From Elton John & Bernie Taupin and Carole King & Gerry Goffin to Burt Bacharach & Hal David and Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, popular music’s greatest songwriting teams have produced music that spans the generations.
But no songwriting team currently working today bridges as many generations as Alan R. Tripp and Marvin Weisbord, creators of SENIOR SONG BOOK, due for release Nov. 15, 2019. They are, arguably, the oldest professional songwriting team in pop music history.
With Tripp, the luxuriant lyricist who once wrote with the great Alan Bergman, clocking in at 102, and his “junior” songwriting partner, melody maker Weisbord, an equally robust 88, this dedicated duo has celebrated enough birthdays to traverse nearly two centuries.
And they’re just getting warmed up.
That’s a load of life experience, and with it comes the wisdom shining through in this new eight-song collection written expressly for seniors, by seniors. Moving easily from swing to tango to rumba and beyond with big band style orchestration, SENIOR SONG BOOK is brimming with music that will transport listeners back to the 1940s, with lyrics from a 2020s perspective.
Thanks to the fertile and restless minds of these two elder statesmen and the acumen and insight they’ve derived from their long, full lives, seniors who began coming of age with “the greatest generation” through the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll will no longer feel displaced and relegated to their old recordings.
Tripp, a thrice retired advertising executive, inventor and author as well, has long lamented the dearth of new music being written for seniors. As the pilot of SENIOR SONG BOOK, he has emphatically made good on his vow to fill that void.
“We found a secret,” says Tripp. “If you write music in the old style of the 1940s, the big bands, people love it. Not just older people, but younger people. But the words must not try to compete with the old times. They were too saccharine, too sweet. They weren’t the reality you get when you become older – and I’m a little older. But now in this reality of looking back at life, we could sing new words with new ideas based upon our viewpoint of what makes life good. The question of what happens between men and women. How do they get along, and not get along? What happens the second time around? How about the 3rd and 4th?
“We wanted to have some real reflections on living and put those words to the old music. So we suddenly came up with eight songs and a whole album, and that got me in this trouble I’m in right now.”
That twinkle of humor in Tripp’s explanation is the same mischievous approach he takes to his lyric writing – not to mention his overall views on life, longevity, and his own mortality. Nowhere on SENIOR SONG BOOK is that better exemplified than in the chorus of the album’s first single, “I Just Can’t Remember Your Name”:
I know I ought to kiss you, but baby there’s an issue. I just can’t remember your name.
“I interject humor into everything I can,” says Tripp. “My assessment of life is that it has enough things that are serious, that I don’t need to contribute any more trauma. Therefore, if there’s something that will help make people laugh, it will help them live longer. And if you can’t laugh, you’re doomed!”
Other songs, like “Looking in the Mirror” and “Wonder Woman,” are all similarly based on how older people view the human relationship, as both good and bad. “Looking in the Mirror” frames a person seeing life experiences pass before his eyes. And at the very end, that person he sees in the mirror is the woman he lost. Tripp calls his lyrics simply honest.
“Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t,” he says. “But if you want to live to be healthy and old, you learn to take it both ways.”
Tripp has been around so long that his life has paralleled the rise of popular music. Born during World War I, he began to form his musical tastes during the Roaring 20s as an elementary school student, and just started going through puberty during the Great Depression. As a teenager, Tripp thought he was going to make a career as a songwriter, and at 15, the Leavenworth, KS, native brought some of his compositions to sell at New York City’s infamous hit factory, the Brill Building. After knocking on several doors, he quickly discovered he could better utilize those skills in the advertising world.
“I found out that being a songwriter at that point was not compatible with eating,” he recalls. “You could do one or the other. So I went and wrote a jingle for Kool cigarettes. And I got $75. To me, it was all the money in the world. So I went into advertising.”
If, as they say, the music that sticks with you the most is the stuff one hears as a teen, that would put Tripp’s formative years right in the mid-1930s, amid the Big Band Boom.
He’s retired three times but that’s only on paper. As long as his mind remains restless, Alan R. Tripp will never stop working, even at 102. He just can’t. And won’t.
“Retirement is not being compelled by anybody but yourself to do what you do,” he says. “It doesn’t need to be about money. If you retire to slothfulness, believe me you’ll be a slob. That’s all that will happen to you. I’m semi-retired now. I actually just came back out of retirement to do this album. I’m also writing another book, which I had to stop in order to do this. So, I’m torn!”
SENIOR SONG BOOK Track Listing
1. I Just Can’t Remember Your Name
2. Looking in the Mirror
3. Wonder Woman
4. Because I Care for You
5. Best Old Friends
6. Never Too Late for Love
7. Goodbye, Goodbye Forever
8. Come On, Tell Me
9. Looking in the Mirror (remix)
10. I Just Can’t Remember Your Name (remix)