Trisha Shetty (Editor)

On Broadway (song)

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"Let the Music Play"






"On Broadway" is a song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in collaboration with the team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.



Weil and Mann were based at Aldon Music, located at 1950 Broadway, New York City, and the song as written by Mann/Weil was originally recorded by the Cookies (although the Crystals' version beat them to release) and featured an upbeat lyric in which the protagonist is still on her way to Broadway and sings "I got to get there soon, or I'll just die". The song was played as a shuffle.

When Leiber/Stoller let it be known that the Drifters had booked studio time for the following day and were a song short, Mann/Weil forwarded "On Broadway". Leiber and Stoller liked the song but felt that it was not quite right and the four held an overnight brainstorming session which culminated in the better-known version of the song, now with a rock oriented groove and with a more bluesy feel which matched the new lyric in which the singer was now actually on Broadway and having a hard time. A young Phil Spector played the distinctive lead guitar solo on The Drifters' recording. The personnel for the Drifters recording is Joe Newman, Ernie Royal - trumpets; Billy Butler, Bill Suyker, Everette Barksdale - guitars; Russ Savakus - bass; Gary Chester - drums; and Phil Kraus, Nick Rodriguez, Martin Grupp - percussion. The instrumental arrangement was written by noted arranger Gary Sherman.


  • The song was a hit for the Drifters in 1963, reaching #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been recorded by many artists such as the Coasters, the Dave Clark Five, the Chipettes, Bobby Darin, Percy Faith, Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, and Nancy Sinatra.
  • Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes released a version of the song on their 1977 album, A Piece of the Rock.
  • George Benson's version of "On Broadway" from his 1978 album Weekend in L.A., hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the soul chart. Benson's version also has had substantial adult contemporary and smooth jazz radio airplay ever since. It won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance. The song appeared in the films Big Business (1988) and American Beauty (1999). Benson's performance of the song was used in the 1979 film All That Jazz in a sequence that featured dancers on stage auditioning for a musical similar to Chicago. Benson also performed "On Broadway" with Clifford and the Rhythm Rats for the 1994 Muppet album Kermit Unpigged.
  • British progressive rock group Genesis referenced the song's lyrics and melody in their song "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", the eponymous title track from their 1974 concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
  • British electro pioneer Gary Numan began performing the song on his 1979 tour, which was later released on the live album Living Ornaments '79. A studio recording was later made and has appeared on several Numan compilation albums.
  • Argentinian group Serú Girán referenced the song's melody — played by the fretless bass — in their track "Canción de Hollywood" (Hollywood song) from their 1979 album, La Grasa de las Capitales.
  • Neil Young made a version of the song on his album Freedom in 1989.
  • The song was included in the musical revue Smokey Joe's Cafe (1995).
  • An instrumental version of the song was used in the film American Beauty (1999) during the Spartanettes dance scene.
  • Paul Shaffer presented a music video with the song on one of the final episodes of the Late Show with David Letterman. The video featured cameos from Lorne Michaels, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, David Sanborn and Darlene Love.
  • American composer and producer Kramer covered the song and included it on his sixth album The Brill Building, released in 2012 by Tzadik Records.
  • Jennifer Hudson and Katharine McPhee performed the song in 2013 for the season two premiere of the television series Smash, also called "On Broadway".
  • It is featured in the Carole King musical Beautiful (2013), which tells the story of Carole and her friends Cynthia and Barry and on its cast recording.
  • References

    On Broadway (song) Wikipedia

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