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Eric Carmen

Hindsight, Band Names, Labels, Success, Failure, Democracy and Entitlement

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Eric:

As someone who played in rock bands for around 13 years (but never achieving any amount of fame), I am really enjoying your posts on these subjects and can relate to the personality issues and internal politics that goes with being in a band.

About songwriting "credit": one of the guys brought in this song he wrote over the weekend which was actually quite good. We took turns introducing songs at gigs, and when I introduced that song I announced the name of the member who wrote it. Later, one of the other guys bounced me about it, saying we all wrote our parts and that I should have said that the band wrote the song. I countered that if the first guy hadn't come in with the melody, words, and chord changes, there wouldn't have been a song in the first place and that we just arranged our parts. That seemed to satisfy him, and when it was his turn to announce at the following gig he gave credit to the first guy for writing the song - and that the rest of us arranged our parts. ;)

The last band I was in, we had this "guitar hero" sort of guy who would ride me about coming up with patches on my synths that sounded just like the song we were covering, yet he himself never once changed the sound of his guitar all night. Go figure...

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Everyone is not a songwriter. There, I said it. Sometimes, a guy comes along who writes one good song in his lifetime. And sometimes, a guy comes along who writes lots of great songs. 

When you play in a band, your job is to do the best job you can, on whatever instrument you play, to contribute to the success of the song. If you came up with a good bass part, that doesn't make you a "co-writer", not even if the bass part becomes the intro. Is there a more memorable guitar riff than Duane Allman's intro on Layla? Or one more instantly identifiable? Probably not, but that STILL doesn't give Duane a writer credit, anymore than Steve Lukather, or Davey Johnstone, or any of the other great session guitarists I've worked with over the years would get a writer credit for doing exactly what I hired them to do. The difference with session guys is they have NO SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT. I hired them because I thought they were great, and because I thought they were the right guitarist for a particular song, they came in, did their job, and charged me "double-scale." That's what "pros" do. They give you their best, and you pay them, and you have fun, and hopefully something good comes out of it.

I just thought of THE PERFECT EXAMPLE to demonstrate my point. It's amazing I"ve never thought of this before!

When I signed with Geffen Records, in the mid-eighties, the "A & R" guy who signed me was a lovely, if eccentric, guy named John Kalodner. John LOVED "Go All The Way", and begged me to write him another "Go All The Way." When I attempted to explain to him that I wrote "GATW" when I was 21, and I was ( at that time ) 35, and that it would be uncomfortable, and perhaps even "unseemly" to write a song projecting that theme at my age, he shrugged it off. He wanted his new "GATW." So, by the time I gave in, and began writing "You Took Me All The Way" ( gag, wretch! ) I was doing it just for John, and against all of my natural instincts which told me this was going to be an imminent disaster. Long story short. Eventually I came up with a song John loved.

Fast forward to the studio. 

I'm not absolutely sure, but I seem to remember the "hot" guitarist in L.A. back then was a new kid named Dan Huff ( now a superstar producer in Nashville ). Danny came in and I showed him the chords to the intro ( which were a bastardization of my own song ) and he played them beautifully. Great big power chords, just like the intro of "Go All The Way."

They were, however, "different" chords, not exactly the same as "GATW", just similar in approach. I explained to Danny just what I was looking for, exactly the same way I explained to Wally what I was looking for. Different chords, different song.

Would it ever have occurred to Danny Huff to bitch and moan about "writing the intro, and not getting a credit"? Of course not. He was a "hired gun" who came in and did exactly what I hired him to do: Play the hell out of that intro. That's NOT WRITING!!!

He played the chords I wrote, in the rhythm I explained to him, and he did a great job. End of story. He didn't write one word of the lyric, or one note of the melody, or one chord of the song. Period. He was part of the "arrangement." 

When you play in a band, that's your job! If you're the lead guitarist, it's to come up with terrific lead guitar parts. In the case of "GATW", Wally didn't have to come up with the chords, or the rhythm in which to play them, he just helped me determine the "voicing." Where, on the neck of his guitar, the part would sound best. He tried three places. I picked the one I liked. And that was that.

Wally didn't do anything different from what Danny Huff did. The DIFFERENCE was that Wally was "in the band", and Danny was a hired session musician, but they performed exactly the same function.

