Your musical resume is deep as both a songwriter and a producer. Do you enjoy one role over the other, or do you like them
both the same?
is first in my heart, but producing your own song is like directing your own screenplay.
How did you become a songwriter? Was it what you always wanted to do?
Jeff: I've always
done it - since seven years old ... then one day someone said "Hey, kid!"
Did you write lyrics as well as music?
Jeff: Mainly lyrics
- I guess I'm basically a story teller. Lyrics, melody, chords - in that order.
Can you tell us how the creative songwriting process worked when you and (ex-wife) Ellie Greenwich collaborated with Phil
Spector? What was it like working with Spector in those glory days?
Jeff: One of them, usually
Phil, would be at the piano, and I would be banging on a desk or a file cabinet. It was all pretty effortless, and fun, looking
back at it now.
Do you have a favorite song that you've written?
Jeff: If I had to pick
one ... it would be "I Honestly Love You."
Do you remember any specific things that happened in the studio back then that you considered truly innovative? Certainly
Spector was an innovator.
Jeff: I suppose I've
had my moments, but it's not for me to say.
It seems that great songs stand the test of time. Many of your songs are still on the radio and are favorites of millions
of people, both young and old...it must be truly rewarding to see your songs embraced by new audiences year after year.
Jeff: It truly is. Of
course, the "old" you refer to were once the original "young."
As you know the record industry has changed dramatically in the past decade and it seems there's been a shift away from most
labels committing to artist development. It also means that there's no real catalog being built now for the future when labels
don't build rosters with great singer/songwriters. How do you see the role of songwriters like yourself in today's music industry
environment and in the future?
Jeff: Impossible for
me to predict, but if the world doesn't have enough songs by now, it never will.
While the major labels waste precious time and resources suing several hundred people every month who download music illegally
on P2P sites, Apple's leader Steve Jobs has revolutionized the industry by starting the iTunes online music store (which is
close to selling a half billion legal songs online) and developing the iPod. How do you view the Internet and the digital
future of the business from a songwriter/producer perspective?
Jeff: There was music,
and music being bought before radio and television, so I assume it will survive the Internet as well - somehow.
When I interviewed Al Kooper last year I asked him if he thought there was any downside for artists today with all the technology
in place and being developed and he answered, "Yeah, the technology allows one person to make a whole record single-handedly.
There are high-rated engineers today who have never miked a viola or a French horn. Solo acts who have never recorded with
a roomful of real musicians. That's a big mofo downside in my humble opinion ... it's also a possible destruction of camaraderie
and interaction and sometimes that's an integral part of making great music." Would you agree?
Jeff: I agree, in that
much is created live that cannot be created electronically.
What artists out there today do you listen to?
Jeff: Mainly country
- still writing good songs!!!!
Is there one award or recognition you've received that you cherish most?
What are you doing these days to keep busy?
Jeff: I have a musical
comedy opening in October [Knight Life, which premiered in Vero Beach, Florida in November 2005] - a TV series in development at Spelling TV. I am writing
Ruthless People - The Musical, a screenplay close to being made.
Any final thoughts?
Jeff: In every civilization
ever found, a smile, frown, grimace, etc. means exactly the same as it does in all the other civilizations, and there is no
civilization without some form of music - interesting, huh?