Interview by Stanley Naftaly on Jazz Straight Ahead KCSB-FM 91.9
Alan Bergman and his wife Marilyn head the planet-wide list of today’s song lyricists. This phone interview was triggered because Alan, with Bill Cantos on piano and Trey Henry on bass and supported by Santa Barbara’s favorite jazz chanteuse, Tierney Sutton, was scheduled to perform at the Lobero Theatre Saturday evening, May 17, 2014 at 7:30.
Jazz Straight Ahead, KCSB-FM
S Alan, thank you for being with us.
A Thank you for having me.
S So, your long career together has made you and Marilyn one of music’s premiere lyricist teams. And I understand that, at 12 years old, you already knew you wanted to be a song writer.
A Yeah, it was more than wanting, I had to be a song writer.
S You had to be a song writer. I’m interested in how that came about and in particular, how your family life prepared you for that early decision.
A Well musically, if you were Jewish and you lived in Brooklyn, when you were a child, when you were six years old you got piano lessons. That was automatic.
So, I got piano lessons and I loved that and I’d sit by the radio in those days and listen to the bands. It was the early start of the Swing Band Era; Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller and so forth. And it’s interesting because their songs – what they played, the pitch was wonderful. They were really great songs. And those were the songs that molded the opinions of listeners all over the country. It was the time of the musical environment in this country when the people who were picking the songs were musicians, they weren’t A&R men, they weren’t executives of record companies, they were musicians and they had great taste. You heard Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and those wonderful people, composers and lyricists in those days. You heard them because of these new good songs. And I heard them as a kid and I said, “God, that’s wonderful. I have to do that.” It was the generation that was influenced and listened and took it in like osmosis.