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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

The Sgt. Pepper’s Album Cover: Faces in the Crowd

The Sgt. Pepper’s Album Cover: Faces in the Crowd

| March 30, 2017 | 17 Comments

As the definitive snapshot of ‘60s pop culture, artist Peter Blake’s Sgt. Pepper cover was unlike anything the world had ever seen—and almost half a century later it’s still iconic Beatles.

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The Story Behind “Mardi Gras Mambo” and “Iko Iko”

The Story Behind “Mardi Gras Mambo” and “Iko Iko”

| February 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

Mardi Gras and music go together like red beans and rice and coffee and beignets. Here’s the story behind two songs that are Fat Tuesday favorites: “Iko Iko” and “Mardi Gras Mambo.”

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The Story Behind “Strawberry Fields Forever” & “Penny Lane”

The Story Behind “Strawberry Fields Forever” & “Penny Lane”

| February 18, 2017 | 5 Comments

In Feb. 1967 the Beatles released a double-A side single of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” which opened the doors to the wonders of Sgt. Pepper. Here’s the story.

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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 | 101 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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