Jeff Barry- I Honestly Like Him!

February 10, 2007

jeff-w-mustahe.jpg

Songwriter and Producer Jeff Barry, is always someone I’ve looked up to…and not just because he’s about a foot taller than me! Before I got into the music buisness, I remember first seeing Jeff’s name on one of my favorite records, “Tell Laura I Love Her” (Raleigh/ Barry) by Ray Peterson, and paying attention to his creative output ever since.

The first time I met him was in 1650 Broadway at the office of Paul Vance (“Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”) where I was putting the finishing touches on a song I had written with with Ellie Greenwich and Danny Jordan (the Detergents), “You Should’ve Told Me”, that the Angels were about to record. I was introduced to Jeff when he came in to pick up his Fiance Ellie, for lunch.

While Danny and I sat daydreaming of songwriting superstardom collaborating with this talented lady on dozens of future hits, Jeff had plans of his own. He and Ellie, had started writing with Phil Spector and created songs that not only would become instant classics but would define the 60’s as well, including “Be My Baby”, for the Ronettes, “Do Wah Diddy” for Manfred Mann and “River Deep, Mountain High” for Ike and Tina Turner. Jeff’s love of Doo-Wop, Ellie’s affinity towards girl groups and Phil’s ability to mold the songs they all had written into a “Wall Of Sound”, made for an unbeatable combonation!

Jeff and Ellie sang together as the Raindrops, and co-produced Neil Diamond’s first hits, “Solitary Man”, “Cherry, Cherry” and worked with Shadow Morton, on “Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand)”, and “Leader Of The Pack” by the Shangri-las and “Chapel Of Love”, by the Dixie Cups. When their marriage ended , so did their collaboration with Phil Spector and Jeff started producing on his own. After a successful string of hits with the Monkees, “I’m A Believer”, “A Little Bit You, A Little Bit Me”, and the Archies, “Sugar, Sugar”, “Bang Shang -a-Lang”…his creativity took a new turn.

I didn’t see Jeff for a couple years, then while I was visiting my friend songwriter, Paul Williams (“We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Old Fashioned Love Song”) on the A&M Records lot. Jeff, who had just signed a co-publishing deal with Irving/ Almo Music, came in and played me a song he had written, “Walking In The Sun”

Walkin’ In The Sun

Words and music by Jeff Barry

Well, things have been goin’ wrong long enough to know when everything’s just right
I’ve been walking in the dark long enough to know when I’ve finally seen the light
I’ve been losing long enough to know when I finally have won
And even the blind man can tell when he’s walking in the sun.

Well, I’ve cried enough tears to recognize this feeling of a smile
I’ve been bottom rung long enough to know when I’m doing it in style
I’ve been running long enough to know when there’s no more need to run
(O Lord) Even the blind man can tell when he’s walking in the sun.

The wind is at my back and I’m sailing on a ship long overdue
I’ve blown so many chances, I ain’t gonna blow this one with you
And I’ve seen enough bad times to know when the good times have begun
O Lord – Even the blind man can tell when he’s walking in the sun

(Oh yeah) Even the blind man can tell when he’s walking in the sun.

Copyright 1973 Irving Music/Jeff Barry International, administered by BMI.

I sat there with my mouth dropped open, fighting back a tear. I always admired and respected Jeff for his ability to tap into the teen market and realistically express their emotions…but I realized his writing had reached a new level. Although I was working for Warner Brothers Music as general Professional Manager, and it was my job to plug my companies songs, I gave a demo of “Walking In The Sun” to my friend, Bob Monoco who recorded it the following week with Chaka Kahn and her group Rufus!

It was years later that I learned that the song was written for his father, who was blind and only this morning did I read the complete story behind the song, in Jeff’s own words on his official website.

The next time I placed one of Jeff’s songs, it was in a more of an “official” capacity. I was hired to run Irving/ Almo, and on my first day on the job, I gave Olivia Newton John, “I Honestly Love You”, that Jeff wrote with the late Peter Allan, which became the record of the year in 1974!

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

For Jeff Barry’s Official Website http://lpintop.tripod.com/jeffbarry/

Special thanks to Laura Pinto http://laurapinto.tripod.com/

For the complete story behind, “I Honestly Love You”

https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/09/13/olivia-newton-john-tries-to-squeeze-one-more-hit-out-of-jeff-barry-and-artie-wayne/

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16 Responses to “Jeff Barry- I Honestly Like Him!”

  1. Laura Says:

    Hi Artie,

    What a nice tribute to one of the greats – a legendary songwriter, producer, and musician whom we are proud to call a friend. Your essay wonderfully illustrates that the genius of Jeff Barry knows no boundaries … as you point out, from his first hit record, “Tell Laura I Love Her” (that title has a nice ring to it) in 1960 to his work with Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector and Shadow Morton right on through his wonderful productions for The Monkees and The Archies (for whom he also composed) and so on into the 70’s when he took his talent to L.A. and continued cranking out hits like “I Honestly Love You,” Jeff was, and remains, a major force in the music business. His songs are everywhere, and he has touched the lives of more people than you or I or he could possibly know.

    Thank you for such a wonderful essay on the big guy, and special thanks for reproducing the lyrics to “Walkin’ In The Sun,” which is my favorite Jeff Barry song – possibly my favorite all-time song, if such a thing exists – and a true masterpiece. Thanks also for the acknowledgment and web links; very much appreciated.

