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Episode 01: Tony Macaulay

Tony MacaulayTony Macaulay is a songwriter and music producer who, in 1967, went from nowhere to number one in the U.K. with a song he co-wrote and produced called, “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You.” He followed that success with a long string of pop releases which included 12 number ones in the U.K. and U.S., plus 38 top 20 U.K. tracks. 

Despite penning under different credit combinations, you'll still hear a unique Tony Macaulay sound.  Mr. Macaulay identifies his early sound as a mix of Motown & Bacharach.  His music has been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to Gladys Knight to Tom Jones.  Many of his songs were recorded by several artists.  Following are some of my favorite versions, along with some commentary and light analysis.

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  Song Artist Songwriter Producer Comments
Build Me Up, Buttercup


The Foundations Mike d'Abo
Tony Macaulay
Tony Macaulay The title of this ultimate feel-good song was originally intended only as a place-holder. That's (co-writers) Mike d'Abo on piano & Tony Macaulay on organ.  The bass walks upward in the chorus and downward in the verse.  (Watch for more bass walk-downs in Macaulay songs.)  Interestingly, the key change is employed immediately before the fade-out.
(Last Night) I Didn't Get To Sleep At All


The 5th Dimension Tony Macaulay Bones Howe The Carpenters turned down this song due to the drug (sleeping pill) reference.  The breathy "no, no_" is tailor-made for Karen & Richard.  Luckily, Marilyn McCoo made this soft pop standard all her own.  Note the Bacharach influences in the orchestration and the time signature change at "I didn't get to sleep, didn't get to sleep, no I didn't get to sleep at all."
Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)


Edison Lighthouse Tony Macaulay
Barry Mason
Tony Macaulay. An experiment in 8 bars.  The verse and chorus are intentionally only 4 bars each.  This allows the melody to be absorbed in a condensed amount of listening time.  If you enjoy the classic Edison Lighthouse recording, you should definitely check out Freedy Johnston's 2001 version.
Smile A Little Smile For Me


The Flying Machine Geoff Stephens
Tony Macaulay
Tony Macaulay A pre-chorus build (i.e. "so darling dry your eyes...:") is a Macaulay trademark.  The "Oh, come on..." chorus lead-in is reminiscent of the "Believe me..." in Sorry Suzanne."  "I know that he hurt you bad / I know, Darling, don't be sad" functions like a 4-bar bridge, but it's really part of the larger refrain, starting and ending with the song title.  In my songwriting courses, I call this a "Title Sandwich." 
Don't Give Up On Us


David Soul Tony Macaulay Tony Macaulay. Hutch sings!  There's some nice tension in the bridge when the IV/V chord modulates up a half step, teasing a key change but ultimately holding back.  The payoff comes later, during a half-step key change, from A to Bb.  The vocal starts on F# (on "don't") up a minor 7th to E (on "give") and then down to D (on "up").  Try it on a keyboard to fully appreciate it.
Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again


The Fortunes Tony Macaulay
Roger Cook
Roger Greenaway
Roger Cook Shades of The Four Seasons.  You can hear a little bit of Frankie Valli vocal styling at "It always seems to be a Monday / Leftover memories of Sunday..."  The chorus is circular, meaning by the time you get to the end, you're back to singing the beginning, which makes it stick in your head.
Baby, Now That I've Found You


The Foundations Tony Macaulay
John Macleod
Tony Macaulay. Motown bass lines, a horn section, a soulful vocal and a melody that won't quit.  What else could anyone possibly need?  Despite the lead singer sitting it out on "Darlin', I just can't let you," it's a masterful hook which catapults us into the chorus.
Every Little Move She Makes


Tony Burrows Tony Macaulay
Roger Cook
Roger Greenaway
Tony Macaulay. This B-side to Burrows' single, "I've Still Got My Heart, Jo," was also co-written by Macaulay.  A strong melody, a dramatic string arrangement, a monster bass guitar performance, a nice key change and an interesting scheme choice.  After a short intro, the 8-bar refrain establishes itself *3* times before yielding to the only other section, the bridge, which ends by announcing the next chorus with a group shout: "HEY!"
In Those Bad, Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)


The Foundations Tony Macaulay
John Macleod
Tony Macaulay You can really hear the Temptations / Motown influence here in the vocals, chord changes and orchestration.  Another nice pre-chorus build-up and Title Sandwich chorus.
Blame It On the Pony Express


Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon Tony Macaulay
Roger Cook
Roger Greenaway
Roger Greenaway
Tony Macaulay.
"Johnny Johnson had that 'instant party' in his voice."  Macaulay & Greenaway's soulful treatment adds a layer of authenticity that other versions of the song miss.  For example, listen to what '70s teen idol Bobby Sherman and his production team did with their recording.  Sherman's backing track sounds like it could have been recorded for The Partridge Family.
Sorry Suzanne


The Hollies Geoff Stephens
Tony Macaulay
Ron RIchards Several nice touches here: The vocal harmonies, the acoustic guitar(s) employing suspended fourth chords before the verses, and the quarter-note triplets at the verse's end.  Another Macaulay hallmark is the vocal turnaround phrase, in this case: "You gotta believe me."
Any Old Time You're Lonely and Sad


The Foundations Tony Macaulay
John Macleod
Tony Macaulay Four different chords over the same bass note in the intro create anticipation for the verse.  The sustained vocal note at "love slip a-way__," is an ingenious way to create a modulated, 2-chord transition from the pre-chorus to the chorus.  Gilbert O'Sullivan could easily have written the chorus. Picture him singing the big, upward interval jumps in the middle of words ("feel-IN' down" and "be a-ROUND").
Baby Make It Soon


The Marmalade Tony Macaulay Mike Smith Macaulay's songs tend to have strong build-ups in the pre-chorus and this one is no exception.  When the chorus hits, there's no doubt about it.  Another nice vocal turnaround phrase: "Lord, [I know I need you] / [I've got to see you]."
(It's Like A) Sad Old Kinda' Movie


Pickettywitch Tony Macaulay
John Macleod
John MacLeod Singer Polly Brown could convincingly intone any Dionne Warwick inflection. 

A Warwick-style delivery contributes to Macaulay's Bacharach connection.

And this chorus?  Perfection.

That Same Old Feeling


Pickettywitch Tony Macaulay
John Macleod
John MacLeod Listen to the original version of this song as recorded by The Foundations.  Then listen to how the song evolved in later versions by The Fortunes and Pickettywitch.  It's an illustrative lesson for re-writing and for arranging in different styles.
Back On My Feet Again


The Foundation(s) Tony Macaulay
John Macleod
Tony Macaulay. Such a sing-able chorus. Lots of Motown influence on this record.  The "bah-dah-dah-dah" trumpet idea in this chorus (minus one "dah") would find its way into the verse backing vocal for "Build Me Up, Buttercup."
Oklahoma Sunday Morning


Glen Campbell Tony Macaulay
Albert Hammond
Lee Hazlewood
Al DeLory This track makes a nice bookend to Campbell's recording of "True Grit."  A perfect match of singer and song, it's Glen Campbell melody, chords and imagery all the way.
Home Lovin' Man


Andy Williams Roger Cook
Roger Greenaway
Tony Macaulay
Dick Glasser Don't try to reconcile this rough & ready, sea-faring lyric ("mizzen mast," "drunk the barrels dry") with Andy Williams' angelic tenor voice and clean-cut appearance.  Just pretend he's playing the role of a sailor in an old Hollywood movie and let the song wash over you.  After all, it "reached #7 in the UK and #10 on the adult contemporary chart," per Wikipedia.

