…I run for the bus, dear…

“Every day we squeezed into our respective cubby holes with just enough room for a piano, a bench, and maybe a chair for the lyricist if you were lucky. You’d sit there and write and you could hear someone in the next cubbyhole composing a song exactly like yours. The pressure in the Brill Building was really terrific…”  Carole King

Designed by Victor Bark Jr. and built in 1931, The eleven story Brill Building is located at Broadway and 49th, just north of Manhattan’s Times Square. Its name comes from the Brill Brothers, who operated a street level haberdashery there and eventually bought the building.  Due to its prime location the music publishers and songwriters responsible for an increasing number of Hit Parade songs, for the likes of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and the Dorsey Brothers, began to inhabit many of its offices.

By the early ‘60s the art deco building was the industry’s most prestigious New York address, with 165 separate music businesses, each adhering to what became known as the Brill Building approach.  Rock n’ Roll, by its very nature embodied unpredictable, sometimes rebellious singers, but here world-class professionals were allowed to maintain control.  Songs were written to order and customized for specific singers, who were readily replaced if they became unmanageable.

While it remains the home to various music businesses today, in its 1950s/60s prime the Brill Building was known as “the most important generator of popular songs in the Western world” and included such hit generators as:  Neil Diamond, Bobby Darin, Laura Nyro, Neil Sedaka, Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Jerry Landis (aka Paul Simon), Phil Spector…and Burt Bacharach & Hal David, who eventually wrote and/or produced 38 charted singles for their singer of choice, Dionne Warwick.

One of those hits is, of course, today’s selection, with Warwick’s original version peaking at Number 4 on the Billboard Chats in 1967.  Someone who especially liked the song was the “Queen of Soul” herself, Aretha Franklin and while rehearsing for her 1968 album “Aretha Now” she and her backup singers, the Sweet Inspirations, decided to sing it just for the fun of it.  With a little encouragement from her producer Jerry Wexler (based in the Brill Building, naturally) a track was recorded for the album and it resulted in Franklin’s biggest UK hit when it reached Number 4 on the British Charts.  In the U.S. it peaked at Number 3.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Wednesday 29 August 

I Say a Little Prayer for You

 The moment I wake up

Before I put on my makeup

I say a little pray for you

While combing my hair now,

And wondering what dress to wear now,

I say a little prayer for you

Forever, and ever, you’ll stay in my heart

And I will love you

Forever, and ever, we never will part

Oh, how I love you

Together, forever, that’s how it must be

To live without you

Would only mean heartbreak for me.

 I run for the bus, dear,

While riding I think of us, dear,

I say a little prayer for you.

At work I just take time

And all through my coffee break-time,

I say a little prayer for you.

 Forever, and ever, you’ll stay in my heart

And I will love you

Forever, and ever we never will part

Oh, how I’ll love you

Together, forever, that’s how it must be

To live without you

Would only mean heartbreak for me.

 I say a little prayer for you

I say a little prayer for you

 My darling believe me, (believe me)

For me there is no one but you!

Please love me too (answer his pray)

And I’m in love with you (answer his pray)

Answer my prayer now babe (answer his pray)

Forever, and ever, you’ll stay in my heart

And I will love you

Forever, and ever we never will part

Oh, how I’ll love you

Together, forever, that’s how it must be

To live without you

Would only mean heartbreak for me (oooooooooh)

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