Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil and Opinions on Bon Iver

Jim and Greg talk to legendary songwriting duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and get the stories behind the hits You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, On Broadway and more.

Songwriters Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil on Sound Opinions
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Jim and Greg talk about two news stories merging Broadway and the pop world. The Tony award-winning musical Book of Mormon is now also a chart success. It’s the highest-charting Broadway cast album and first in the top ten since 1969, when Hair spent thirteen straight weeks at #1. On the other end of the spectrum, YouTube phenom Susan Boyle has inspired a new musical called I Dreamed a Dream. It will be a fairy tale of sorts, where the heroine gets swept away to Hollywood (and the big bad wolf is Simon Cowell).

This past weekend Bruce Springsteen lost his constant sidekick and friend, Clarence Clemons. Greg calls Clemons the first among equals in a large band of characters. His saxophone was as important to many of Springsteen’s songs as the Boss’s guitar. And even in later years, when sax wasn’t as prominent a component, Clemons was a large presence onstage. Jim will miss that energy, though he has always been critical of his sax style. To remember Clarence Clemons our hosts listen to Jungleland from the 1975 album Born to Run.

Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil

It’s always interesting to get the backstory behind our favorite music and hear from producers, songwriters and session musicians. So this week Jim and Greg talk to songwriting duo Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. The husband and wife team made their mark during the Brill Building era of the 1960s alongside other hired guns like Carole King & Gerry Goffin and Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. Barry and Cynthia talk about the friendly competition between songwriters during that time and how they came up with classic pop tunes like You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, On Broadway, and Kicks. They also wrote We Gotta Get Out of This Place, but as a single for Barry...not The Animals. Barry and Cynthia recently received the Johnny Mercer Award presented by The Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. And Cynthia has got something for the younger set as well: check out her children’s book Rockin’ Babies.

Bon Iver, Bon Iver Bon Iver

Bon Iver (Deluxe Edition)

There’s been a whole lotta commentary about the new album by Bon Iver–some good, some bad. Justin Vernon first made a splash in 2008 with For Emma, Forever Ago. Even Kanye West is a fan. But the mythology precedes the record according to Greg. Bon Iver, Bon Iver is much more lushly orchestrated, but it really starts to sag in the middle. By the last track Greg was having bad visions of Steve Winwood and Bruce Hornsby. He says Burn It. Jim hears Mike + The Mechanics and thinks Greg is being kind. The production is grating, the lyrics nonsensical and the vibe drippy and snoozy. In other words: Trash It.

Greg

To cap off the show, Greg pays tribute to Robert Johnson. The 100th anniversary of the bluesman’s death is this year. Although he died at the age of 27 and didn’t get to record much in his lifetime, he nonetheless became so influential many regard him as the godfather of rock and roll. With his unique vocal and guitar performances and complicated narratives, it’s easy to understand why Johnson resonates today. Greg chooses to add the song If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day to the Desert Island Jukebox.

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