July 13, 2012

"For the bridge [of 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin''], Phil experimented on the piano with a 'Hang On Sloopy' riff. It was brilliant."

That would be Phil Spector, as described by the songwriter Barry Mann, who says:
I built a melody on the riff while Cynthia shouted out lyrics: "Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for you" and so on. When we met the Righteous Brothers a few days later, we were nervous they might not like it.
Cynthia is co-writer Cynthia Weil, who says:
Bill and Bobby [Hatfield, The Righteous Brothers] stood at the piano while Barry played and sang the melody and Phil sang harmony. At the end, there was dead silence. Bill said, "Sounds good — for the Everly Brothers." At first he didn't hear the soul. So Phil asked them to try it.

Mr. Mann: But Phil wanted Bill to sing the verses alone, with Bobby joining on the chorus.

Ms. Weil: They had always sung together, and Bobby wasn't happy. He said to Phil, "What am I supposed to do while the big guy is singing?" Phil snapped, "You can go to the bank."
Phil snapped, eh? Well, look out. Phil Spector is in prison right now, for killing a woman. Had you forgotten?

I love the picture of Mann and Weil at the link. It's exactly the way I like to think songwriting teams of that era looked. It makes me want to get a shag rug and some index cards and lie down on the floor with my bare feet up on the sofa where Meade is stretched out, dressed in white (including white crew socks), strumming out some chords on the guitar. And I come up with lines about something beautiful dying or whatever and then our crazy friend comes in and bangs out the intro to "Louie Louie" or "Mony Mony" or "I Want Candy" and suddenly that's the bridge and I'm jotting on the index cards "We had a love...a love...a love you don't find every day..."

23 comments:

MarkW said...

It looks like Weil is fretting his guitar with her monkey toes.

SteveR said...

"you can go to the fucking bank"

traditionalguy said...

I once suggested that she request that song from the band at during wedding reception. I was only joking, trying to cheer up a depressed mother of the bride who hated being at the wedding because her exhusband was there too.

She actually did request it. Thankfully, the band leader refused to play it.

Hang on Sloopy is an all time best rock and roll era song. Today, the words would probably be crude instead of suggestive. But it would work at a wedding receptions, unless the bride was from the wrong side of town.

John said...

Everyone associated with the song "Hang on Sloopy" should have gone to prison decades ago. Absolute worst song in pop history. Worse than Sugar Sugar or Kung Fo Fighting. Worst ever.

MadisonMan said...

That's a great article. I love the window into the hitmaking.

I wonder how much the writers get annually in royalties from that one song (if they still own the rights to it, that is).

Marshal said...

I remember the death, but for some reason thought there was a much longer gap between it and the conviction. Maybe 6 years felt longer back then.

Marshal said...

P.S.

Spector is the strangest looking man in the history of earth.

Clarkson looks more familiar than her minor parts suggest. Maybe from media coverage at her death? Odd.

edutcher said...

Never cared for either of the songs (Sloopy, really?), but Spector is the living embodiment of the proposition that the line between genius and lunacy is exceedingly fine.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

That song seems overrated. If a girl loves me, she loves me; if she doesn't, she doesn't, and I don't know why she should have loving feelings otherwise than if I convince her I am worthy of it or that she has been confused--certainly not just from pleading on my part. Males indeed adjust their loving feelings for all sorts of reasons, just or otherwise, that don't always have to do with how much they love the female or females under consideration, but I am skeptical that females do this. Loving feelings from a girl more-or-less always seem to reflect how much she loves you, it seems to me. Of course, girls' behaviors can and often do reflect more than how much love she possesses, but that's different. Similarly, if a girl decides to ignore her feelings in favor of letting herself be guided by standard opinion or some trusted subset of standard opinion, that too is different, though indeed in that case it can be reprehensible (temporarily making her unworthy of loving feelings from me until she be herself).

The song definitely exploits females who excessively think males are like themselves. People get confused by the golden rule--different people have different needs, so sometimes it is best not to treat others as one would want to be treated (and also, unselfishness tends to be appropriate in proportion to how loveable the recipient be).

I suppose one could also classify the song as the male trying to exchange loving feeling (expressed by song) on his part for female favors. That's a lame kind of bribery, though not perhaps reprehensible except in the sense he suggests that he wants loving feelings more than loving behavior, a portrayal of his desires that I suspect to be fabricated.

The song doesn't strike me as anything great musically, either. "My Girl Sloopy" feels much better to my ear, but I'm not very musical.

EDH said...

It's exactly the way I like to think songwriting teams of that era looked. It makes me want to get a shag rug and some index cards and lie down on the floor with my bare feet up on the sofa where Meade is stretched out, dressed in white (including white crew socks), strumming out some chords on the guitar. And I come up with lines about something beautiful dying or whatever and then our crazy friend comes in and bangs out the intro to "Louie Louie" or "Mony Mony" or "I Want Candy" and suddenly that's the bridge and I'm jotting on the index cards "We had a love...a love...a love you don't find every day...

I'm sure that's how Yoko looked at it, too, at the time, and see what that got us.

leslyn said...

"Mony, Mony" is the greatest rock and roll song of all time.

But "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" is one of my best memories.

jeff said...

Anything in the article about "Top Gun" doing its level best to destroy that song?

EMD said...

Everyone associated with the song "Hang on Sloopy" should have gone to prison decades ago. Absolute worst song in pop history. Worse than Sugar Sugar or Kung Fo Fighting. Worst ever.


No no no. (Everyone Knows) It's Wendy is the worst pop song of all time.

leslyn said...

Is "Feelings" pop, or a ballad, or a pop ballad? In any case, it may be the worst of anything, all time.

Does anyone remember Carol Burnett signing that song in a skit with Vicki Lawrence and Tim Conway?

Comanche Voter said...

Geez Louise! Don't overanalyze the song. It's the most played single in ASCAP hisotyr--which only goes back to 1939. It obviously it a note with a lot of people.

And Spector was right;Bobby Hatfield needed to let the big guy sing, and join in on the choruses--and take the money to the bank!

Is it a great song? Well it's not as good as Beethoven's Freude from his Ninth Symphomy, but it has moved a lot of people.

Oso Negro said...

Everyone associated with the song "Hang on Sloopy" should have gone to prison decades ago. Absolute worst song in pop history. Worse than Sugar Sugar or Kung Fo Fighting. Worst ever.


No no no. (Everyone Knows) It's Wendy is the worst pop song of all time.



Ahh...but what about "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" by Paper Lace?

leslyn said...

Beaker Sings "Feelings"

William said...

Of all the celebrity murderers, Phil Spector was far and away the most talented....Did all that wealth and fame aggravate or, to a point, help to conceal his craziness?

EMD said...

Ahh...but what about "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" by Paper Lace?

I sense a future Althouse thread — Worst Pop Songs of All Time.

Chip S. said...

That's not a rug, it's a floor toupee.

EMD said...

Sorry, it's Windy, not Wendy.

Which makes it even worse.

Krumhorn said...

It's exactly the way I like to think songwriting teams of that era looked. It makes me want to get a shag rug and some index cards and lie down on the floor with my bare feet up on the sofa where Meade is stretched out, dressed in white (including white crew socks), strumming out some chords on the guitar.

Ann, do you see yourself looking extremely sexy in that white cotton blouse, fitted slacks......and that cute beanbag ash tray full of butts on the floor next to you?

I admit it. I look at that picture, and I get that lovin' feeling

-- Krumhorn

jr565 said...

Unchained Melody was the better song, though You've Lost that loving Feeling might have got more airplay.