The next song I wanted to share from the album is Where Do You Start? with music by Johnny Mandel and lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman.
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I’ve talked a little of why I chose to record “Where Do You Start?” in my post about Finalising The Artwork, but when I began to research the song further, I uncovered the writers’ wonderful love story. The music is by Johnny Mandel and the lyrics are by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The Bergmans both grew up in Brooklyn, but they never met until they moved independently to Los Angeles for work. The catalyst for their meeting was the composer Lew Spence. Alan was working with him in the morning and Marilyn was his afternoon collaborator. One day, Lou decided to introduce the two lyricists and a marriage and working partnership that has lasted for over fifty years was born.
Some of the many songs they have written lyrics for, include Nice ‘n’ Easy, The Windmills of Your Mind, Yellow Bird and How Do You Keep The Music Playing? After The Way We Were and You Don’t Bring Me Flowers the Bergmans cemented their long working partnership with Barbara Streisand, when they collaborated with her on the Academy Award winning score of Yentl, with music by Michel Legrand. It was also with Michel Legrand that they wrote the lyrics for What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? – which is also on my new CD!
When David Newton asked me if I knew the song Where do you start? he suggested I listen to Shirley Horn’s version. The song features on her 1992 CD called Here’s To Life. Johnny Mandel, who wrote the song, had won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals for the album (on which he also conducted the orchestra). He also wrote A Time For Love which features on the same CD. Click on the album cover to hear Shirley sing Where Do you Start?
But it was Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s story that fascinated me most of all. I found a great link which you can listen to here, where the couple are interviewed by Terry Gross on an excellent radio show called Fresh Air, produced by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and distributed throughout the United States by National Public Radio. There are some great insights into their working relationship with Sinatra!
In my blog about The Big Day – The Recording Process, I explained that we started the day’s recording session with Where Do You Start? in Dmajor. This meant that my lowest notes were a D natural below middle C – for those of you who don’t read music that’s pretty low for a girl. It’s the key that Shirley Horn sings the song in, but she was 58 at the time of the recording.
Here’s a clip for you to hear my first version in D major.[audio:https://www.heathercairncross.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Where_Do_You_Start_Low.mp3|titles=Where Do You Start? Low key|bg=0x0000ff|lefticon=0×000000|righticon=0xE0166E|loader=0xE0166E]
Now here is the version we did at the end of the second day in F Major, when I was so warmed up that D major was far too low for me. Notice how the colour of my voice in the higher key gives the song a completely different feel. More wistful than world-weary perhaps? Andrew Cleyndert made me sing the beginning in both keys, swapping back and forth and when I asked him why, he explained that he was so surprised at the difference a minor third can make that he wanted to make sure he wasn’t imagining it. You can also hear very clearly how Andrew was working on the general sound of the tracks by the later versions, adjusting the ratio of the voice to piano and also varying the levels of the different microphones he had placed in around the instrument.[audio:https://www.heathercairncross.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Where_do_you_start_cd.mp3|titles=Where Do You Start high key|bg=0x0000ff|lefticon=0×000000|righticon=0xE0166E|loader=0xE0166E]
The first version is the original, basic mix that he sent to me on the three cds containing over fifty takes for me to choose from. I think you’ll agree the final version sounds much more rounded – and there is also a higher general level. For me the performance is much simpler and stripped back – I was still finding my way at the beginning of the first day and obviously Dave and I were working more as a team after we’d finished recording 18 songs.
Talking of interpretation, I found this video of Bea Arthur (famous for the American sitcom, The Golden Girls). I really like what she does with Where Do You Start? but it’s much faster and more angry and resentful than the way I had understood the song lyrics to be – interesting!
I’ll leave you with the beautiful Kenny Rankin version that I heard in that Paris record shop, the voice and lyrics that made me stop and listen. I bought the CD on the strength of that one song.
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