Dave Caruso: “You might not recognize the name of our first guest. As he once told me, that’s often the fate of the non-performing songwriter.

There’s no ‘Tony Macaulay Greatest Hits’ album available, since his songs were recorded by a variety of artists, on a variety of different record labels.

But if you like melodic pop music in the classic songwriting style, you’ll probably recognize his music. Let’s listen:”


Build Me Up, Buttercup (The Foundations)

(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All (The Fifth Dimension)

Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) (Edison Lighthouse)

(It's Like a) Sad Old Kinda Movie (Pickettywich)

Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again (The Fortunes)

Don’t Give Up On Us (David Soul)

Baby, Now That I’ve Found You (The Foundations)

Smile A Little Smile For Me (The Flying Machine)

Tony Macaulay is a songwriter and music producer who, in 1967, went from nowhere to number one in the U.K., with a song he co-wrote, called, ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You.’ He followed that with a long string of pop releases that he co-wrote, wrote or produced, as recorded by artists such as The Foundations, The Fifth Dimension, David Soul, The Fortunes, The Hollies, Glen Campbell, Andy Williams, Elvis Presley, The Drifters, Tom Jones, Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, Olivia Newton John, and Engelbert Humperdinck.

In this episode, you’ll hear the stories behind some of Mr. Macaulay’s songs. We’ll talk about his songwriting process and we’ll get to know some of the artists with whom he worked and some of his songwriting collaborators. We’ll even get some valuable tips on songwriting for the theater. I couldn’t have asked for a more interesting or accommodating guest for our inaugural show.”

DC: “Tony Macaulay, welcome to Songwriter Stories, and let’s talk about songwriting!”

DC: “Whoever wrote that biography on your website did a tremendous job!”

Tony Macaulay: [Laughs]

DC: “I learned a lot. I also learned things on Wikipedia about you. One of the things I learned is you were born as Anthony Gordon Instone. Is that correct?”

TM: “Yes, that’s right.”

DC: “And what made you change it to Macaulay?

TM: “Well, when I started in the business I was a promotion man or a ‘
plugger’ is what they called them then (I think they still do). And that is someone who goes around radio stations trying to get records played for a publisher or a record company.

But in those days in the UK, apart from the
pirate ships, there was only the BBC that mattered. And the British Broadcasting Corporation was our national station. We hadn’t got commercial stations when I started out in the mid-‘60s. And a high-up, executive in the company was a distant relative of mine by the name [Anna] ‘Instone,’ (which is actually a derivation of ‘Einstein’ — Albert Einstein the scientist was my grandfather’s cousin).

It was such an unusual name and also she wasn’t much liked, this woman. She used to enjoy the bottle; they called her ‘Anna GIN-stone.’ And it was thought nepotistic if I had the same name as a promotion man, and so they said, would I change my name.

And in those days, as in New York and many other cities, the exchanges didn’t have numbers — the
telephone exchanges had *names*, like in New York — ‘Judson 4760,’ you know. And the same thing was in England. And Macaulay was the name of a telephone exchange. But anyway, I only got through the first page and there were the names of the various exchanges and ‘Tony Macaulay’ had a ring to it and that was that.”

DC: “OK! You were song plugging at Essex [Publishing], but then you started eventually producing at
Pye [Records]. Was that around 1967?”

TM: “Yes. Yes. I only ever wanted to become a record producer and songwriter, and I soon realized that my only hope of dong that was trying to approach it from the inside of the industry, not from the outside. In those days, there were no more than about a dozen record producers in the whole industry. Nearly all were contracted directly to record companies.

The only way of ever becoming a record producer was if somebody got fired and they were looking for someone new. And I worked my way up from a music publishing company called
EMI Records and from there I went sideways and went from being a promotion man to a junior record producer.

And eventually got around to recording my own songs. I’d lost faith in my own songs, somewhat by then. But as soon as I started recording my own songs, I started having hits. After that, things got better and better.”

DC: “Did Essex and Pye have any kind of relationship?”

TM: “No. I had the offer of being a plugger at Essex and I seized it with both hands. I had no idea what a plugger even was. I just knew I was going to be salaried to a proper entity within the music industry, and once I was on the inside, I would hear the sort of jobs I wanted to get. And I used every means possible.

I got lots of favors from studios; used time when nobody was booked in there for nothing to make all sorts of records and recordings — none of which were successful but they got better and better and more and more accomplished, to the point that I felt brave enough to play them to record companies to show that I could produce records.”

DC: “‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You’ was one of the first successes you had?”

TM: “Yeah, it was a tune we’d had for a long time. And the truth of the matter is, I got a phone call from over at the studio at Pye Records and they said, ‘What are you doing at home? You’ve booked this band in for an audition.’ And I thought, oh, my God, I had! And I was so hung over, when I got to the studio, and I really couldn’t tell whether they were any good or not — it was just a bloody awful noise in my head, the band. So [I gave them] the benefit of the doubt, and agreed to rehearse the song with them.

We went to a pub, in a room above a pub, 70, 80, a hundred years before it had been the home of Karl Marx, the man who invented Communism, this room we rehearsed in.

I hadn’t even really finished the song. I had so little faith in the song and so little faith in them. And myself, really, at the time, which is why the lyric is so incredibly repetitive. And I had a lot of trouble making it.

I had to re-dub the bass ‘cause the guy couldn’t play and [the guy] couldn’t sing the line before the chorus — ‘Darlin’, I just can’t let you,’ — he just couldn’t get that, so we got backing singers to sing that. Then that sounded ridiculous all on its own so we wrote all sorts of other vocal backing parts. I did hand claps and God knows what else, and at the end of it all it really did sound like a hit.”

DC: “You know, I would never have known that there was a reason for the background vocals to sing that part. I noticed that they did, but I didn’t realize that there was a story behind it, so that’s great.

John Macleod’ [also spelled 'McLeod'] — am I pronouncing his name correctly?”

TM: “Yeah.”

DC: “I read that he was your mentor at Pye.”

TM: “I met him the day I joined the business, several years before. He was my father’s generation, he’d been through the war. He was an extremely good arranger — one of the best I ever worked with. And also a pretty good harmonist and pianist, you know. I only played the guitar at that point. And I watched him play and we started writing songs together. And when we finished writing a song, he’d show me how to play it on the piano. And very gradually I learned — I spent hours and hours locked away after work, teaching myself the piano.

I learned an awful lot of music from him. But as with all these things, there came a point when really... the chemistry was no longer working. After a couple of years, I was fortunate enough to be in demand to write with all the best people in the business. And all sorts of pop acts wanted to write with me and so on, and I was anxious to get out in the field. I didn’t think he was contributing as much — he was certainly doing wonderful arrangements but I felt I was writing a lot on the guitar on my own and on the piano on my own. It came to a natural end, really but there’s no question about it — I learned an enormous amount of music from him that, had I been working with someone who was as musically ignorant as I was, I would never have probably developed the technique that I did over the years.

When it came to business, he was as naive as I was. He’d never had any success as a songwriter until I came along, when he was in his 50s. So consequently, we did as almost all writers did in those days, we signed a pretty obnoxious contract with some pretty obnoxious publishers who were (like so many music publishers in those days) completely and utterly bent.”

DC: “Which of your co-writers were also at Pye?”

