. And also Happy belated One Hit Wonder Day! (Sept. 25th) so I thought it would make a good blog topic.

The simplest definition I found is from music journalist Wayne Jancik "an act that has won a position on a national, pop, Top 40 record chart just once." This from the 'The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders' (1998). So we aren't talking one #1 hit. It's not a term I like as it implies (and some truth to that) these artists have had just a brief moment in the spotlight, perhaps undeservedly so and then fallen off the music map. I know other and deeper definitions are a bit more broad and go beyond the absolute single hit idea. They also consider many artists that have still maintained a quality career and just not reproduced another 'top 40 hit' song and or ma…

Old Country New Country

Old Country/New Country

What exactly I am about to attempt to demonstrate I confess I'm not 100% certain, but what I do know is that there has been a bit of a downward sliding scale regarding the enduring quality of mainstream Country Music songs. Apologies in advance for rambling and ranting at various points. This is not a history of Country Music but my opinion on the current state of things in general with the genre.

It's murky waters that I'm swimming in here as there is an evolution involved in any music genre so direct comparisons are perhaps inappropriate. I am somewhat aware of the influence the so called Country Music "establishment" has had on this evolution. One need only look at examples like Taylor Swift, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks and others who were criticized and in some cases "shunned" for their unconventional approaches who are now celebrated as part of that same 'establishment'. So there is some hypocrisy at play in my op…

Sweet Soul Music

Sweet Soul Music

Arthur Conley co-wrote this song with Otis Redding and it's a tribute to some of the early greats of Soul Music. The song's melody (and words for that matter) borrowed heavily from the Sam Cooke song "Yeah Man" and a subsequent lawsuit brought by A.W. Alexander who managed Cooke's songs after his untimely death added his name to the song credits. The resulting song however was a huge hit for Conley and it reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B Chart in 1967 and #7 in the UK where Soul Music was gaining popularity particularly amongst a subset of British youth. The lyrics reference the co-writer Otis Redding, James Brown and songs by The Miracles, Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett, some of the key figures in early Soul Music. "Sweet Soul Music" covered 30 times, The Jam (1977).

Soul music is a fusion of R&B, Gospel and Jazz. Known generally for it's more upbeat tempo it's fun to listen to and great for …

Rock artists sing the Blues

Rock artists sing the Blues

I have talked about this frequently throughout my posts but more particularly in the series on the Delta Blues and the History of R&R parts 1-4. Truth be told, most of the greatests 'Rock' artists owe much of their inspiration to the Blues. Rock bands and solo artists have cut many sides early and throughout their careers of blues songs. Thanks to artists like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley who were obviously very well known and successful, their covers of some of the great blues songs served as a conduit and exposed them to artists and listeners alike. Here are some 'Blues' that inspired Rock artists, a few of these songs are more well known than others.

Confessin' the Blues by The Rolling Stones was recorded  June 11, 1964 and released on a 7" record of five songs on August 14. Written by Walter Brown (vocals) and Jay McShann (piano and bandleader) originally released in June of 1941. Covered about 35 times including Chuck Berr…

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #76-100

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #76-100
Ok here is the last of my list, I could go on and as a matter of fact I will, just not with another set of 25 plus "to infinity and beyond!" I have to say it was easy to come up with more songs to complete the total of 100 as this final list started at 43. But it was very difficult to decide which ones would make the final cut, so these last 25 songs became a list with a number of great ones left for another day.

76. "Flip Flop and Fly" is a song by the same collection that brought us the classic "Shake Rattle and Roll" written by Jesse Stone (credited to his pseudonym Charles E. Calhoun) and Lou Willie Turner, sung by Big Joe Turner (1955). The first time I heard this was at a club in my hometown I'll say around 1979 or so, performed by the talented Canadian Blues band Downchild Blues Band, later known as just 'Downchild'. Still the best cover for me although I've heard many fine ones out of some over …

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75
There has been a very positive response to the first two 'Greatest' posts. So the list continues and the songs become no less in their timeless quality compared to numbers one through fifty. I will post a #76-100 edition in the near future and that will be out of my system. But what if I do more lists by genre? Just thinking out loud, sorry but I will keep blogging on various topics as long as people continue to click.

51. "I Put a Spell on You" written and originally recorded by Screamin' Jay Hawkins in 1956. There have been many really good covers of this song but Nina Simone (1965) was just the second person to cover this song. I just can't get over how overlooked this artist was in her time, a high class version that turns the song on it's ear to give it an entirely different sound.

52. "Strange Fruit" was a courageous recording by the legendary Billie Holiday from 1939. A song written as a poem by anot…

Music Myths and other Silly Things

Music Myths and other Silly Things
Who doesn't like a good story? There are many great ones and some not so much about music. I try and put a little story into my blogs and during the course of my research I have run across some that are quite curious. Some of these myths about songs and artists have innocent enough beginnings and have been perpetuated or at least not denied by the artists themselves, others come from malcontents and the misinformed.

Here is one that falls in the category of a silly thing; Bob Dylan and the 'Stealers Wheel' song "Stuck in the Middle with You", released in April, 1973.

1. Bob Dylan did not write this nor did he sing this song, nor is this song about Bob Dylan.

2. If you do a search for 'Dylan and Stuck in the Middle" you will get results like the following:
Home » Artists » Bob Dylan » Stuck In The Middle With YouBob Dylan - "Stuck In The Middle With You" lyricsBob Dylan: CD's Sheet Music Tablature, Stuck in …

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #1-25

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs

Nothing quite grabs the attention more than a list of the greatest this or that, so at 85 posts about cover songs I thought it about time to get to it. As I advised with my other 'Greatest' posts we all have our favorites so anytime there is a list, something or someone 'great' gets left off. And the debate ensues, why is this and that at #11 not #4 and vise versa. My list therefore, shall be no different for it is not scientific but subjective and it is biased by my own tastes and exposure to music. Having said that it's hard for me to have missed many of the truly great cover songs of all time, indeed I think I've talked about quite a few:

"Respect" from the writer and original recording Otis Redding and a cover she made her own, the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. More about the song and Aretha in these posts. Before I get to some cover's I've not mentioned, here are more songs from my previous issues that are …

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt

Just recently I watched "Linda Ronstadt, The Sound of My Voice" on CNN and I don't mind saying I was moved to tears more than once. Narrated by Linda herself and including rare footage and photo's in addition to some great interviews, it paints a wonderful picture of a remarkable career. If you get the chance you really should watch it, but for now a mini bio and then to some of her music from that amazing voice.

Linda was born on July 15, 1946 and grew up on a ranch in Tucson Arizona in a prosperous family. Music was a very important part of daily life so her exposure and interest came very naturally. She began her career in the mid sixties joining the growing country/folk rock scene. Ronstadt met Bobby Kimmel at the University of Arizona and later met Kenny Edwards and they formed the band the 'Stone Poneys'. She would release some solo material starting in 1969 and then tour with Jackson Brown, Neil Young and the Doors. She began having hug…



When talking about the band I have to confess I'm out of my depth so I will tread lightly. We should however get right to their beginnings and major influence, that being the 'Talking Heads' and their namesake song "Radio Head". The band had been called 'On a Friday' but their record label requested they change it before signing a contract (with EMI records) in 1991.
Radiohead are one of the most successful and influential Rock bands since their debut album "Pablo Honey' (Jerky Boys) in February of 1993. All their songs are credited to the entire band Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway and Thom Yorke. And there's the 'sixth member' producer Nigel Godrich who's done all their albums since 1994. Their song "Creep" charted top 40 across the world and it's depressing tone eventually wore the band down to the point they stopped playing it live for a long period of time. The songs melo…