Please Release Me!
Most songwriters, if they’ve been around long enough, have “the one that got away” stories. These are worse than the “they put my song on hold but…” stories. These are the ones where you end the call from your publisher and start shopping. At least in your mind. Your song was on hold, actually got cut, made the final running order. And that's where the old phrase “it ain't final ‘til it’s vinyl” came from.
Before I get to mine, I have to give you the worst one I’ve heard over the years. A writer here in Nashville wrote a song that got to a major artist of the day. The artist loved it. Cut it, talked about it as a sure first single and even the eventual title song. The writer was beyond excited, told everyone they knew, and God only knows what else they did. Release day comes, the writer runs to Tower Records (hey, it’s an old story!) picks up the album, flips it over, reads through the list of songs and--their song isn’t there.
Read it again because the mind can play tricks. Still, nowhere to be seen. Until the writer flips the album back over to the cover. There it is. It is the title of the album, but not actually on the album. Enough to make any writer cry 96 tears.
Spice Up My Life
I started thinking about these songs this morning when I noticed a CNN headline about four brand-new 'leaked' Spice Girl songs. The more I Googled, the bigger it got. The story was everywhere and the four songs where featured in most of the articles. Two were co-writes of mine from time I spent in England writing with four of the Girls and Eliot Kennedy; “A Day in Your Life” and “Pain Proof” . Like opening a time vault. Brought back some great memories of that trip, including hanging with David Beckham in the studio kitchen most mornings. It was easy to see why they got so huge by being around them for the first few hours. A real force of nature. What a buzz! But in the end, neither song made it.
Another one was a song called “Dare You To Love Me”, written with my great friend Brenda Russell and Eric Mercury, and recorded by Chaka Khan. It was cut, a probable first single, and the title of the album. I’m counting my money! Then Chaka has a fight with the label...and leaves. The record goes unreleased. She’s talking about re-cutting it this year and you can find both the song and album cover online.
I also have a unique history of this phenomenon with Wynonna Judd, who’s cut at least 3 of my songs over the years. For her album“Revelations” she held a song called “Can’t Stop My Heart”. Seemed perfect for her coming off a huge debut album. Everybody loved it, high-fives all around! I bought a new Toyota 4-wheel. At the 11th hour...no cut. This one has a happy ending because totally unbeknownst to me, she had cut a another song of mine called “My Angel Is Here”. It made it, and my heart started again!
Wy cut a few more, including one of my favorites, “I Am Strong”. I thought this was the perfect fit, and so did everyone else. It made the final cut, went to mastering and...a decision was made to leave it off. The rumor was that her husband at the time thought it made him appear weak. She later dumped the husband, but I wish she’d done that a bit earlier.
I could go on: Ronan Keating, Peter Cox (one of my favorite singers), Glenn Tilbrook, Bonnie Raitt, Luther Vandross, Faith Hill; songs for Disney movies, new artists, old artists, and even one who passed away before recording the vocal to my song. Roy Orbsion. That one hurt on every level. Don’t feel bad for me, though. Lots did get cut and actually make the record. But the ones that got away have a special place for all of us who do this long enough: in a folder somewhere in our iTunes library.
We keep hoping the vaults will open and out they’ll come--like today. Spiced up my life for a bit!
Feb 17, 2015
Image: Wikimedia Commons
About Mark Cawley
Mark Cawley's songs have appeared on more than 15 million records. Over a career based in LA, London, and Nashville his songs have been recorded by an incredibly diverse range of artists. From Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Wynonna, Diana Ross and Chaka Kahn to The Spice Girls, Tom Scott, Kathy Mattea, Paul Carrack, Will Downing and Pop Idol winners in the UK. He has had #1 records in the UK and throughout Europe as well as cuts in Country, Jazz & R & B. His groundbreaking website Song Journey created with Hall of Fame writer Kye Fleming was the first to mentor writers from around the world one-on-one online. He is currently writing and publishing as well as helping writers and artists worldwide with a one-on-one co-active coaching service, iDoCoach. In addition he is a judge for this years UK Songwriting Contest, a contributing writer to the US Songwriting Competition , a popular songwriting blogger and from time to time, conducts his own workshops.