On Broadway (song)
"On Broadway" Single by The Drifters B-side "Let the Music Play" Released 1963 Format 7" Genre Soul Length 3:05 Label Atlantic Writer(s) Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller The Drifters singles chronology "Up on the Roof"
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." Additionally the melody was in compound time and the backing riff modulated between the root and the 2nd minor.
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 in simple time and with a backing riff that modulated down to the flattened 7th, giving it a more bluesy feel which matched the new lyric in which the singer was now actually on Broadway and having a hard time. A young Phil Spector played the distinctive lead guitar solo on The Drifters' recording. the personnel for the Drifters recording is Joe Newman, Ernie Royal - trumpets; Billy Butler, Bill Suyker, Everette Barksdale - guitars; Russ Saunders - bass; Gary Chester - drums; Phil Kraus, Nick Rodriguez, Martin Grupp - percussion; Members of ? - violins; Members of ? - cellos. The instrumental arrangement was written by noted arranger Gary Sherman.
The song was a hit for The Drifters in 1963, reaching #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has been covered by many artists such as The Dave Clark Five, George Benson, The Chipettes, Eric Carmen, Bobby Darin, Percy Faith, Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis, James Taylor, Gary Numan, Tito Puente, Lou Rawls, Buddy Rich, Paul Rodgers with Jeff Beck, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Sly & the Family Stone, Livingston Taylor, Neil Young, and Widespread Panic. David Bowie quoted from the song in his 1973 track "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)". The song was covered jazz-style by Ray Brown, Jr. on the album Stand by Me. The lyrics of the song also make a brief appearance at the end of the song "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" by Genesis from their album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
George Benson's version of "On Broadway", from his 1978 album Weekend in L.A., was an even bigger hit than The Drifters' original, hitting #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and getting substantial adult contemporary and smooth jazz radio airplay ever since. It won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance. The song appeared in the films Big Business and American Beauty. George Benson's performance of the song was used during the opening credits of the 1979 film All That Jazz, which featured dancers on stage auditioning for a musical similar to Chicago. George Benson also performed "On Broadway" with Clifford and The Rhythm Rats for the 1994 Muppet album Kermit Unpigged.
Argentinian group "Serú Girán" referenced the song's melody — played by the fretless bass — in their track "Canción de Hollywood" (Hollywood song) from their 1979 album "La grasa de las capitales".
An instrumental version of the song was used in the film American Beauty during the Spartanettes dance scene.
The song was included in the musical revue "Smokey Joe's Cafe".
- ^ Mick Brown. Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, p.96
Discography Studio albums
The New Boss Guitar of George Benson · It's Uptown · The George Benson Cookbook · Giblet Gravy · Shape of Things to Come · Goodies · Tell It Like It Is · The Other Side of Abbey Road · Beyond the Blue Horizon · White Rabbit · Body Talk · Bad Benson · Good King Bad · Benson & Farrell · Breezin' · In Flight · Livin' Inside Your Love · Give Me the Night · In Your Eyes · Pacific Fire · I Got a Woman and Some Blues · 20/20 · While the City Sleeps... · Collaboration · Twice the Love · Tenderly · Big Boss Band · Love Remembers · That's Right · Standing Together · Absolute Benson · Irreplaceable · Givin' It Up · Songs and Stories · Guitar Man
In Concert-Carnegie Hall · Weekend in L.A. · Space · Round Midnight · Best of George Benson Live · Live From Montreux
Benson Burner · Blue Benson · Mr.Mellow George Benson Greatest Hits · The George Benson Collection · Exclusive Benson · Grand New World - Greatest Love Songs · Best of George Benson in the CTI/Kudu Years
Absolutely Live · Live at Montreux 1986 · The Art of Jazz Guitar
Michael Williams · Damion Charles · Ryan King · Carlton Powell
Clyde McPhatter · Gerhart Thrasher · Andrew Thrasher · Bill Pinkney · Willie Ferbee · Walter Adams · Ben E. King · Doc Green · Beary Hobbs · Rudy Lewis · Charlie Thomas · Tommy Evans · Eugene Pearson · Johnny Terry · Johnny Moore · Bobby Hendricks · Rudy Ivan · Jimmy Lewis · Ray Lewis · Louis Price · Maurice Cannon
AlbumsSave the Last Dance for Me · Our Biggest Hits · I'll Take You Where The Music's Playing · Biggest Hits · Saturday Night At The Club · Star Collection · Save the Last Dance for Me · Love Games · The Drifters - 24 Original Hits · Every Nite's A Saturday Night · The Magic Moment · Greatest Hits Live · Live at Harvard University · The Best Of Ben E. King & The Drifters Compilation
albumsThe Drifters' Golden Hits · There Goes My First Love · The Drifters' In South Africa - 20 All-time Hits · Superalbum · The Drifters · Greatest Hits · Up On The Roof, On Broadway & Under The Boardwalk · I'll Take You Where The Music's Playing · Forever Gold · The Definitive Drifters · On Broadway · Best Of The Drifters · Under the Boardwalk · Greatest Hits · 20 Greatest Hits · Their Greatest Recordings, The Early Years
Book:The Drifters · Category:The Drifters
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