TM: “None. Almost everybody I wrote with had been successful for a decade before I even came along. So they’re all about ten years older than me. And these people, that I’d been buying their records they’d written loving their songs for years suddenly became my friends and people I was writing with.”

DC: “I wondered about that because when I look at your co-writers’ work without you, I would say it’s generationally a little bit older-sounding than yours.”

TM: “Well I was the sort of — at that particular point, all those years ago, — the sort of new kid on the block. And being a record producer for a major record company also helped. But most of the songwriters of that era *were* record producers. And the good thing was that we all had acts we were recording, many of which were successful acts. And so if you wrote with another songwriter / record producer, the song would immediately be eaten up by one or other of us, to be at the very least an album track. But obviously we were trying to write as many singles as we could.”

DC: “Which artists were you the most heavily involved with as a songwriter or producer or both?”

TM: “What period are you talking about?”

DC: “Well, we’re really looking at like, I think the late 60s, early 70s right now.”

TM: “Well, till 1969 the only acts that matter for this conversation were The Foundations,
Long John Baldry (who I had a number one hit with in England, it was my second hit), a little group called ‘Paper Dolls’ I had a top-five hit with called ‘Something Here in My Heart’ (I offered it to Scott Walker, The Hollies and a number of other people), we had a hit with a group called Pickettywitch called ‘Same Old Feeling,’ which was Top 5.

And it was really only when I left Pye and the first record after that was ‘Love Grows [(Where My Rosemary Goes)]’ with Edison Lighthouse that I started really just recording my own acts and really wrote with everyone that I could, you know.”

DC: “Did you play or sing on any of the songs you produced?”

TM: “Oh, God yeah.” DC: “Any examples of that that we might be able to hear?” TM: “Yes. I sang vocal backups. Strangely enough, my voice has actually got better and better over the years but at the time it really wasn’t all that good at all. I could sing in tune, but it wasn’t a sound you wanted to listen to. And whenever I did
demonstration records to sell my songs to people I always used top session singers. I never thought my voice was good enough. Strangely enough, it’s actually [laughs] really not too bad these days but I sang vocal backups on a lot of tracks, I played all sorts of percussion instruments all sorts of overdubs from bass guitar, guitar — whatever was missing that I could play, I played, dubbed on myself, you know.

[On] ‘Build Me Up, Buttercup’ I added little organ licks which are key to the song and added vocal backing and played the tambourine, all sorts of stuff.”

DC: “You write on piano and guitar now, ever since you started adding piano to your arsenal, right?”

TM: “Yeah.”

DC: “At what point in your songwriting process do you reach for your instrument? I like to do it late in the process. I don’t do it early.”

TM: “What do you mean?”

DC: “I start it in my head, melodically and chord-ally, before I touch any instrument. Do you do the same thing or do...”

TM: “I *have* done, yeah, some big songs I wrote walking down the street and came home and found out the chords were quite good and they all had some integrity when you actually played them. But in general, I’m just playing, for whatever reason, sitting down at the piano in the right mood or with guitar, things tend to....

In the period you’re talking about, through the ‘60s & ‘70s, it often depended on having a good title, or someone having asked you — some star name having asked you — to write something for them and therefore you having their voice and their particular style in your head at the time.

Having a piece of melody that you thought was good but you didn’t have a lyric for... It was nearly always we started with a hook melody and once we got the hook really sounding great, we wrote all the other elements to it and would work out guitar licks and opening riffs and things like that. So everything was pretty meticulously done.

By the time it got to the end of the first chorus, I’d always know whether it was going to be a hit or not. I think about a half a dozen times in my whole career when I was [laughs] resolutely wrong. But in general — often when I got to the end of the first chorus, I thought ‘well that’s an album track, that’s never a hit.’ Or it’s a B-side or something.

Only a percentage of the songs you wrote screamed at you that they were hits. And sometimes songs were borderline, where we said, well, if that was an unknown artist it wouldn’t be a hit but if I recorded it with major stars who were big at the time, that probably *would* be a hit. That name would help carry it. So there were a lot of considerations.”

DC: “In an interview once you said that you’ve contributed both music and lyrics to every collaborative experience you’ve had.”

TM: “That’s right, yeah. The only case where that wasn’t true was the first big musical I wrote. They brought in an American who’d just won a Tony on Broadway and they thought that would help. And it did. But in general, I’ve never written lyrics to anyone else’s tune because my brain doesn’t work that way around.”

DC: ”Okay, so you’ve also collaborated with a *wide* variety of partners, whereas most people have one or two or three partners...”

TM: “Well, I was a musical whore, you know. [Laughs.] Every time I sit down with somebody new, they’ll have a snippet of melody inspires me or a bit of lyric or just some element that gets us going and that’s turned out to be true.”

DC: “Well, despite all of this variety and versatility, many of your songs manage to have something in common, to my ears. And it’s more than just the era they came from. I’m specifically speaking of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s portion of your catalogue. To me, it seems to begin with the types of melodies and chord changes, which are written, some would say, in a ‘classic’ songwriting style. What would *you* say contributes to ‘the Tony Macaulay sound?’”

TM: “Well,
Clive Davis, who was a great mentor for so many of us right until Simon Cowell — Simon Cowell was mentored by Clive Davis and he was the head of CBS Records, then he was head of Arista. And he had... the list of artists that he has mentored is staggering. And he was one of the great gurus of pop music. He used to say that a great pop song has a conversational verse and an anthemesque chorus. And there’s a huge amount of truth in that. It’s not true of every song. There is no formula for writing songs.

But to me, the first four measures of the chorus of any song should have all the magic in the world. It doesn’t matter how much magic is in the rest of the song. If that doesn’t give you a kick the first time you hear it, then something’s wrong or the song doesn’t have it. And I’m very, very conscious of the chords and the bass line and the rhythm and the tempo, and all the things that may give a song a commercial feel. So I don’t even bother starting a song unless I can get a kick out of it every time I play the chorus.

Very often, I just have the first four bars of melody and a dummy lyric just to have words to sing. Paul McCartney used to say the dummy lyric for Yesterday was ‘Scrambled Eggs.’ ‘Scarmbled eggs... all I really need is scrambled eggs.’ So you have a dummy lyric. And often the test of it will be if I wake up the following morning and it’s on my mind and that would be a very good test. And it kept on coming back to me. Sometimes it comes back to you in slightly refined form.

So the next thing I would do is put it in the highest key that it was feasible to sing it in. Because when you get to the chorus, you want the song to really have some impact. And in order for it to sound like the singer is putting as much emotion into it as possible, it’s very often the best idea to take a leaf out of opera and put the song in the highest key the singer can hit at that point. If you do that, then it gives you all the rest of the scale to write the rest of the song in a lower range, so you can set the chorus up properly. Whereas if you just make the mistake of so many songwriters do of singing it in the key you’re most familiar with, or most comfortable with, the song flatlines — it doesn’t have any dynamic shift. It doesn’t change gear in the chorus.”

DC: “You build emotionally and dramatically toward the chorus.”

TM: “Yeah, that’s everything. So, the interaction, the transition out of the verse into the chorus is the most important part of the song. So not only would I be looking at what the verse says lyrically in order to set the chorus lyric up, and melodically so that it starts well, builds into the chorus, I’ll be looking at all the ‘musical engineering,’ [laughs] you might call it. All the modulation possibilities, especially later on, but a lot of my songs have modulations in them. And they’re all designed to set up, to give the song the maximum amount of excitement. So when you get to the chorus, there’s a sense of going somewhere.

