Diamonds Are Forever: The Don Black Songbook  22382

  • 00:02:00 Originally wanted to be a comedian. Link between comedy and lyric writing
  • 00:03:00 Collecting rhymes. Not great at English at school, but loved songs.
  • 00:03:30 On meeting Matt Monro. Managed Matt for 20 years. Was opposite of diva; unimpressed by showbusiness and celebrity.
  • 00:07:50 First song was for a Jewish wedding: ‘There’s no smoke without salmon’. Notebooks of rhymes, which seem at first sight unusable.
  • 00:09:00 Title songs in movies in the 1960s.
  • 00:10:00 Lyrics meant to be sung not read.
  • 00:17:00 Is Musical Theatre a different discipline?
  • 00:18:00 “Three people changed my life from a career point-of-view: Matt Monro, John Barry and the great Andrew Lloyd Webber [in audience]”
  • 00:27:00 Michael Grade: “Not ‘and Don Black’. Black: I was writing with John Barry, but he moved to America for 40 years. “I’ve often envied people like Kander & Ebb who’ve stayed together for many years”. “But it’s been fun going from Quincy Jones to Henry Mancini.”
  • 00:33:00 On John Barry: “I was writing with him for over 40 years and yet I remember the lunches more than the songs, because John, he had great taste. He was a bit of a James Bond character himself before James Bond … he drove a white Maserati, he wore the best suits, he was always surrounded by beautiful women, but when it came to eating he ate like a ballerina, he was very skinny. I remember, Michael Caine once presented him with an award and he said ‘This is the first time I’ve presented an award and it’s heavier than the recipient'”.
  • 00:39:15 What makes a Bond song: “Provocative, seductive, and have the whiff of the boudoir about it … the law of the forbidden. I also think Shirley Bassey should sing them all.” “Everyone is a Bond fan”. [In response to Grade saying it’s “masculine, muscular music”]: “And yet you do get tender things, you get ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ which Louis Armstrong sang, a very tender love song. Many moods of Bond.”
  • 00:59:30 [Grade: Very different writing songs where the characters are given to you …] “In a musical the lyricist’s job is to illuminate the character, further the story. And I got hooked straight away because in a musical you can write about tragedy, disappointment, you can write about any subject … in a pop song you’re looking for a hook, but in a musical you can really have a verbal firework display.” [On collaborative nature of a musical, as opposed to solitary lyric-writing, you’ve got to fit into that] “It’s not a hardship, it’s a joy, you create a whole new family when you start a musical …”
  • 01:04:30


    Maxine (The Don Black Memorial Home for Old Rhymes)
    • music by Richard Stilgoe
    • words by Don Black, Richard Stilgoe
    Some Of Us Belong to the Stars
    from Billy
    • music by John Barry
    • words by Don Black
    Amigos Para Siempre
    • music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • words by Don Black
    Born Free
    from Born Free
    • music by John Barry
    • words by Don Black
    On Days Like These
    from The Italian Job
    • music by Quincy Jones
    • words by Don Black
    Tell Me on a Sunday
    from Tell Me on a Sunday
    • music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • words by Don Black
    • music by Walter Scharf
    • words by Don Black
    To Sir With Love
    • music by Marc London
    • words by Don Black
    Walk Away
    • music by Udo Jürgens
    • words by Don Black
    Diamonds Are Forever
    from Diamonds Are Forever
    • music by John Barry
    • words by Don Black
    from Thunderball
    • music by John Barry
    • words by Don Black
    The Man with the Golden Gun
    from The Man with the Golden Gun
    • words by John Barry
    As If We Never Said Goodbye
    from Sunset Boulevard
    • music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • words by Christopher Hampton, Don Black
    With One Look
    from Sunset Boulevard
    • music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • words by Amy Powers, Christopher Hampton, Don Black
    Love Changes Everything
    from Aspects of Love
    • music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • words by Charles Hart, Don Black
    Take That Look Off Your Face
    from Song and Dance
    • music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • words by Don Black
    Total items: 16

