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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

The Scylla and Charybdis of On Broadway

On Broadway is a what we used to call a hardy perennial in the music business. It’s an easy hanger to drape musical garments on. It’s got legs. Everyone recognizes it, but isn’t bored with it. It’s basically a groove.

This final version of it was written by songwriting royalty, a chimera of Lieber and Stoller and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill. There were earlier versions of it that didn’t click, or sound much like the famous Drifters version. It’s interesting that it was actually written on Broadway, at the Brill Building, which was heaving with songwriters back then. It was a (re)written for a hastily scheduled recording session, presided over by Phil Spector, who I gather played guitar on it, too. It made it to #9 on the charts, and became kind of ubiquitous when it was featured in ten billion late-night commercials for Radio Free Europe, depicting benighted Hungarians listening to the “in sound from the outside.”

George Benson revved it back up in 1978. George was a smoove jazz dude, and notable for his scat singing. He’d sing the same notes he was playing in his solos. That was unusual, and he was handsome and had a pleasant singing voice, and that was enough to get to #2 on the charts, and a Grammy.

So let’s see what’s up with On Broadway lately. Exhibit A: The unexpected On Broadway

Well, now. There appear to be enough people at that performance to sack Rome, if they felt like it. Since AC/DC is from Australia, if they’re all Australians, they don’t feel like it because it’s too a long walk to Italy, but otherwise they’d be up for it. But Angus McKangaroo sure can spank that plank, can’t he?

OK, let’s see Exhibit B: The old timer. Can George still do it?

Hmm. George is 111 years old, and still has women trying to assault him onstage. He’s playing an off-brand borrowed guitar. He appears to be using toll change for a guitar pick. And he still sangs it, sangs it, sangs it, don’t he?

Advantage: Benson.

One Response

  1. Jeez, I’m gettin’ old; I recall when GB was the heir apparent to Wes Montgomery. Now it looks to me like Ol’ George is channeling the spirit of the late James Brown, and killin’ it.. The man’s got more cool in his pickin’ fingers than most rappers have in their whole heads.

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