I had the opportunity to see Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s spectacular revival of Promises, Promises a few months ago in New York. It brought back so many vivid memories of my first summer in Los Angeles, when I saw the production during its initial run. I recall being in Century City, driving up to the Schubert Theatre in my songwriting partner, Tom Shapiro’s battered mid-60’s sedan and having the valet service whisk the car away in lightening speed, saving their arriving guests an unseemly experience. Then I recall entering this magical place as the lights dimmed and the fabulous overture began and being transformed by the songs. Moving ahead in time many years, the magic is still there and those songs are still as fresh as they were then.
I know that there are those of you in your first summers, with your dreams and aspirations alive and their realization still ahead of you. If you are like me, writing’s not really a choice; it’s a passion that can only be satiated by your creative out pouring. Whether it is film, television, video games, theatre, commercials, trailers, or any variation thereof, our profession is rich in opportunity; you’ve only got to tap into it. I’ve welcomed countless SCL mentor students to attend my recording sessions at Capitol Studios over the past years and many of them have begun successful careers in our business, and others will in short order no doubt.
I think a real catalyst to success, however subliminal it may be, is having the chance to be in the company of some of the true legendary icons of our profession. Being able to mix with the likes of a Hal David, is part of the joy of the Society of Composers and Lyricists. This year’s Oscar reception reminded me of the value of having an organization that acknowledges the best work in our field and gives us the opportunity to celebrate with writers that have had such a great impact on our musical community and turned their dreams into reality. This year’s nominees were among the finest in our profession. Hearing friends and luminaries such as James Horner, Marco Beltrami, Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, Randy Newman, Maury Yestin, T Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham, Buck Sanders, Reinhardt Wagner, and Frank Thomas was an inspiration. I am particularly proud of all that Michael Giacchino has achieved this last year. His reverence for those who have come before is one of the real tenets of this organization. As I stood on the podium at the home of our advisory board member, John Cacavas and his lovely wife Bonnie, I reflected on the years before, having joined with Arthur Hamilton, Charles Bernstein, Richard Sherman, John Williams, Anthony Lloyd Webber, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, David Raksin, Ennio Morricone, Ray Evans and countless others to celebrate the profession that truly adds an element that no other craft in the film making process can.
If my career is any indication, rest assured, our profession will go through many transformations over the course of your careers. As you traverse the uncertainties that are part of a creative profession, there will be choices that you make along the way. All of these decisions will add to your maturation as a writer and collective experience as a person. I recall a group of less than fifty members when I first joined the SCL. There were also less than sixty of us doing most of the work in the television field and when my opportunity came, I was privileged to join that selective community. Now the SCL counts over a thousand in its numbers.
There is one thing I can promise you, I still feel as excited and passionate about the music as I did that summer’s night many years ago. The joy of writing it has not diminished in any way or form. My partner, Tom has become one of Nashville’s most successful writers, and I assume he has better transportation today. I truly believe that we are fortunate and blessed to be able to write and create music and song. As I say, it’s not really a choice, it’s necessary for our souls. I know with dedication, a positive outlook and a little old fashioned luck your creative spirit will turn your own dreams into reality.
Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXV, Number Two, Summer 2010]