Jeff Barry
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Disc&Dat Interview

"There was music, and music being bought before radio and television, so I assume it will survive the Internet as well - somehow."
-Jeff Barry
In July of 2005, Stephen Meyer interviewed Jeff Barry for his weekly newsletter, DISC & DAT.  The interview was conducted via email, and Jeff's responses to Stephen's questions are economically worded but informative, eloquent - and witty!

Q. 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?
Jeff:  Songwriting is first in my heart, but producing your own song is like directing your own screenplay.
Q. 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!"
Q. 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.
Q. 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.
Q. Do you have a favorite song that you've written?
Jeff: If I had to pick one ... it would be "I Honestly Love You."
Q. 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.
Q. 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 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."
Q. 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.
Q. 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.
Q. 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.
Q. What artists out there today do you listen to?
Jeff: Mainly country - still writing good songs!!!!
Q. Is there one award or recognition you've received that you cherish most?
Jeff: That would have to be the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the kind words I receive from fans all the time.
Q. 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.
Q. 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?

Copyright 2005, DISC & DAT, A New Media Newsletter, Published By Steve Meyer
This newsletter goes to over 400+ music and entertainment industry people in all types of capacities: label people, managers, artists, producers, songwriters, trade press people, TV people, radio people, etc.
Steve Meyer is a thirty-five+ year music industry veteran. He spent 24 years working in executive promotion capacities at both Capitol Records and at Universal Studios’ MCA Records. Recognized as one of the industry’s top professionals, Steve was a recipient of many awards during his industry tenure, including Billboard Magazine’s Award for Excellence in National Promotion, as well as Sr. VP/Promotion, and Record Executive Of The Year awards.

In 1990, Meyer left MCA to form his own consulting company, SMART MARKETING and since then has provided consulting services and marketing strategies to many in the entertainment, media, technology and broadcast industries, A respected authority on pop-culture and the entertainment industry, Steve has been interviewed by Martin A. Grove, now a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and a CNN Entertainment reporter, for three separate books on pop music: Beatle Madness, Paul McCartney - Beatle With Wings, and Teen Idols.

In 2003, Meyer launched a weekly industry e-mail newsletter, DISC & DAT that contains commentary, news, interviews, and more.

Please visit Laura's Oldies Sites for a list of other sites I run, including those for The Dixie Cups and Ron Dante of The Archies.

Note:  Jeff Barry: The Man and His Music is a fan site owned and maintained by Laura Pinto.  Laura is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to