And we didn’t always get it right. Often I’d have to go back and re-record a song again with a different verse, because sometimes we were so excited about the chorus that we sloughed the verse off, didn’t give it enough thought. The most important thing then was to routine the song and that was having a tremendous amount of discussion.

And if it was going to be an unknown artist you were going to do the song with, then you needed to give the listener (i.e. the disc jockey or the radio show producer) some bloody good to hear right really quick. And so we’d often start with the chorus and hit them over the head as hard as we could in the first forty-five seconds of the song.

If it was going to be a star name, where people were gonna be somewhat more patient, and wait a minute or two to decide whether they liked it or not, then we might decide to start with the verse. Or perhaps just half a chorus — a verse and then into the chorus. Even then, we tried to keep the verses fairly to the point. So we got to the chorus pretty quickly.

And in that event, we might put in a really impactive intro — something with a strong guitar lick or some string line or something that made you think, ‘Hey, this sounds interesting.’

So a lot of thought went into how you laid the song out. And record, rehearsing it with the artist to find out the perfect pieces to it — not just for them but also for the orchestra for the guitars or all the strings and all of these things taken into account. And so on and so forth.”

DC: “You covered everything I was gonna cover. I wanted to you to cover orchestration because there’s horns in a lot of The Foundations songs, and you’ve got strings in a lot of the songs. And you also talked about modulation. And I wanted to mention real quick for the listeners that in ‘Don’t Give Up On Us, Baby,’ in the David Soul version, you sort of — maybe it was intentional and maybe it wasn’t — but you sort of do an ‘almost key change,’ at the end of the bridge when you’re on the V [five] chord and you...”

TM: [Laughs] “Yeah, it’s a fake, it adds a bit of tension.

DC: “Yep, and then later...”

TM: “Yeah, it just adds a bit of tension. But when we came to the proper key change, it goes up a half step towards the end, he couldn’t sing that. He just couldn’t hear it. And so what you hear is you hear three other voices double-tracked singing that — ‘don’t... give...’ — it moves up a half step and I just dubbed them in that one section to cover the fact that he couldn’t hear the key change.”

DC: “It came out great. It came out great. Now let’s talk about collaboration a little bit, if you don’t mind.”

TM: “Well, in the pop era, it wasn’t until we got ‘(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All’ and ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’ and so on that I started having hits on my own. But when I was writing so much... one of the reasons I collaborate is to just bring somebody else in with a fresh set of ideas. Cause when you become a one-man song factory, you need all the help you can get.

So in those years I collaborated, largely collaborated. It wasn’t until I started doing musicals and things later on I started doing things alone entirely. I don’t enjoy collaborating at all anymore. I mean, it sounds arrogant, but usually if anything’s gonna work, it works pretty quickly.

And also, some songwriters, I remember one particular songwriter who shall be nameless saying to me, ‘Come on, the football starts in an hour. We can get this done by then.’ And I said, ‘I don’t give a damn about the football, the song’s finished when it’s finished.’

And I can labor on the lyrics for weeks, months sometimes, getting to the perfect line or the perfect rhyme or the perfect rhythm. A lot of collaborators just want the thing done, after a period of time. A song’s never done till it’s done, you know.

Talking about the theater particularly, they say ‘If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage,’ and that’s absolutely true, isn’t it?”

DC: “Well, in those early days with The Masons [
Barry Mason] and Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway and John Macleod and...”

TM: “Well those were writers... you know, in those days, if we met to write, then we could start at ten o’clock in the morning and by (frequently) afternoon, we’d have a complete song done. Or we’d split up at the end of the day and then meet for an hour or two a week later and just finish the lyric or something. Because you know, with me playing the guitar after about seven or eight hours my fingers were pretty tired.”

DC: “Gotcha. Were some of them [not] musicians?”

TM: “Yes. They all were, but I always played. Don’t ask me why, but I always did.”

DC: “Did each of you bring something to the table to start a song? Each of you would...”

TM: “Well, I mean
Geoff Stephens, who was an ex-schoolmaster, only plays in the key of ‘C’ but my God he was an incredible, natural composer. Talk about writing tunes in your head, I mean he had an extraordinary natural ability to come up with melodies. And pop songwriting is not like other music forms. A lot of it’s instinct. Understanding the market and the right emotional attachment to pop music, feeling it in the right way and... I think knowing some music makes a hell of a difference, but I think the spark, the original birth of the song often comes from the kind of mind that *doesn’t* actually know a lot of music.”

DC: “Well, let’s do a little bit of free association. I’ll name an artist or a song title and just see what happens. Is that okay?” TM: “Yeah.” DC: “I have a couple... I might steer ya a bit, but I might just take what you give me.
Johnny Mathis. I know he recorded at least two songs of yours, ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’ and ‘(Last Night) I Didn’t Get [To Sleep At All].’

TM: “I actually met him when I was a junior producer and he was pretty rude to me, which affected quite a lot in terms of how his voice sounded to me ever after that. I remember saying, ‘Oh, I really... I’m a tremendous fan. I bought... A Certain Smile is one of the first records I bought....’ And he said, ‘Well, shows you how much you know about music. I was out of tune for the first sixteen bars.”

DC: “Aw...”

TM: “I didn’t like him at all. And therefore... To me he has a very fine voice but it sounds so clinical. The emotions sound fake to me, there’s no real... it’s a *great* instrument, but there’s no real connection.”

DC: “Well, let’s go from Johnny Mathis to Andy Williams.”

TM: “Andy Williams was the most delightful man. I mean, a lot of pop singers turn into monsters but I spent quite a lot of time with Andy in Vegas when I was recording him for CBS. He was a charming man with a hundred stories about everyone from Humphry Bogart to Marilyn Monroe, you know.

And he was a consummate professional in the studio. And because he’d come from brothers who were in a harmony group with him, his sense of singing harmonies was extraordinary.

The only difficulty was that he liked having a lot of reverb on his voice, which I hated. You know, in a lot of my early records I used no reverb at all, because I thought it distanced the vocalists from the singer. And he would always say ‘Turn up the reverb’ and it just made him sound like he was singing through a wind tunnel to me. But he was a delightful man.”

DC: “
The Drifters.”
TM: “Well they were really a franchise more than a band, and I don’t think I ever saw the same lineup of The Drifters once and I had three big hits with them in the UK.
Johnny Moore was one of the singers, who took over from the original, Ben E. King, who had that wonderful, ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ voice. You know, that voice that the instant you heard it, sent certain a message. The expression in the industry was ‘instant vocal recognition,’ and he had that. In the minute you heard one bar of that voice, you know who the band was.

And they had such a set style, the expression was ‘situation / location’ songs. ‘At a place, doing something.’ And all the early Drifters [songs] are like that. We had the opportunity to put the group back together again in the mid-seventies. The first record we did was such a clone of those early songs. We used all the old recording techniques to make it sound like it was recorded in 1957, 58. Great fun.”

DC: “Well ‘Love Grows’ was originally recorded by Edison Lighthouse and it’s one of my favorite songs in the world and I ever get tired of it. But have you heard
Freedy Johnston’s version?” TM: “Who?” DC: “His name is Freedy Johnston.”

TM: “Freedy Johnston. No, I’ll look it up. That sounds interes... no I haven’t.”