It's that sense of "entitlement," combined with not getting enough of the spotlight, that ruins bands. It certainly ruined Raspberries.

Paul McCartney wrote ( and played ) the intro of "Ticket To Ride." If George had come up with it, would that have made him a "co-writer"? Great as that intro is, the answer is no.

I close my case.

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Eric,

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain about the intro to GATW, so even someone like me could understand.  (Glad I have my DSL back at home tonight.)

Such a pleasure to read your insights and responses.  Now I'm jonesing for the new cd and the remastered GATW.  It will be epic!!  ;)

xo

M.E.

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Kirk   

Eric, we are polarized on "She Took Me All The Way"...I thank John Kalodner for coaxing 'son of GATW' out of you!  Every time you put out a new album, I hoped that you would borrow a little of the magic from GATW.

When the Geffen album came out, my heart skipped a little when I saw the song entitled "She Took Me All The Way".  Could it be?  Please, oh please, maybe just a whiff of the intro, a sniff of the chorus, a vaguely familiar middle eight- my pulse beat a little faster as I set the needle into that groove.

From the first note, I was rejoicing!  By the end of the song, I was in heaven!!  Thank you, Eric!  Thank you, John Kalodner!!

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That song was sheer torture to write., but I listened to it a few nights ago, and thought " Hey, That wasn't too bad...considering the circumstances! Pretty good "middle eight" as always, made it palatable .

Not my crowning achievement as a songwriter, but not bad, considering what it was.                                                                

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On 3/14/2014 at 11:06 PM, Eric Carmen said:

Paul McCartney wrote ( and played ) the intro of "Ticket To Ride." If George had come up with it, would that have made him a "co-writer"? Great as that intro is, the answer is no.

"George Harrison and I were once in a car and the Beatles song "You Can't Do That" came on, with that great riff in the beginning on the 12-string. He goes, "I came up with that." And I said, "Really? How?" He said, "I was just standing there and thought, 'I've got to do something!' " That pretty much sums him up. He just had a way of getting right to the business, of finding the right thing to play. That was part of that Beatles magic — “they all seemed to find the right thing to play."

—Tom Petty, Rolling Stone

Bernie

PS: "You Can't Do That" (Lennon—McCartney)

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I suppose part of what made the Beatles great was their mix brought out the very best in everyone creatively.  Together they made lasting musical magic.

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James   

Just call me tangent man, but the real deal was "Inside Story".  A rocking melodic GREAT song that is so underrated, and for  for some reason doesn´t seem to get talked about even here.

"I heard my friends, talkin ABOUT your reputation....

......rockin, yeah.

 

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You Took Me All The Way has always been my fave track from the Geffen album. Very underrated in my opinion. A bit like All Through The Night which Eric has also expressed reservations over once or twice. ATTN should have been a big hit single.

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ATTN is controversial for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is women don't like it. 

As I said before in Michael Little's best post, I'll think of the song as a cautionary tale, but of course it expresses so much more. 

GATW is in a class by itself, but Eric gave the guy what he wanted in YTMATW which is remarkable.

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KkH   
On 3/15/2014 at 11:17 AM, Cayennegirl said:

ATTN is controversial for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is women don't like it. 

And there is a reason women don't like it.

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ATTN is a stonkin' rockin' number. Mike's enormous drumming, Scott's melodic bass playing, almost like a second lead guitar at times, Wally' s stand out solo, Eric's peerless vocal and those horns stabs in just the right places. It's one of those tracks where the groove is so strong that it almost doesn't matter what the lyrics are. It's the overall sound that matters. I remember John Lennon saying once that this was what mattered to him most, the overall sound of a record. I think he was talking about "I Hear You Knokin'" by Dave Edmonds at the time and referring to it as the kind of sound that rang his bell so to speak. That's what ATTN does for me. Oh, and my wife loves the song too, it's her favourite Raspberries song! And as for the lyrics, Well ok, but I am sure we have had far more risqué stuff over the last 40 years that we can't now appreciate ATTN for the great rock song that it is.

