Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil are songwriting royalty. The couple’s compositions have been recorded by some of the leading performers of recent decades, including the Righteous Brothers, Gene Pitney, the Drifters, the Ronettes and Dusty Springfield, all of whom feature here on this latest addition to Ace’s songwriter series.
Barry, recalling his first encounter with Cynthia in the early months of 1960: “It was at the office of Kenny Greengrass, Teddy Randazzo’s manager. I had already been signed to Nevins-Kirshner. I was there to play a song Howard Greenfield and I had written for Teddy. Standing next to Teddy was Cynthia, who I took to be his girlfriend. She probably was – to this day she won’t tell me. Teddy loved the song and ended up recording it. I was the A-side and Cynthia, who was writing with Teddy at the time, was the B-side. That was the beginning.”
Cynthia was immediately attracted to Barry and set out to get to know him. They wrote their first song together later that year and Cynthia soon joined Barry at Don Kirshner and Al Nevins’ publishing company, Aldon Music, home to some of New York’s hottest young songwriters. ‘Bless You’, their first successful composition, entered the charts in August 1961, two months before their wedding. Motivated by master talent-spotter Kirshner, Barry and Cynthia went on to write some of the landmark songs of the modern era.
Barry: “Aldon was located at 1650 Broadway, a block north of the Brill Building. There was Cynthia and myself, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Howie Greenfield and Neil Sedaka, Jack Keller and others, all vying to please Donnie by writing Aldon’s next hit. It was a very competitive and inspiring atmosphere.”
Cynthia: “Our office had a piano, a bench, a chair and an ashtray. The great thing was, you’d hear what everybody else was doing, because the walls were quite thin. You’d hear what Goffin and King were pounding out in the cubicle next to us. It fed your creative hungers. We would sit and write all the time. When we took time off to eat, we would feel guilty. Now, we fit writing in around life. Then, life was something we slipped in around writing and demo sessions. Our only friends and greatest rivals were Carole and Gerry, and their only friends were us, because no-one else would put up with a friend you never saw.”
This collection draws from Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s first decade together but, unlike most of their contemporaries, they remained consistently successful throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Still together today, their body of work numbers in excess of 1000 titles, most of them jointly written, of which over 100 were hits.
By Mick Patrick