On Broadway (song)

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"On Broadway"
Drifters On Broadway.jpg
Single by The Drifters
from the album Under the Boardwalk
B-side "Let the Music Play"
Released 1963
Format 7"
Genre Soul
Length 3:05
Label Atlantic
Songwriter(s) Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
The Drifters singles chronology
"Up on the Roof"
(1962)
"On Broadway"
(1963)
"Rat Race"
(1963)
"On Broadway"
Single by George Benson
from the album Weekend in L.A.
Released 1978 (1978)
Genre Smooth jazz
Label Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Tommy LiPuma
George Benson singles chronology
"The Greatest Love of All"
(1977)
"On Broadway"
(1978)
"Lady Blue"
(1978)

"On Broadway" is a song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in collaboration with the team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Composition

Weil and Mann were based at Aldon Music, located at 1650 Broadway, New York City, and the song as written by Mann/Weil was originally recorded by the Cookies (although the Crystals' version beat them to release) and featured an upbeat lyric in which the protagonist is still on her way to Broadway and sings "I got to get there soon, or I'll just die". The song was played as a shuffle.

When Leiber/Stoller let it be known that the Drifters had booked studio time for the following day and were a song short, Mann/Weil forwarded "On Broadway". Leiber and Stoller liked the song but felt that it was not quite right and the four held an overnight brainstorming session which culminated in the better-known version of the song, now with a rock oriented groove and with a more bluesy feel which matched the new lyric in which the singer was now actually on Broadway and having a hard time.

The Drifters version

A young Phil Spector played the distinctive lead guitar solo on The Drifters' recording.[1] The personnel for the Drifters recording were Joe Newman, Ernie Royal – trumpets; Billy Butler, Bill Suyker, Everette Barksdale – guitars; Russ Savakus – bass; Gary Chester – drums; and Phil Kraus, Nick Rodriguez, Martin Grupp – percussion. The instrumental arrangement was written by noted arranger Garry Sherman.

The recording by the Drifters was a hit, reaching No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.

The Drifters' version of the song was featured in a 1971 television public service announcement for Radio Free Europe (RFE). The Hungarian expatriate announcer is shown entering the RFE studio announcing "On Broadvay", after which young Hungarians are shown listening to the "In sound from Outside".[2]

George Benson version

George Benson's version of "On Broadway", from his 1978 album Weekend in L.A., hit No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the soul chart.[3] Benson's version also has had substantial adult contemporary and smooth jazz radio airplay ever since. It won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance.

Benson's performance of the song was used in the 1979 film All That Jazz in a sequence that featured dancers on stage auditioning for a musical similar to Chicago. Benson also performed "On Broadway" with Clifford and the Rhythm Rats for the 1994 Muppets album Kermit Unpigged.

Other cover versions

The song has also been recorded by many other artists, including the Coasters, the Dave Clark Five, Bobby Darin, Percy Faith, Tom Jones, Eric Carmen, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra[citation needed] and Nancy Sinatra.

In film and television

In theatre

  • The song was included in the musical revue Smokey Joe's Cafe (1995).
  • It is featured in the Carole King musical Beautiful (2013), because Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann are characters in the show.

References to the song

References

  1. ^ Mick Brown. Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, p. 96
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_vwAYIi8wg
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 53.
  4. ^ Disco-Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes, A Piece of the Rock Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  5. ^ "Kramer: The Brill Building > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved July 17, 2015.

External links

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