    Laura

  2. Mick Patrick Says:

    Great story, Artie, as ever. Y’know, “Walkin’ In The Sun” is one of the few Jeff Barry songs I’ve never heard. I really must rectify that, sharpish. I know, I’ll ask the lovely Laura to play it for me. I bet she’s reading this!

    Hey la,

    Mick Patrick

  3. Barry oslander Says:

    Artie:
    Here is a Jeff Barry story for you that I am sure not many know. When I was engineering at Associated Recording which was mostly a demo studio one of of the songs I recorded with Jeff was called “Bulky Knit Sweater”. A song for some reason which to this day sticks in my head. Some of the lyrics went like this: You look better in a bulky knit sweater then any other girl I know…..etc. I have no idea why this song was never recorded by a major recording act, I say this because I has all the elements of a hit song…..even if it is 100 years old. Artie, get this song recorded it is your job. Best Barry Oslander

  4. Todd Everett Says:

    The version of “Walking in the Sun” I heard first — and to this day revere — was by Percy Sledge on his (I think) Capricorn album.

    Jeff cut it with the Persuasions (and a backing band!) for A&M at about the same time.

  5. Laura Says:

    I don’t think I’ve heard “Walkin’ In The Sun” by The Persuasions (although I might have; I’m not sure), but I’ve got the Percy Sledge version and it’s terrific.

    Laura

  6. Artie Wayne Says:

    HI
    Great article on a great musical legend!

    Joe Somsky
    Ellie Greenwich fan club

  7. Trade Martin Says:

    Artie,
    It’s very enjoyable reading your work and I was especially happy to catch this fine story….!!!

    Jeff was always a first class, talented guy & I really loved working with him and Ellie. Besides being nice people, they really had their studio act together, always knowing how to create a warm feeling with the musicians, which achieved a strong happy groove in the rhythm section. They sure did have a magical pulse on writing & producing hits for the record industry in the 60’s. I played electric and acoustic guitar on lots of their demo and master sessions, but the two chart records that I recall were the Dixie Cups, “Chapel Of Love”, (Brooks Arthur; Mirasound) and Neil Diamond’s, “Cherry Cherry”, (Phil Ramone; A&R 48th St.).

    Keep up your top notch writing, (lyrics & articles) and I hope to speak to you soon…..!!!

    Warmest regards, Trade.


  8. Hello Mr. Wayne,

    From my conversations with Jeff Barry, I know that “Walkin’ In The Sun” and “I Honestly Love You” are his favorites of all the songs he wrote. Without a doubt, he’s grateful to you for helping them become hits. There’ve been a bucketload of cover versions on both tunes. “I Honestly Love You” has been a hit several times for Olivia Newton-John, and also once for The Staple Singers. Deneice Williams sings a very nice version of it on the soundtrack of CHAPEL OF LOVE, a filmed tribute to Jeff.

    The most lucrative recording of “Walkin’ In The Sun” was undoubtedly the Rufus disc, but the highest-charting version was a 1990 country version by Glen Campbell. The tune has been waxed by Gene Pitney and The Walker Brothers as well as by Jeff himself. Did you know it’s been the title track of an album at least four times? You’ll find it gracing LPs by Glen Campbell, Gene Pitney and Barb Jungr (thanks to Laura for this info) as well as the UNRELEASED 1973 solo album by Mr. B himself. Artists just keep discovering this tune!

  9. Jerry Lawson Says:

    I’m Jerry Lawson, former lead singer, arranger & producer of The Persuasions (40 years & 23 albums)

    Jeff Barry was great to work with even though he put a band behind us & our fans were totally devastated. We were just meant to stay a cappella. In fact I left The Persuasions 4 years ago & have a new a cappella group & a new Cd released 6/07 – turned out to be the masterpiece of my career. 20 tracks, an hour of brilliant harmony & a 20 page booklet. Don’t have distribution yet but the album has already been purchased & played around the world just through word of mouth. If anyone reading htis can help me spread the word & promote & preserve The Art of A cappella with an interview, review, article we sure would be grateful. Meantime we performed with Rod Stewart on the Katrina benefit.. – & you can see that performance & hear the new Cd at http://www.jerrylawson.biz – I wish Jeff Barry would hear it!

    Thanks to anyone out there reading this.

    In Harmony,
    Jerry
    mail@jerrylawson.biz

  10. sABLE Says:

    i ACTUALLY HANG OUT WITH JEFF BARRY. i HAVE AN AWESOME FAN CLUB. tO TELL U THE TRUTH. iM RELATED TO HIM

  11. Joel Diamond Says:

    Jeff has always been my hero and role model…he deserves every ounce of recognition…
    Joel Diamond


  12. Nice blog…Thank you very much.

  13. Karina Says:

    Hello there !
    I would like to know who sings about this “bulky knit sweater”. A local (G)Oldies radio-station here in Belgium often plays this song and ever so often they fail to reveal the name of the performer.
    Please leave a reply on my website http://karinaclaes.wordpress.com.
    Thnx !

  14. Wedigo Watson Says:

    Artie, what a nice tribute you’ve written about this very talented songwriter, whose music is such a large part of my musical landscape. I also have to confess that I had not heard “Walkin’ In The Sun”….You Tube to the rescue!! Just listened to it; Chaka Khan is fantastic on this.


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