Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


MANN, Barry, and Cynthia Weill

The longest surviving (creatively thriving) songwriting team to graduate from the Brill Building, later publishing their own work as Dyad Music. Mann (b 9 Feb. '39, Brooklyn) and Weil (b '42, Manhattan) have written in every style of pop individually, with each other and in pairs with others; over 150 million copies of their recorded songs have been sold. Mann began composing at twelve as a hobby, dropped out of Pratt Institute after a year of studying architecture, began writing and recording songs and playing piano on demos. His first hit was 'She Say (Oom Dooby Doom)' '59 by the Diamonds (top 20 '59); he signed to Aldon Music a year later and co-wrote hits for Steve Lawrence ('Footsteps'), Bobby Rydell ('I'll Never Dance Again'), the Lettermen ('Come Back Silly Girl'), the Paris Sisters ('I Love How You Love Me'), Teddy Randazzo ('Way Of A Clown') (Randazzo b Alessandro Carmelo Randazzo in Brooklyn; d 21 Nov. 2003 aged 68.) The B side of Randazzo's record was co-written by lyricist Weil; trained as an actress and dancer, she began writing for Frank Loesser, switched to Aldon; they married '61.

Under contract they wrote for timely teen idols such as Paul Peterson, Shelley Fabres and Dickey Lee, as well as for Don Kirshner's personal friend Eydie Gormé ('Blame It On The Bossa Nova', 'I Want You To Be My Baby'). Mann and Hank Hunter wrote 'Footsteps' for Steve Lawrence. They hit their stride in the '60s with street-wise 'urban protest' songs, writing with deep sympathy about young people's struggle in the harsh city, finding salvation in love: classics included 'He's Sure The Boy I Love' and 'Uptown' by the Crystals; 'On Broadway' by the Drifters and its 'answer' song 'Magic Town' by the Vogues; 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place' by the Animals; 'Kicks' by Paul Revere and the Raiders and 'Looking Through The Eyes Of Love' by Gene Pitney. There were disappointments along the way; Mann intended 'Only In America' for the Drifters: 'Only in America, land of opportunity, do they save the seat in the back of the bus just for me'; Jerry Wexler made him rewrite it to the effect that only in America can anyone become president. The Drifters recorded it but R&B disc jockeys wouldn't play it; it was a hit by Jay and the Americans.

They grew with their audience, leaving new young groups to write their own anthems; later efforts were 'I'm Gonna Be Strong' (Pitney), 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling' and 'Soul And Inspiration' (the Righteous Bros), 'I Just Can't Help Believin'' (B. J. Thomas), 'Here You Come Again' (Dolly Parton), 'Just Once' (Quincy Jones with James Ingram, discovered by Mann/Weil). Mann's efforts without Weil included 'Sometimes When We Touch' (co-written, recorded by Dan Hill) and 'How Much Love' (likewise with Leo Sayer); film work included co-writing the score for I Never Sang For My Father '69. Weil co-wrote 'He's So Shy' with Tom Snow for the Pointer Sisters, worked with Lionel Richie on his 'Running With The Night'. They also worked with Snow, Ingrams and others for a lengthy list of '80s AOR album tracks. Mann teamed with producer Steve Tyrell to provide music for film and TV, including Bonnie Raitt's 'Stand Up To The Night' for film Extremities.

Their unfulfilled ambition was to write a Broadway show; the big disappointment was Mann's failure as a recording artist: he began '59 with 'Dix-A-Billy' under the pseudonym Buddy Brooks, but peaked '61 with classic novelty 'Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp Bomp Bomp)' (no. 7 USA), co-written with a reluctant Gerry Goffin. Teen-fodder followed ('Teenage Has-Been', 'Johnny Surfboard', 'Talk To Me Baby', etc) progressing to amusing parody 'The Young Electric Psychedelic Hippie Flippy Folk And Funky Philosophic Turned-on Groovy 12-string Band' '68. He turned album artist with Lay It All Out '71 on New Design/CBS, Survivor '75 on RCA, Barry Mann '80 on Casablanca; all critically well received but providing hits for everyone except Mann.