Monday, 7 July 2014

Vale Gerry Goffin

Lyricist Gerry Goffin, one half of the Brill Building songwriting team Goffin-King, has died aged 75.

Gerry was part of a songwriting duo with his then-wife Carole King. They were instrumental in supplying songs to Phil Spector's production stable, among other artists.

The line-up of hits they had included "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "Up On The Roof" (The Drfiters), "Take Good Care Of My Baby" (Bobby Vee/Smokie), "The Loco-motion" (Little Eva), "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" (The Shirelles), "Natural Woman" (Aretha Franklin), "How Can I Meet Her?" (The Everly Brothers), "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (The Monkees), "Smackwater Jack" (Carole King), "Wasn't Born To Follow" (The Byrds) and heaps more.

Gerry also collaborated with other composers to write songs like "I've Got To Use My Imagination" (Gladys Knight & The Pips), "Saving All My Love For You" (Whitney Houston), "Do You Know Where You're Going To?" (Diana Ross) among others.

It's rare that we celebrate the works of songwriters. Gerry and Carole operated in the music industry when it was de rigeur to outsource songs. Record labels and production houses would manage artists and select the songs that would work best for them.

The Beatles changed everything by keeping most of the songwriting in house. Indeed, Lennon and McCartney were often quoted in the early days that they wanted to be the Goffin-King of England. But with that, they changed the industry. The push was for artists to write their own material and not to enlist outside help. This had the effect of reducing demand for their services. In any event, the Goffin-King partnership was done and dusted by 1967 and the pair divorced.

The songs that Gerry contributed to are timeless. Some of his lyrics were so risque for the era. I wonder how many people actually understood the controversial nature of the lyric of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" Even now that song's meaning is as poignant and as applicable as ever, over 50 years later. There are plenty of other examples, but the fact still stands that Gerry's lyrics spoke to the true heart of every teenager - not just those who were teens in the early 1960s, but ever teenager ever since. It takes a real talent to create songs that can still reach people over half a century later.

Vale Mr Goffin. You will be missed.

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