Monday, August 22, 2011

Jerry Leiber: 1933-2011

I want to take a moment to note the passing of Jerry Leiber, the lyrical half of one of pop's first great songwriting teams, Leiber and Stoller. I won't bother giving you a biography, because the life of an artist is not as important to most of us as the work they leave behind. Just a few of his songs, with their performers: "Kansas City," by The Beatles (and countless others), "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care," by Buddy Holly, "Spanish Harlem," by The Mommas and The Papas, "Is That All There Is?," best performed by Cristina, and, perhaps most famously, "Jailhouse Rock" and "Hound Dog," by Elvis Presley.

Leiber's greatest contribution to the popular songbook is "Stand By Me." There are some songs that are its equal, but few, if any, that are superior. Leiber left us with a collection of songs which have left an indelible mark in the tapestry of popular music. His name may be unknown to most in my age group and younger, but his work is ingrained in our culture, and will continue to be enjoyed for as long as pop music is a force in this world.

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