DC: “It’s Freedy with two ‘E’s. I really recommend it to you, he did a tremendous job of...” TM: “Alright, I’ll look it up. Freedy Johnston”

DC: “...doing it in a modern style but keeping all the original things.”

TM: “Well that was a certain idea is that what would happen if you condense a whole song into eight bars. What happens if you had a verse of four and a chorus of four? So it goes:

‘She ain’t got no money, her clothes are kinda funny, hair is kinda wild & free’

That’s the verse. Then in come the strings []

‘Oh but love grows where my Rosemarie goes and nobody knows like me’

So there’s the whole song in eight bars. It was an experiment to see if it could be done. And the whole thing was written in about two or three hours.

And then I had some time left on the big recording session I had coming up. So in the last twenty minutes of the session I just did that backing track.

And that morning, while I was having a shave, I came up with the famous intro:

‘Bum bah-dah bum bum, bah dah-dah...’

So, that was not the intro on the track. So I [] the guitar quickly got everyone to write that down — there’s no harmony parts or anything [laughs]. It’s just everybody [] then the brass play it, then the strings play it.”

[AUDIO CLIP: “Love Grows”]

“When I heard the backing track back, with that riff, that rowing riff, and then the strings coming in — that sound is called ‘Ada
Marcato.’ As you know, it’s strings in two octaves, octaves apart, with the bows bowing every note. Makes it very rhythmic. It’s an old Motown trick.

Anyway, it sounded like a hit to me, even without a vocal on. And when I put the vocals on, it shone into the thing. But I felt it was less a song and more a production, so I pulled the voice quite back into the track to make sure those guitars were *really* pushing the song forward — they’re actually the loudest thing on the track. Because I thought when it was mixed with a normal mix, it just didn’t sound like a hit. A soon as I pulled those guitars forward, you’ve got all that excitement, then it really did sound something.

DC: “There’s just a million things I like about it. How ‘bout
Elvis Presley? You did about three songs with him?”

TM: “I was never particularly a Presley fan. I’m a
Buddy Holly fan through and through and the two are mutually exclusive, I think. Presley was kind of a jock’s hero when you talk to the men. Whereas Buddy Holly was more or less sort of a nerd’s hero, you know, the guys who did not, who weren’t in the [laughs] ‘A’ football team, you know. And Buddy Holly was the voice that was a big influence on me and the people like that.

But I knew Presley’s music publisher so he asked me to write some songs. And I sorta walked around the house making Presley noises at myself and my manager said, ‘Why don’t you try and write White Christmas again?’ And so I did. [laughs] It’s about men in Viet Nam, really, the song. And I ran some other things by him and I met Presley out in Memphis and I went to Graceland and so on.”

DC: “So no special requirements on the exclusivity or anything? You just did your thing?”

TM: “I had my own publishing free by then. So I published a song with Presley’s company in America, yeah.”

DC: “Great.”

TM: “I mean a lot of these artists, they wouldn’t record your song unless they had the music publishing.”

DC: “Of all the list of people that you list on your website that have sung your songs, Frank Sinatra was the one I could not find a song title for.“

TM: “There was one recorded by him, a song called, ‘Oh My Joe.’ I can’t find it anywhere. I only heard it halfway through and I took it off. They’d done, it’s actually, when I say it’s in swing feel, ‘pop swing’ feel, as is ‘Build Me Up, Buttercup,’ for example. But it isn’t in ‘
Billy May / Nelson Riddle swing’ feel. And I just... *hated* what they did with it.

I was brought up with Sinatra. I have to say that Andy Williams told me a lot of stories about Sinatra. And at the end of that I never wanted to hear Sinatra again [laughs]. Let’s leave it at that.”

DC: “Okay.
Sylvia McNeill. I didn’t know who she was...”

TM: “Sylvia McNeill was a very beautiful young girl with a wonderful, throaty, deep voice and I thought she should be a star. You know, I have my successes, I have my failures. I tried quite hard with her. I did one record with her I really believed in, but it had all the trait things about it should have had, it just wan’t enough. I heard it again the other day and it’s alright. It was better than I remember it being, but it wasn’t great.”

DC: “Well there’s
a 1971 photo of you and her on the web, on opposite sides of a recording console, when you were producing her...”

TM: “Yeah, I remember it.” DC: “...*love* that photo.

I’m gonna throw you a ringer:
Bobby Sherman.”

TM: “Uh... Bobby Sherman... Don’t even know who he is.”

DC: “That’s fine. He’s a pop star, a bubblegum pop star that had his own TV show that was sort of ‘Monkees-style.’ But he covered the ‘Pony Express’ song.”

TM: “Oh, did he?

DC: “Yeah.”

TM: “I’ll have to look that up.”

DC: “I found it accidentally. Well... it’s not anywhere the same quality as the
Johnny Johnson one.”

[AUDIO CLIP: ‘Blame It on the Pony Express’ by Johnny Johnson]

TM: “Well, that was gonna be the followup to ‘Love Grows,’ because the band that I put together to be ‘Edison Lighthouse’ (a studio group), the lead singer just couldn’t make it happen. And so, Johnny Johnston, who had had a hit with ‘Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache,” I’d had a small hit with him already in England, so I did it with him. And he had that ‘instant party’ in his voice, I mean he had the most amazing voice. I was able to take the whole song up a full step. And I think I played the guitar on it — that riff at the beginning, on the original record. And that was very much the same kinda thing — I felt it was more of a production than a song.

I’d seen a movie on TV called, ‘Pony Express.’ And [Roger] Greenaway came to the writing session with me and he looked all this stuff up in an encyclopedia about how the pony express worked and we got it all into the song.

But there again, the chorus was very kind of on that rolling sort of style rhythm. And again, the voice is quite far back in the track.

Singing on all those tracks are Greenaway and [Roger] Cook and two girls, called
Sue and Sunny. The world first heard them on “A Little Help From My Friends” with Joe Cocker. And I remember approaching them at a TV show, saying, ‘Hey, you girls should do sessions.’ They never looked back after that. I used them on everything. They’re on ‘Love Grows’ — that’s them in the background. Most of my hits, really, from about 1970 onwards.

DC: “Alright, here’s another group that’s probably more British than American. I’ve never heard of them.

TM: “Marmalade had a string of hits in England, about ten hits. Big, big group.” DC: “‘Baby Make it Soon’ is one of yours that I love.”

TM: “And I did ‘Baby Make it Soon’ which I wrote — I never thought it would be a hit, to be honest. And the recording is much like the demo. I mean, I quite like the song. It’s quite appealing. It’s very repetitive and very simple, but I quite like it.

And then when the group reformed with a different lead singer, I had a top-ten hit with them called ‘Falling Apart at the Seams,’ which stylistically was a complete lift of The Four Seasons’ sound. Ironically, never having anything to do with The Four Seasons, I got a phone call from
Bob Gaudio, about a month after the song came out, asking if I had anything for Frankie Valli. By that time I’d already done a deal on the song in America and it was too late.”

DC: “It looks like
Bones Howe produced ‘(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All’ when it was recorded by The Fifth Dimension. I know you gave it to The Carpenters, I don’t know if you *wrote* it for The Carpenters. But I hear, in that ‘no— no___’ — that breathiness?...”

TM: “That’s right...”

DC: “I feel like he was aiming for that...”

TM: “I gave the— I was in Japan with The Carpenters. I met them there and I wrote that and the reason I — ‘(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All’ the time had changed about twelve hours. Oh, I can’t rem— ten or twelve, something on that order, and it just slaughtered me, so I was dopey all day there and awake all night. Hence ‘(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All.’