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Catnip   

I don't see why women should have a problem with ATTN. I remember watching a television program and rock stars were talking about how they treated women. I don't really blame them if the women let it happen. You can't be treated like a tramp if you don't act like one. I mean really, would you rather meet a guy and he says...listen, I will sleep with you because you are here and then you will never hear from me again or is it better if he tells you everything you want to hear and then you never hear from again? Call me weird, but I would prefer the reality of the situation. Knowing he isn't interested up front is better than feeling used and that goes for any guy/girl situation not just rock stars.

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James   

I love the music to ATTN, but the lyrics celebrate (from this man's point of view) stuff that is well below an optimal mindset toward a woman. 
That is the problem most have with the lyrics, regardless of whether the lyrics are honest or not. I can listen to the song and get into it, but the lyrics for sure dilute the listening experience.

Eric explained how the song was written (lyrics by Mike) a while back.

P.S.  The music to "All Thru The Night" is really great and also underrated, even among Eric Carmen fans.  I'll go so far as to say the music is so great that for 85% of the bands out there (or more) the song would be the best of their catalog.

James

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I don't like ATTN for personal reasons, it reminds of some not so great times. I dated a guitar player all through high school, married him, had kids with him and the entire time there was always some little whore (tramp is too nice a word) all over him because he was with the band. If I had not known where his true feelings and interest were I probably would have killed someone.

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During the Reunion Tour, someone brought up the idea of doing ATTN. I nixed it, for the same reason that Rod Stewart may be a bit reluctant to do "Hot Legs" or "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy."

What might have been acceptable if you were in your 20's could REALLY BACKFIRE when you're in your 60's. Ugh.

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Catnip   

Adelia, I get your point. You are right, tramp is too nice of a word. Women do a far greater disservice to other women than men do. If women can't respect another woman then why should men respect any of us? If those "tramps" knew that he was in a relationship and still threw themselves at him then they were not very nice people. I'm sorry that you went through that. =(  

Eric, you are right. Some things are better left in our past/youth.  =) 

On a different note, lots of songs can come off making a woman sounding bad, but unless that shoe fits, I see it as just a song.

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I think ATTN is a rockin' song too.  Like I said before I think the lyrics are a cautionary tale. 

But not everyone who hears the song feels the same way, it is what it is as they say.  I know Eric understands...

As for the boys in the bands, one of the reasons they do it is for the girls!! 

(Singing "Do You Think I'm Sexy" in your 60s, 70s and 80s could still be cute.)

But Adelia, if you were married with children in particular, that must be a difficult place to be, with a bunch of little girls running after your husband.  Not cool!  BTW, my husband is very attractive and I see women looking at him and trying to talk to him all the time and he isn't in a band! 

(I wonder if anybody ever actually said some of those words in ATTN and took that chance up front to find if the woman would still sleep with them?)

M.E.

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James   

We tend to worship music on this site.  We talk about how great certain songs are, the melody, how the lyrics move us, how the song puts us on a higher plane etc.  It's even been said here that for some, music would be their religion if they had to pick a religion...because music lifts the spirit, moves the soul and brings people together.

So we can't say these things, and then turn around and say "it's just a song". 

Eric Carmen fans are  more mature than most, more sensitive than most, care about getting the most out of life than most.  Most here, at some point in life,  reached a certain maturity level, whether it was at 18, 28 or 38.  At that maturity level many make decisions to make every minute count, to not waste brain power on less than optimal stuff, less than optimal art, etc.  They understand that everything that we put through our brain counts...everything we put thru our brain affects who we are.

So for this reason a lot of fans struggle with ATTN,  I think, maybe.....

...oh, what the heck do I know????????

:)

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marvin   

I don't like the lyrics of "ATtN" either, but love the tune and arrangement. In any case, Raspberries catalogue is filled with songs that could be considered risque.
 

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Catnip   

I agree that people appreciate music here, but I think that people are taking it way too personally. Eric didn't write it and they were young.  Some music has a more mature subject and some is just fun or is great for dancing. I could nitpick a hundred songs and say they are degrading to women. Go listen to Scandalous by Cobra Starship. Not all music is sunshine and roses but that doesn't make it bad or immature. 

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Catnip   

BTW no song Eric has written is "just a song". I am just saying no need for panties to be knottin' over a song from the 1970's  :)

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Anyone who knows me at all knows I don't have a problem with risque!  GATW for instance is a fav song of mine for many, many reasons, and it always will be. ;)

My panties will knot over that song from the 70s for all the right reasons!

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