Now in his tenth year performing at the Café Carlyle, Steve Tyrell started his set this week wondering why audiences rarely ask for songs by the songwriters' names, only by the crooners who made them famous. And so began a show organized around a history of the American songwriter: "Taking a Chance on Love," Vernon Duke's tune with John LaTouche and Ted Fetter's lyrics, Harry Woods' "The Way You Look Tonight," "Try a Little Tenderness" and "What a Little Moonlight Can Do." He sang Isham Jones-Gus Kahn's "It Had to be You," and Sammy Cahn's "It's Magic," spontaneously pointing his mike at a woman in the first row who gamely completed the refrain.
Accompanied by a first rate band including Quinn Johnson on piano, David Finck on bass, Bob Mann on guitar, Kevin Winard on drums and Jon Allen on keyboards, Tyrell sang Oscar Hammerstein's "Give Me a Kiss to Build a Dream On" and Cole Porter's "Night and Day." Inevitably the theme would come to the legendary Brill Building, 1619 Broadway, and the songwriting sparring between two couples: that would sparked between two couples: Carole King and her lyricist-husband Gerry Goffin, and Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, the very story of the current Broadway musical "Beautiful."
Did you know that the words of the two most famous "girl songs" ever were written by a man, Gerry Goffin?, asked Tyrell. And then he sang, "Natural Woman," followed by "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" and threw in "On the Roof," finishing the set with Lieber & Stoller's "Stand By Me." Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Allman Brothers Band and The Rolling Stones, among others, was in the audience that night, and the affable Tyrell took a seat at his table to chat
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