And I thought it was a verse — the melody. I just thought it was leading — for ages and ages I looked for a chorus for it to go to and it only occurred to me that really that was the melody — it’s just that eight-bar phrase.

And so I finished the song off and I remember I was going into the city with a group. And it was Saturday night — it was the only time we could get studio time [laughs]. I actually realized I hadn’t finished the lyrics. I wrote most of the lyric in the taxi going to the studio, very quickly. Recorded it, and it certainly wasn’t a hit single for England, for a start, almost all singles in those days, you had to have a dance sensibility, you know, and you couldn’t do that.

And so I sent it to The Carpenters and Richard [Carpenter] called me at four o’clock in the morning and he said, ‘This line about sleeping pills...’

I said, ‘the sleeping pills I took were just a waste of time.’

‘So... we can’t sing that — we don’t sing anything about drugs.’

[Thinks] Oh... God.

‘Can you rewrite the lyric? We’re here for another [so many] hours.’

So I rewrote the lyric. In fact, the lyric I wrote was *better*. And I phoned through to the studio, to A&M Studios, and *they’d gone home!* And I thought: I’d been up hours writing this and they couldn’t even hang around. That irritated me.

And so, a few weeks later, Bones Howe was in London, who I knew, and I played him the demo and he loved it. And went back, and the rest is history, as they say.”

DC: “Well
Marilyn McCoo is probably thanking Karen Carpenter for turning it down, every day. She did a great job.

TM: [Laughs]

DC: “
Elton John & Tim Rice — I didn’t find a song that you did with them.”

TM: “Yeah, because the song I did with Elton John is under the name Reg Dwight, before he became Elton John...”

DC: “Ah... right!”

TM: “And it’s called, ‘Lord You Made the Night Too Long.’” And the song I wrote with Tim Rice, we never, we did a demo of it and we never did anything with it, so... But I did write with him.”

DC: “
Polly Brown. I never heard of her or Picketywitch before, but Man, she has a Dionne Warwick thing goin’ on, doesn’t she?”

TM: “Yeah, well that was it. She was a Dionne Warwick sort of sound-alike.”

[AUDIO CLIP: ‘Same Old Feeling’ by Pickettywitch]

TM: “That was a band that John [Macleod] had, and that was a B-side. And really, John’s involvement with that is zero, although it’s got his name on it, because I wrote the chorus as a B-side to a song. Just the chorus, with another verse, on The Foundations’ first album, that appears (that song) with a different melody — just the chorus melody, and all the rest of it is different. And then, when I was working with The Hollies, I re-wrote the song with
Tony Hicks — but he didn’t — at the end of it he said ‘I don’t think this is really us.’ I said, ‘Well don’t you want your name on it?’ He said, ‘No.’ Then John went and used it with Picketywitch and it was [a] top-five hit.”

DC: “And I just wanted to mention that I thought that “Any Old Time You’re Feelin’ Lonely & Sad’ by The Foundations had a
Gilbert O’Sullivan feel to it.”

[AUDIO CLIP: ‘Any Old Time You’re Feelin’ Lonely & Sad’ by The Foundations]

TM: “Yeah, well they were entirely the wrong band to do it with. The guy had a very rough voice. And the song, it was okay. Had we done it with a different artist, it might’ve been a hit, but it never quite clicked to me.”

DC: “You went from your songwriting era to writing books. Was that the right order?”

TM: “Yeah.” DC: “Writing fiction, right?”

TM: “Mmm-hmm.”

DC: “What caused you to change and focus your energy and attention on writing books? What was happening in the music world at that time?”

TM: “Well, I was in my forties, you know. The record industry is a young person’s game and the music was changing. I’d really run out of things I wanted to do with pop music. i didn’t identify with much that was happening at the time. My mother had — I had a novelist in my family.

I read a line in a newspaper one day which gave me an idea and wrote a book. The first book I wrote was called, ‘Sayanara.’ The second book I wrote was called, ‘Enemy of the State.’ And I got a quote from the novelist,
Jack Higgins, who was huge at the time, saying that this was the best thing of its kind since ‘Day of the Jackal.’ And I was the next big thing, or something. And of course I sold it all over the world as a result. And as I was coming out of a very expensive divorce, that was a very nice development. And I wrote another book called, ‘Brutal Truth.’

And then I came up with the idea of going to
Brighton University where I live in England and saying look, I’ve changed my career from being a songwriter to a novelist and there’s a very specific way, a very technique I’ve used to do it, you know, I think I could pass it on to other people. And I taught four years at the university and I had a very, very high percentage of people who got book deals. One guy, who, to this day is one of the biggest novelists in England — he’s had four number one hits with historical novels. That was my student. And I had a lot of fun doing that.”

DC: “We should mention there’s another author named Tony Macaulay’ who’s spelled the same way and is not you.”

TM: “Yes, he’s an Irish activist and sportsman, I think.” DC: “How many books have you written?” TM: “Well, I wrote three that did well and the difficulty is I could churn them out, it would take me about a year to research them, and a year to write them, and theater started to come back into my life.

I mean, theater was what I wanted to do right from the beginning, you know, when I was young. And that came back into my life again in quite a spectacular way. A hit show I’d written in the 80s was on in lots of theaters in America and Germany and various places.

And then I got offers to do other shows. And this gave me the chance to combine the book writing with songwriting. And it’s songwriting of an entirely different nature because you’re using very many more techniques to write showtunes then you are in pop music.”

DC: “You set up an association with the
Cocoa Village Playhouse in Cocoa Beach, Florida.” 4

TM: “Yes, you know the area. It’s outside Orlando. It’s Orlando’s beach front, effectively, and there’s a sort of Greenwich Village-style area there, dating from the 20s, and it has a state-of-the-art Broadway house, well it is for the last seven or eight years. They spent millions on it, it’s got absolutely every facility a Broadway house would have. Plus they’ve got brilliant funding. And I’ve had seven wonderful years doing — I did five productions for them.”

DC: “Oh, *five!*”

TM: “Yeah. And two completely-from-scratch musicals. And it’s been an absolute joy. I’ve had the time of my life.”

DC: “I understand they all sold really well. Is there any chance that any of us will get to see them that weren’t there?”

TM: “Well, the trouble with the ‘Build Me Up, Buttercup,’ musical, which was the first, original one I wrote, is that the publishing situation’s a *nightmare,* because [the songs in the show] they’re all [with] different publishers. And to do the thing in any other context outside of the community theater situation would require an enormous amount of money to acquire all the different rights necessary.”

DC: “Gotcha.”

TM: “And it became so complicated that I didn’t pursue it a great deal further. They’re gonna do the show again, quite possibly, and I’m gonna do it in a way that I *can* actually get around some of these issues.

I write the book, music and the lyrics. I had about five, six hit songs in it, the rest were original. And then more recently I’ve done a show called ‘Sherlock in Love,’ which was Sherlock vs. Jack the Ripper, where he falls in love with sort of a vaudeville star along the way. I had a lot of fun with that. It was an entirely new thing for me to write to sort of English traditional musical like ‘My Fair Lady’ or ‘Oliver.’ That style, you know, as opposed to writing a pop musical. So that’s been a huge adventure.” DC: “Well when you did the ones with music, what were the sizes of the bands that you worked with?”

