Today is the ninetieth birthday of Marilyn Bergman, one half of one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of our time. Marilyn's catalogue with her husband Alan includes "The Windmills of Your Mind", "Nice 'n' Easy", "The Way We Were", "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", "In the Heat of the Night", "It Might Be You", and many more songs from blockbuster movies, classic albums and the Top 40 singles chart.
I first met them back in the Eighties, after I'd said something about them on the BBC. Evidently, it had gotten back to them, and they thought it of interest, and a few weeks later (in those pre-email days) I opened an envelope to find that they were coming to London and were interested to know whether I was free for lunch. I tried to come up with a restaurant suitable for guests who get three Oscar nominations in one year, and, as you might expect, I overthought the matter. So I picked disastrously, and Marilyn didn't enjoy the food at all.
But the conversation went pretty well - as I hope it does here. From the Steyn archives, I talk to Alan Bergman about the songs he and Marilyn have written, and we'll hear them performed by Frank Sinatra, Dusty Springfield, Sting, the Mills Brothers, Ray Charles, Patti Austin, James Ingram, Chris Isaak, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Stephen Bishop, Frankie Laine and many more. We'll also enjoy a couple of songs that pre-date the partnership - "That Face" and "Champion the Wonder Horse" - and we'll take a brief detour on Marilyn's birthday to honor her mentor, songwriter Bob Russell, from Duke Ellington to the Hollies.
To hear Part One of this On the Town special, simply click above. Part Two can be found here. And, as this special presentation is in lieu of our regular Song of the Week essay, I should mention that two of the songs we feature in tonight's show - "Nice 'n' Easy" and "The Windmills of Your Mind" - are analyzed by me in more detail here and here.
If you enjoy our musical endeavors here at SteynOnline, come join us for a couple of live Mark Steyn Shows in Montreal the week after next. We have some great musical guests, and will be including a live performance of a classic song by the Bergmans.
There's a whole cavalcade of musical delights over on our new music home page, where you'll find easy-to-access live performances by everyone from Herman's Hermits to Liza Minnelli; Mark's interviews with Chuck Berry, Leonard Bernstein and Bananarama (just to riffle through the Bs); and audio documentaries on P G Wodehouse's songs, John Barry's Bond themes, Simon after Garfunkel, and much more. We'll be adding to the archive in the months ahead, but, even as it is, we hope you'll find the new SteynOnline music home page a welcome respite from the woes of the world.