    Topics covered by this tv

    1. Stephen Ward (drama) • 01:04:45 • On having looked for 20 years for another project with Christopher Hampton and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Andrew called with the idea.
    2. Some Of Us Belong to the Stars (music) • 01:01:00 • Black: This was John Barry's favourite song from the musical.
    3. Born Free (music) • 00:34:00 • Black: "I have a theory, you know, luck plays a very big part in a songwriter's career. I have this theory that behind every successful songwriter is an astonished mother-in-law. The producer of Born Free, Carl Foreman, did not like John's melody and he wasn't happy with my lyric; he wanted it more about cages and jungles and things like that, and he said I made too much of a social comment about it. However, when it won the Oscar and that night Dean Martin gave it to me, Carl Foreman came up to me at the party afterwards and said 'Well, it does grow on you' ... One night we [Matt Monro and Black's families] went to a premiere and it wasn't in the film, Carl Foreman actually took it out. But the song became a big hit in America and so they quickly, to make it eligible for the Academy Award, made sure it was in every print ..." [Michael Grade: they released the song as a single] Black: "not with Matt, with Roger Williams and his orchestra, it was a big hit in America."
    4. On Days Like These (music) • 00:28:00 • "The assignment with Quincy Jones was The Italian Job ... and it was very difficult for Quincy because Quincy's background is very much with those great jazz people like Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine, Billie Holiday ... mainly an arranger/producer, not really a songwriter. And our brief ... was to write a summery song, and he found it so difficult. I said 'we've got to write something like 'Volare', or 'Come prima', 'Cuando Calienta Il Sol', one of those summery songs. And he stared at his piano for hours and hours and couldn't come up with anything. I finally gave him a title 'On Days Like These' and he still stared at the piano. And I went round the block – he had an apartment in Marble Arch - and I tell you, it took him for ever and ever to come up with such a simple thing, but it worked and it is beautiful, but, when you hear it, it sounds so easy, but ..."
    5. Bar Mitzvah Boy (drama) • 00:18:00 • Black: "I wrote a musical called Bar Mitzvah Boy, with Jule Styne, which didn't do very well, but Andrew [Lloyd Webber] saw something in the lyrics and he invited me for lunch" leading to Tell Me on a Sunday.
    6. Maybe That’s Your Problem (drama) • 00:17:00 • Cited by Black as his first, unsuccessful musical about a boy "who gets overexcited, over-aroused around women" ... "ironically, the show didn't last long either. Alan Jay Lerner said I should have called it 'Shortcomings'. There weren't any ballads in the show. There just wasn't time."
    7. Billy (drama) • 00:17:00 • Cited by Black as being his first successful musical.
    8. Billy (drama) • 01:00:30 • "Billy was particularly happy. It was John Barry's idea, it was based on Billy Liar ... I remember when it opened, with Michael Crawford, who was wonderful in it, and I remember the next day, it was a huge hit. And the producer, a wonderful Viennese man called Peter Witt, he took us to Burke's[?] restaurant in Bond Street, he took Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, John Barry and me. And he said, "You boys will never be as happy as you are today. You have a hit show in the West End and you are all healthy.""
    9. Ben (music) • 00:15:45 • "It was a very friendly rat ..." Black wrote about friendship, not about a rat. "I couldn't find a rhyme for Rentokill". One of Michael's favourite songs, according to Black. Loved the middle-eight, "I used to say 'I and me', / Now it's 'us', now it's 'we'".
    10. To Sir With Love (music) • 00:09:00 • Black wrote the lyric to this before writing the tune (Marc London not mentioned), as director of film said it was very important it was right; Black and Grade discuss the line "How can you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?" "The lyric has to hug the contours of the melody ... it's the way it sings, it's not just the way it's read."
    11. Tea for Two (music) • 00:10:00 • Example given by Black of a song which sounds silly when read but works when sung "Picture you upon my knee".
    12. Tell Me on a Sunday (drama) • 00:18:20 • Black on project that arose from lunch, following Lloyd Webber seeing Bar Mitzvah Boy. "'Do you fancy doing a one-woman show. He wanted to do something small." Michael Grade asks how difficult it is to write from a woman's point of view. Black: "you write from a woman's point of view because you're sensitive to women's feelings. But Alan Jay Lerner was American and he wrote My Fair Lady. I wrote Bombay Dreams and I've never been further than Southall. I don't think it matters."
    13. Mad About the Boy (music) • 00:02:30 • Black inspired by the line "this odd diversity of misery and joy"
    14. Thunderball (music) • 00:40:45 • Black: "I looked it up in the dictionary and it wasn't there ... so I used it as a kind of a code. But I went to the session with Tom Jones ... we wanted Tom Jones because it was that muscular sound ... But there was a major problem on the day because ... he sang it beautifully in one take but on the last note he fainted ... it was a blood-rush thing and he wobbled and I thought 'Oh, my God' ... but John Barry said, 'No, I'm happy with the first take' ... He still sings the song, but he's lowered the key."
    15. Cry Me a River (music) • 00:02:30 • On being inspired by the rhyme "told me love was too plebeian, / Told me you were through with me 'n' ..."
    16. Take That Look Off Your Face (music) • 00:19:00 • Black: "One always tries to look for a universal theme in a song if you can; something people can recognise themselves in. I always think I've cracked it when someone says 'I've felt that' ... as they have done with Tell Me on a Sunday ... so many people wrote to me, so many women, saying 'How do you know my life?' It is a funny thing but, you know, if you can strike that honesty and truth in a lyric, it pays dividends."
    17. Sunset Boulevard (drama) • 01:10:30 • Black: watched film many times before writing it, and loved it. "And I loved Hollywood films. In Hackney I used to live at the cinema, between the cinema and the Hackney Empire. So it was Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney by day and Max Miller and Ann Shelton at night ... Sunset Boulevard was a dream assignment ... On the opening night, Billy Wilder said to Christopher Hampton 'You boys are very clever ... you didn't change anything!' ... It was dark, I think it's one of Andrew's best scores. I think it's a thrilling piece. Again, it's that theme that so many people can relate to about a woman who is past it, really, but she's clinging to that dream. And anyone in this business, who's been in it for some time, love's to play it. It's been played by so many people ... it touches a lot of nerves."
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                [0] => Michael Grade*presenter**Don Black*interviewee

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