TM: “Fifteen pieces, as a rule, which for theater these days is huge. Eighteen pieces in some cases. With a whole section of horns — real strings, backed up with a string synthesizer. And when we had pop bands, we’d have, you know, the whole works: two guitars, bass, drums, percussion.”

DC: “Were you a consultant or did you actually rehearse the band?”

TM: “I did all the arrangements on ProTools, for those who know about these things, it means you can completely clone the whole orchestra sound, which has innumerable benefits, one of which is, by the time you actually get the live band into the pit and hear them first time, you know every note of the score already and you know that it works to the extent that it does with synthesized instruments. Which saves a huge amount of time and a lot of cost in changing things around afterward.

So I did all the arrangements on ProTools and then had it expanded out for the different instruments individually. And I wrote all the underscore which is great fun to do. And wrote the whole play and cast it and drew out the initial drawings for the set designs, which were hugely complicated. These great big sets, great fun. And so on and so forth. So I was intimately involved with every part of it.”

DC: “In preparation for this interview, I went back and re-read — I still have this
Songwriter Magazine I bought in 1978...”

TM: “Wow.”

DC: “You’re interviewed in there, and you talked about a Laurel & Hardy musical, which I’ve never heard you talk about [since then]...”

TM: “Well, the two principal people involved with that both had heart attacks, within about a year of each other. And without the stars attached to it, it became almost impossible to cast. We went to... this is a musical, as you say, based on the lives of Laurel & Hardy. There are other difficulties with it, too. Because they’re os famous, a lot of stars didn’t want to play people that were that famous because they felt the comparisons that would be made would be, as Shakespeare put it, ‘odious.’

There was another musical dealing with that era which was the
Mack Sennett musical, what was was that called? ‘Mack & Mabel,’ that’s it Mack & Mabel dealt with the early days of movies and talkies and all that and it kind of stole our thunder to a large extent. And so we felt that really had had its time.

But it wasn’t wasted because I was able to use a lot of the songs in other projects. I actually think almost every song. One of the songs I recorded with Gladys Knight, another song I recorded with David Soul. And so it really was not a wasted exercise.”

DC: “Very nice. So let me ask you a question here that’s multi-part, and you can pick and choose whatever you want to talk about. One of them is: How did your writing skills as a songwriter prepare you for musicals and/or how has your songwriting process changed over the years, and/or in what ways has your songwriting style, or your lyric writing voice changed over time? Pick what you like.”

TM: “Well, I’ll just combine ‘em. The first thing to say about musicals is that you’ve got to know the history of musicals and you’ve got to understand what music is *meant to do* in a musical. And the songs in a musical — a few can entertain, especially you’re a show-within-the-show. In ‘
South Pacific,’ when Nellie Forbush sings, ‘A Hundred & One Pounds of Fun,’ it’s just a song *in a show*.

So a small percentage of the songs can just entertain. But in general, they must either develop the character, develop plot, develop the world of the piece in which the story’s set, or in some way advance the piece. Otherwise, you run the risk of people saying you’re just shoving songs in, slowing down the action of the story. And songs get in the way as opposed to doing a job.

And so whenever any character has anything of note to say in a musical, they should sing it. That’s why there are never any long speeches in musicals, because the two things are mutually exclusive.

So the next thing to say is that when you’ve got maybe fourteen, sixteen, eighteen songs in a show, you’ve got to bring the changes. Having everything in 4/4 time, you know, 120 beats a minute, would be absolutely dreadful. I mean there *are* plenty of jukebox musical that do that, but then we know all the songs beforehand and we make allowances. And so, largely, do the critics. But when you listen to the music of the great composers of musicals —
Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe, and so forth — they will use a whole range of different tempos, time signatures and so on, to *bring the changes,* so that you get a sense of the whole, as opposed to a bunch of songs just shoved together. And therefore...

Also, it’s very important to try to maintain energy in one musical. So perhaps twenty years ago you had a ballad in Act One, but you don’t have any ballads in Act One now. Very seldom.
Alan Menkin, who wrote one of the Disney musicals, breaks the rule. But you’re trying to push the thing on as hard as you can and so you’re trying to bear in mind all these elements when you’re writing a musical.

And the most important thing about writing a musical is to choose the right subject in the first place. Choose something that’s not so beloved that adding music to it is gonna to upset the purists, but not so unknown that people can’t identify with the story.

And so, it’s a very, very delicate balancing act. The best musicals, you don’t go more than three or four pages without something sung, even if it’s a reprise of something else.”

DC: “It sounds like when a pop star tried to enter the world of country music in the old days, right? ‘You can’t change that — you can’t be different!’”

TM: [Laughs]

DC: “...the country music style.”

TM: “So, you’re looking to create a whole musical tableau with the songs, where each of the key members of the — key characters will have a moment, a motif that’s theirs, if you like that you can bring back again and again. And you might maybe want a duet when the lovers fall in love, you want an eleven o’clock ballad, an eleventh-hour ballad that one of the leads sing at the high point of the drama, fifteen minutes before the end of Act Two.

There’s a great deal of tradition about writing musicals. You wanna bookend both acts with really strong musical moments, but bring the curtain up and down with some impact, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So it’s the thought that you put in before you write a single word of the show that’s crucial. Picking the moments where you put the songs correctly. Where the songs actually do a job and embellish the project, as opposed to slowing it down to a great, sludgy, un-seaworthy thing.

And so yes, a basis in pop music is only helpful, because a mistake I made with some of the early musicals I wrote, donkeys years ago, was I the most important is to show off one’s capacity to be a good musician, where as really, the critics the public are asking the same thing of most musicals as they are a pop song: they want to come out singing the music, not the scenery. And therefore, you are obligated to have as memorable a score as you can.

Some of the great writers of musicals, the most memorable songs are incredibly simple. And so if you just want to use it as a show-off opportunity to impress people with how much you’ve learned, then you’ve got the wrong idea entirely. It’s certainly true that you can use a lot more technique in shows that you do in pop music, but that’s just an occasional bonus.

Did I answer all your questions?”

DC: “No, it was wonderful. We’re just trying to get like, things that songwriters think about. Are there youthful points of view that, as an older person, whose lived through some things — maybe divorce or disappointments or whatever — that you wouldn’t be as quick to embrace today in your writing, or do you think its still okay to write a happy-go-lucky love song, or whatever?”

TM: “Men never cry in my songs — I hate that. No, I don’t think things have changed at all in terms of what songs are about. Unrequited love, love gone wrong, longing songs, brave songs. I suppose ‘Love Grows’ is a happy-go-lucky song, now that I think about it. But they’re very untypical of what I do. I mean, I tend to be... the songs that have an emotional impact usually are fairly sad.

I wrote a song called (which my wife particularly loves, which Gladys Knight recorded, which is from the Laurel & Hardy show, originally, although no one knows it) called, ‘We Don’t Make Each Other Laugh Anymore.’ Which is an unremittingly miserable song. I try not to write those.

I used to say that if you’re going to write a sad song or a torch song, then you should end on an element of hope. A sort of ‘someday, maybe we’ll meet again and everything will be alright.’ Because otherwise, the song takes on a sort of self-pitying kind of element. You know, pity party songs usually don’t work in the end. They leave the wrong emotion in the listener’s mind.”

DC: “Let’s just say from the 80s for the heck of it, I’m just gonna arbitrarily pick the 80s to today — has any songwriter come along that’s changed the way you write?”

