Interview by Jerry Osborne
jerry osborne
DisCoveries Magazine
September 1991
So! How many songs did you name that were hits because they were names of places?
Well, let's see what Connie says!

Connie:  "By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Kansas City, Detroit City, and I Left My Heart In San Francisco. And then there are the names of people, which also are great for many hits. When I heard picture diskLipstick on Your Collar, within eight bars I knew it was a Top 10 song without a doubt, maybe even No. 1.  So Howie, Neil and I have a meeeting to decide what we're going to put on the other side of Cupid."  Neil says "What do you expect here, a double-sided hit?"  I siad, "Yes, you can have a two-sided hit.  Look at Elvis and The Platters."  So he says, "So what do you want us to write?"  I said, "A ballad because the other side is uptempo.  I'd especially like one with the name of a person.  Look at these names.  Everytime someone writes a song about a person, it's a hit."  So Neil says, "We know, she just wants to sing about Bobby (Darin).  I said, "Don't get cute, Neil, it's not about Bobby."  I'm going to sing about Frankie.  Why? Because Frankie AvalonFrankie Avalon is one of America's hottest teenage idols.  So I want to sing about him.  Now you guys have to write the song."  So Howie asks, "Happy or sad?"  I said, "Always sad, Howie, you know that teenage girls love to cry."  So that's how we would come up with these different ideas.  And that's how they wrote Frankie which was a huge hit.  In the New York area it was even bigger than Lipstick on Your Collar.

DISC:  Neil's own version of Stupid Cupid appeared on his first LP, however, I assume he had not recorded it himself at this time.

Neil SedakaConnie:  True, he still had hadn't recorded it. At that time, Neil had a recording contrace with RCA Victor for a year, but they couldn't come up with a song for him.  That night as he and Howie went home, on the way back to Brooklyn he wrote "How I'd like to look in that little book, the one that has the lock and key," because he had seen me writing in my diary earlier that night.  By the end of that night, The Diary was written and that was Neil's first hit.

DISC:  On your next single, you took Bobby's advise and dropped the G.  You had Fallin' instead of Falling.

Connie:  Exactly.  And I called Bobby, and asked what he thought of the test pressing?  He said,  You're imitating Bobby Darin.  You didn't make that misake on Stupid Cupid--you were yourself--now you're imitating me and it's not going to make it big.  It's not a Top 10 hit."  He was right.

DISC:  It was still a successful record.

Connie:  But it wasn't me.  It was an imitation of someone else.  And the lyrics were too sexy for then.  America wasn't buying sex.  They bought the girl next door.

DISC:  With My Happiness, you returned to doing a ballad standard.  Had you heard any of the late-40s versions of it, by, say, Ella Fitzgerald or the Pied Pipers?

Connie:  Not by them, but by Jon and Sandra Steele.  I found the song in a book called the Musicians Handbook.  I did the same thing with Among My Souvenirs.  I just made a list of every standard I thought could be a great rock and roll song.  Then I went out and bought the sheet music for all of them. 
Not records that anyone else did, I wasn't interested in other recordings.  I M Boltonjust wanted to know if any would make good rock and roll songs.  Some songs I think are just the greatest, like this Back on My Feet Again by Michael Bolton.  I'm the biggest Michael Bolton fan in the world.   I wanted to use that song as an opening number and I thought, "Wow, I can't wait to do this one."  I changed some of the lyrics and made it very personal, but then I didn't like the way I sang it.  So I didn't do that one.  So that's what I did.  Anyway, I would go through the book and find these standards.

DISC:  Is that how you came up with If I Didn't Care?

Move on to PART 9 of this DISCoveries Interview and find out!

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