A minister's son from Eld City, Oklahoma, Jimmy Webb has been writing songs for over twenty-five years. The only artist to receive Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration, he is a member of the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters' Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame. According to BMI, his song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" is the third most-performed song in the last fifty years, with "Up, Up and Away" on the same list in the Top Thirty. Jimmy Webb lives in New York State. For more information, visit Jimmy Webb's official website: www.jimmywebb.com.
The only artist to receive Grammy Awards for music, lyrics and orchestration, Webb has written many of the most memorable songs performed by the Fifth Dimension ("Up, Up and Away"), Donna Summer ("MacArthur Park") and Amy Grant ("If These Walls Could Speak"), among others. Here he seeks to impart the tools of the trade to songwriters "who may be attempting the delicate transition from amateur to professional." Covering technical matters from basic chord theory and rhyme schemes to the protocol of pitching songs, Webb draws on a trove of personal anecdotes from a career spanning more than two decades. In addition to salient comments on today's music scene, Webb cites numerous examples from the past and includes sections on writing for the stage and film. Of greatest value, perhaps, are the exercises suggested for developing song ideas, which will help anyone stumbling through a period of writer's block. While Webb's fans will revel in the behind-the-scenes details of his career and a candid view of his artistic process, others may wish that the asides, finger pointing (at arrogant co-writers) and Webb's own pet peeves (e.g., no-talent spouses who insist on songwriting credits on their partner's records) had been left out. And Webb's nuts-and-bolts approach somehow undercuts every songwriter's need for that spark of absolute inspiration. For those interested in the latter, Songwriters on Songwriting: The Expanded Version (Da Capo, 1997), a collection of interviews between editor Paul Zollo and a variety of songwriters, including Webb, is the ticket. (Sept.)