TM: “No. I mean, I started off as a child listening to my mother play Rodgers & Hammerstein on the piano and
Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. I’m a real film buff of the 30s and 40s era, you know. So I know all the scores of most of these shows on piano, or most of the key songs. And then, as we go through, obviously [Gerry] Goffin and [Carole] King and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, but if you’re talking what really got me going was Burt Bacharach and Hal David and Holland-Dozier-Holland. And I kind of took the lilting, melodic quality of Bacharach in my mind and put it against the grinding rhythms of Holland-Dozier-Holland and came up with a new kind of style and that got me sort of noticed. And I’d like to think I did my own thing and came up with a song that was more recognizably mine.

Then, having got to that place, I stopped being influenced by other writers as much, to the point that when I’m writing, I never listen to music. I don’t want to worry that I’m absorbing the wrong elements from them.”

DC: “I love that sound byte you just gave about Burt Bacharach and Holland-Dozier-Holland because if people go back and listen to your catalogue, especially with The Foundations, you’re gonna hear that solo trumpet, at times in the arrangement, and you’ll hear the bass line that’s doing the Motown thing. Or even in ‘Buttercup,’ it’s sort of a Motown bass line.”

TM: “Oh, very much so, yeah. In my head, often when I was singing, I was
Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops, in another life. They didn’t record anything of mine, which was always a great sadness to me. I’ve been told two songs they recorded were mine, but I can’t find any record of them.

I don’t think, after a certain period, I felt that I wanted to model myself on anyone else. I just thought whatever comes out, for better or worse, is mine.”

DC: “That’s right. Well, you’ve had at least four soundtracks that have used your songs so far: ‘There’s Something About Mary,’ ‘Heartbreakers,’ ‘Shallow Hal,’ and ‘Starsky & Hutch.’”

TM: “There’s been a couple more, there’s ‘Conjuring 2.’ That’s a funny story, actually. ‘Conjuring 2’ was just a pretty big picture last year. And we went to see it ‘cause we knew we ha “Don’t Give Up On Us’ in it, and they just paid a pretty hefty [] check to use it. And we’re all laughing. This girl’s sitting on a bed in it, it’s set in England in 1975 or something. And David Soul, there’s a big poster of him on the wall. And she takes off her headphones, and you hear just ‘Don’t give up on us, baby, don’t —‘ and that’s all you hear. And they paid tens of thousands of dollars to use it. We thought, either they shouldn’t have used it, or they should’ve used *more* of it. It was a complete waste of money from their point of view, but a very happy moment for us.”

DC: “Exactly. None of them needed permission, right? Or did they?”

TM: “Oh, yeah.”

DC: “To cover a song, just to sing it, you don’t need permission but to put in a movie you do?”

TM: “Synchronization rights. Sync rights. To use it with a commercial or film. You have to pay the standard rate. And for a Hollywood-based movie it’s a lot of money.”

DC: “Well I just want to say one more time — the last time we talked, I mentioned that the Guardians of the Galaxy series is using songs that are right up your alley, they’re right from your era, and I hope you get placed in the third movie when the third one comes.”

TM: [Laughs]

DC: “They sell like crazy, it’s like, it’s Marvel, it’s gonna be doing gangbusters business for ya.

My last topic is legacy. I just wanna cover a few things here that I read about. You knocked yourself out of number one with another number one, didn’t you?”

TM: “Yes. That was crazy. Well, the first hit I had was ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You,’ and a wonderful blues singer who never had a pop hit came to me and wanted me to record him. So I did a sort of Drifters-type ballad called ‘
Let the Heartaches Begin.’ It was a kind of ‘Save the Last Dance For Me’ kind of thing in my head. Not rhythmically, but that was the mood in terms of the lyric. And we recorded it and it shot straight up the charts in two weeks. Knocked my own number one off the top position. I’m the only person ever to do that, and I had number and number two, and then the other way up. So I was also the first person to do that. Everyone said ‘what an achievement.’ And I said, ‘No, it’s not that, it’s the worst planning in history!’ Steal their own number one. Quite the reverse is true.”

DC: “So that was the second story I was gonna ask you about. It sounds like it was related. Three songs on the charts at once, is that what you had?”

TM: “I think three’s the most I had in the top ten at once, yeah. I had two in the top ten quite a long time, on and off from ‘67 to about ‘77. They came along like busses — I’d go along for a year with nothing and then have two go into the top ten at the same time, and it happened quite a few times. But I only had three in the charts once, I think.”

DC: “If my calculations are correct (I tried to do the math, here), was it 1986 that you played for the queen’s 60th birthday?”

TM: “Yes, I think it might’ve been, yeah, that’s right.”

DC: “Solo or with a band and was it...”

TM: “Oh, no, no, no. They approached me and asked me to write a queen’s birthday song. And I came up with this really quite complicated piece. It was like a child’s song. But I wanted to write the big
[Edward] Elgar, you know, ‘Happy Birthday, Ma’am, God Bless You...’ — huge anthem thing. So we compromised and I wrote a sort of childish verse about going to the palace to sing to the queen and then had it modulate... It was a crazy thing to do for six thousand kids to sing, to have it change time, feel — time signature, tempo, feel, key, and then go back again. Plus it was hugely range-y. But I thought, if we don’t tell them, they won’t know it’s hard. And so, on the day, six thousand kids sang it perfectly from start to finish. I mean, we never rehearsed together. They’d only rehearsed in schools, you know. It was the biggest rehearsed musical event in British history.”

DC: “Fantastic. On behalf of songwriters everywhere, I wanna thank you for your role in making music contracts more fair.”
TM: [Laughs]

DC: “Now will you *please* get to work on making streaming pay more fairly? That’s your next task.”

TM: “Yeah, that would be good, wouldn’t it?”

DC: “What do you feel the Internet, Wikipedia or history gets wrong, or misunderstands or completely misses about you, if anything?”

TM: “Not much. I mean, I never looked for awards. I never even thought about them, if you ring up and say I’ve got to go to this thing, I say, ‘Why?’ I think the less I thought about it the more I won and whenever I thought about it, I didn’t win.

So I’ve had a huge amount of things to be grateful for. I’m still living well, off all the money, in a very happily, enjoying retirement. I don’t have too many regrets anymore. Obviously I wish I hadn’t signed such a spurious contract, and spent seven years in court trying to get out of it, but every other writer did and they just didn’t fight to get out.

And you can’t turn the clock back and think ‘if only I’d done this if only I’d done that. So all in all, I’m just happy that I was able to spend my whole career something I’d have done for nothing or even paid to do. And I have very few regrets.”

DC: “That’s a great place to finish up. Do you have anything coming up that you want to tell us about?"

TM: “No.”

DC: “I’m gonna tell everybody to go visit so they can see more about you.”

TM: “No I don’t. For the first time in my life, since last May, when really I just ran out of ideas and ran out of energy for doing all this. I mean the last musical I did, to put it on took over ninety people a night. And I was involved with every area of it and I found it quite extraordinarily tiring, even though nothing went wrong at any point, it all went... it couldn’t have gone more smoothly, I did find it tiring. It struck me it was kind of time to hang my boots up before I did myself some damage.

And I paint in oils and I do carpentry, and I have a beautiful time with my lovely wife. And that’s good enough at this point, at seventy three, thank you. [Laughs]”

DC: “[Laughs] You’ve got an amazing amount of work behind you already and we look forward to whatever comes next. And I want to thank you so much for talking with us.”

TM: “Okay, it’s a pleasure.”


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