Brief Encounters With Jimmy Webb!
April 9, 2007
Growing up in the turbulent 60’s in the Shadow of the Cold War, wasn’t easy! Growing up in New York of the 60’s, with all the drugs and violence, had an even harder edge. I was tired of writing formula pop songs about made-up experiences in a location that no longer held any fascination for me. My recording career had fizzled out and my marriage was winding down. Although my partner, Kelli Ross and I were running the publishing companies of Quincy Jones, Leslie Gore, Bobby Scott, Janis Ian, Joey Levine and Artie Resnick, my own creativity was suffering from a lack of positive stimulation.
I knew the next musical trend would be coming from the west coast, when I first heard, “Cherish” by the Association” and “California Dreaming”, by the Mamas and Papas…but when I heard “Macarthur Park” by Richard Harris I knew it had arrived!
Before I go on with my story, I’d like you listen to hear the song that kicked me into high gear. It’s Richard Harris singing his classic record, which Jimmy Webb, wrote and produced…”Macarthur Park”. This video is distracting, so personally I prefer to listen to the music and let my imagination create my own pictures. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0D-boeOCG0
Although “Macarthur Park” was seven minutes long, twice the length of any song on the radio at the time, it quickly became number one! The poetry of the lyric and beautiful, psychedelic labyrinth of music gave a shot in the arm to Pop music in general, and to me particular. I took my first trip to Hollywood in the summer of 1968 to get a better understanding of the new emerging music scene …and to get a quickie Mexican divorce.
Jackie DeShannon, took me on a tour of Hollywood and introduced me to the wonders of Malibu Beach. I hung out at the Troubadour and the Whiskey with Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys and Terry Kirkman of the Association. I went to parties up at Mike Love’s, down at Richard Baskin’s and over at Football Hall Of Famer, Jim Brown’s house. I reunited with my long time songwriting partner, Ben Raleigh ( “Love Is A Hurting Thing”, “Tell Laura I Love Her”) who had recently relocated to California. I also hooked up with my friend Bob Stone, who was once signed to me, as he celebrated his number one record with Cher, “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves ” I also started writing with Gary Zekely and Mitch Bottler ( “Wait A Million Years”, “Sooner Or Later”), found time to go to a Phil Spector recording session…as well as fall in-and-out of love a couple of times!
It was quite an eventful two weeks, but I still hadn’t met Jimmy Webb, whose music brought me out here in the first place. As my plane took off for New York, “Up, Up and Away” kept running through my mind…I was disappointed, but I knew I’d be coming back.
Jimmy’s songs like, “Didn’t We?”,”The Worst That Can Happen”, “Wichita Lineman”, and “Galveston”, continued to inspire me as I spent my last dreary year in New York. It was two years after moving to the West Coast, however, before I finally met my inspiration!
I was working as General Professional Manager for Warner Brothers Music, when CEO, Ed Silvers, informed me that we now represented Jimmy Webb. I can’t tell you how excited I was to go out to his house in Encino with Warner Brothers Records President, Mo Ostin to hear the final mixes of his latest WB album, and finally meet my hero!
As we waited for Jimmy in his game room, I saw a Las Vegas slot machine in the corner. I put a quarter in and hit the jackpot. Mo smiled…as I hit the jackpot again…again and again! Mo, started glaring at me as I tried to push my winnings back into the machine. Now fully embarrassed, I started kicking hundreds of quarters underneath the living room rug, just as Jimmy walked in laughing…that’s when I realized I was the victim of a practical joke!
I knew I was gonna’ like working with this guy!
( To Be Continued )
Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne