Remembering Steve Allen the Songwriter – Part Two

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Legend has it, Steve made a public bet with Frankie Laine that he could write 50 songs each day for one week. They sweetened the wager by ponying up a grand and sharing the experience with fans of the television program by taking it to the street. The two entertainers set up a workspace in the window of some music store in Hollywood and composed away, for all the viewers to see. Steve won the contest, and Frankie had to fork over a thousand bucks. I would love to have seen a video of the incident, sounded like fun to me. One of the songs to come out of the bit was “Let’s Go to Church Next Sunday” recorded by Perry Como and Margaret Whiting. There was another time in the 1990’s when he set up in the lobby of a hotel in Kalamazoo, Michigan to supposedly prove that he still had his songwriting chops. In one day, in front of group of over two-hundred spectators, he penned a total of 400 songs. His compositions expanded into musical theater as he contributed to about a dozen shows, mostly in the last twenty years of his life.

So here is what you can learn about writing songs from Mr. Steve Allen. Just write. And write. And even if it’s garbage, keep writing anyway. You may or may not light the world on fire, but you will perfect your craft as you go along the journey. Actually, his process is common to that of many great songwriters. Though he created many songs at the piano, most came to him while he was driving, taking a shower, having lunch or working. He admits that “This Could be the Start of Something Big” was something he actually dreamed of in his sleep. When you sum up his work in each category, it seemed effortless for him. He would create something, and move on. A fitting example is how he behaved as a piano player. He didn’t hunger for huge compensation or accolades. Many times he would play small jazz clubs around the country just to have an outlet and keep creative. Those who saw him back then probably appreciated what they experienced.

Steve Allen put in almost 79 years on this earth, and his life was a little melancholy toward the end. On October 30, 2000, a minor traffic accident triggered a subsequent heart attack later in the evening, and by 8:00 he was gone.

His curriculum vitae can be interpreted as a long list of accomplishments that motivated him in his life, and along the way, he just happened to have an audience.

May he Rest In Peace.

Dean


Source by Dean Olson

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