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Behind The Song

The Christmas Song

The Christmas Song

It was a sweltering hot July afternoon in 1945 when Mel Tormé showed up for a writing session at the Toluca Lake house of his lyric partner Bob Wells. Mel let himself in and called out for Bob. No answer. He walked over to the piano, and there, resting on the music board, was a […]

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The story behind Bob Mays’ beloved Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a story written to comfort his daughter and was turned into a best-selling Christmas song.

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Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee”

Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee”

Merle Haggard often gets name-checked in contemporary country songs. It’s a quick way to tip a hat to tradition and add a helping of honky-tonk cred. Haggard’s 41 No. 1 country hits and place in country’s Mount Rushmore aside, his name personifies the hard life that was once synonymous with the genre. Prison sentences, multiple […]

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Legends of Songwriting

Harold Arlen

Harold Arlen

The story of Harold Arlen, the great American songwriter who gave the world such classics at “That Old Black Magic,” “One For My Baby,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and his crowning masterpiece “Over the Rainbow.”

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Felice and Boudleaux Bryant

Felice and Boudleaux Bryant

Behind the legendary songwriting duo of such classics as “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Bye Bye Love,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Love Hurts” and “Rocky Top.”

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Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

He was America’s first professional songwriter. He was also the first songwriter to be unfairly exploited by music publishers. Although his songs never generated the fortune Stephen Foster deserved during his brief life span, many of them, such as “Oh! Susanna,” “Old Kentucky Home,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” and “Old Folks at Home,” […]

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Recent News and Features

Frank Sinatra: The Stories Behind His Songs

Frank Sinatra: The Stories Behind His Songs

| December 12, 2016 | 4 Comments

Frank Sinatra was the best friend a song ever had. We have the stories behind some of his greatest hits— like “Nice ‘n’ Easy,” “My Way,” “It Was a Very Good Year,” “All the Way,” and “The Best Is Yet to Come”—told by the songwriters.

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The Mysterious Death of Sam Cooke

The Mysterious Death of Sam Cooke

| December 11, 2016 | 94 Comments

Sam Cooke was shot to death on Dec. 10, 1964 outside an L.A. Motel under mysterious circumstances. With many questions left unanswered, Performing Songwriter takes a look at that fateful night.

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Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

| December 9, 2016 | 1 Comment

On Dec. 9, 1965 ‘Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown’ became synonymous with the holiday when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and its Vince Guaraldi soundtrack aired for the first time.

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Happy Birthday, Tom Waits!

Happy Birthday, Tom Waits!

| December 7, 2016 | 8 Comments

Quotes and quips from Tom Waits, who is as much of a character as any of the hundreds of freaks, carnies and salvation seekers populating his songs.

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Happy Birthday, Randy Newman

Happy Birthday, Randy Newman

| November 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

An Interview with Randy Newman on his approach to songwriting and the stories behind his songs Political Science, Redneck, Short People, God’s Song, and more.

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