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#676967 - 12/24/08 04:14 AM A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Indianapolis, IN USA
Brian's Conversation with Oscar Winning, 6 Time Grammy Nominated JPF Member Dean Pitchford

For the last 17 Years I've been formally and informally interviewing all sorts of musicians from all over the world. Some are famous, some are completely unknown but none have had the diverse career path of my latest and longest interview to date.

Dean Pitchford's career is nearly impossible to summarize. You could start with his accolades: An Oscar win and 3 nominations, A Golden Globe Award, 6 Grammy Nominations, An Album that hit #1 on Billboard for 10 weeks and knocked the biggest selling album in history out of the #1 spot, Oddles of #1 and hit songs recorded by artists as diverse as Whitney Houston, Sammy Hagar, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Roger Daltrey, Cher, MC Hammer, Merle Haggard, Hugh Jackman, Patti Labelle, Martina McBride, Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Ann Wilson, LL Cool J. and the list goes on and on (and I mean that.. on and on and on... Then we could shift to the fact that he was a starring actor on Broadway and that he sang, dance and acted his way through more than 100 major commercials and jingles. But that wouldn't even include the fact that he's a screenwriter with an iconic blockbuster movie under his belt as well as a playwright and TV director. Oh, and did I mention he's also an award winning author of young adult literature? Even that wouldn't cover his career diversity. His latest effort, the audio presentation of his first book has even earned another Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Album for Children.

And if that wasn't enough.. he's a really nice guy. The icing on the cake? He's also a JPF member and he spent an entire evening chatting with me about all of the above and more and how it all happened.

I've done a lot of interviews. But this is clearly the grand daddy of them all to date. We edited it down, but it still runs 24 pages, so we'll just link it here. Give it a read, and if you have any comments or questions, you can reply and I bet we can get Dean to answer.

I'll include both halves of the interview below! Thanks again to Dean for sharing so much of his experiences with us!

First, you might want to learn more about Dean before we start. Here's some great links to get an overview of his career in music and film.

http://www.deanpitchford.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Pitchford
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0685673/
http://www.thebigoneoh.com/
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/features/?id=1511&p=.htm

And here's a video retrospective of just his film music:
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=29784440046
--------------------------------------------------------
A Conversation With Dean Pitchford and Brian Austin Whitney

BRIAN: I’ve spoken to a lot of successful creative people with a major hit or success, but you seem to have had many different careers and significant success in each. Where did that diversity come from? You seem to have a creative “Midas Touch” going.

DEAN: (laughs) I think it has to do with 2 things. One is that I was born in Hawaii and raised in Honolulu so my experience with your culture on the mainland was ‘Gosh, what an amazing world it is over there… wouldn’t it be nice to one day be able to ________?’ and I didn’t know what the rest of that sentence was exactly. I didn’t know if I wanted to be in the music business, be on Broadway, be in television, or in film, or acting or singing or dancing.

I think sometimes people might come to a business with an idea of what it is going to be like and when it doesn’t feel like they thought it would, they accept that this is where they have to be for the rest of their life because it was their plan, whereas I just did things until another door opened, and I thought ‘That looks like fun, oh let me follow that…’ Since I didn’t come from a musical family or have a heritage or a name to uphold, that left me free to succeed or fail on my own.

The other part is that I always tried to keep myself amused. I have a short attention span and a very curious mind. For years I went into studios and on film stages and worked with artists and got songs on the charts and once that became a case of ‘God, I don’t want to have to do that again and again; I want to wear a different set of clothes today.’ Fortunately coming up I went to college and to New York and started by performing on Broadway and singing and dancing in commercials, so I always had the feeling that ‘the business’ wasn’t just in Nashville or New York or LA, I always thought that there’d be many parts of the business and my life and travels has more than borne that out.

BRIAN: You were born in Hawaii before it was a US State correct?

DEAN: I was. I was born 10 years and one week before Obama was born in the same hospital. He was born as a citizen of the US, whereas we were citizens of a territory originally and became U.S. residents when statehood was declared in 1959.

BRIAN: So from your perspective then the US must have seemed like a sort of alien country?

DEAN: It was sort of this bright shining horizon. My father was a photographer and we got a subscription to Life Magazine. Every week I’d flip through it very reverently and look at all the pictures. At that time my concept of land mass was a small island. And I remember when we’d have visitors, we could take them on a tour of Oahu, and we would drive out of the driveway one way and, after going around the island, we’d return from the opposite direction. And that was my idea of a place you lived on. So when I’d flip through the magazine and I’d see the Golden Gate Bridge and Carlsbad Caverns and the Statue of Liberty and the Delaware Water Gap, I would think ‘Whoa.. that island looks a lot more interesting than mine, which just has sandy beaches and beautiful waterfalls.’ So even at that age I thought, ‘I have to get to that wonderful island.’

It also was key that I was growing up in a very musical culture. The Hawaiian people are very demonstrative and musically inclined, and in grade school little girls took hula and little boys took ukulele and when there would be a gathering for a Mayday celebration or a pageant of the Virgin Mary or a Christmas celebration, there was always singing and dancing. And so I always thought that’s what everybody did. When I got to the mainland I was surprised that, for instance, only certain people took music classes and a separate group were the band members and nobody else was. I was raised where everybody sang and danced and played instruments. And everything was possible. I was able avoid the notion that I needed to go this or that university or become a lawyer or doctor and if I couldn’t then I’d have to throw myself off a cliff. When I went to Yale on a scholarship I found myself SURROUNDED by guys from prep schools who were coming from families with long histories of going to Yale. And they were coming pre-programmed with their families’ expectations. They were going to be a doctor or lawyer or join the family firm and all of that was sort of new to me. That seemed foreign. My world was always about possibilities. It was never about just zeroing in on something. So even when I started to do things that I did well and getting paid to do it, I still didn’t feel that I had struck the bullseye or that I had found a field where I was going to spend the next 45 years of my life.

BRIAN: So you took that musical foundation and said to yourself that anything that branched off of that was fair game, because it would have never occurred to you that there would be limitations?

DEAN: Exactly. I didn’t have any of those labels. I didn’t divide the world into pop or rock or classical music. I grew up not only listening to the radio and keeping track of the Top 10 lists from the radio every Sunday. But I also sang with the Honolulu Boys’ Opera Choir and sang in Italian or German. I performed Broadway songs and learned Hawaiian music. Plus, I was always singing hymns in church. In Latin! So when I got the east coast and found my roommates’ record collections were all of one genre, that was strange to me. I had never been asked to specialize. Many, many things were equally interesting to me.

BRIAN: So that made you sort of fearless in a way?

DEAN: Well it was fearlessness born out of ignorance. If I had truly known what I was up against, I would have frozen in my tracks.

BRIAN: Isn’t that a key to a lot of what you’ve done? I read about your difficulties making “Footloose.” If you’d known in advance how tough that process really was, you may not have tried it in the first place right?

DEAN: Oh yeah! Oh yeah. I didn’t realize how extraordinary it was, getting a film made. I didn’t realize how tough it would be to write a song and get an Academy Award for my first record. I really kind of stumbled and lurched from one thing to another. Now I look back on it and I go ‘Whoa! How in the world did I manage to navigate around all those pitfalls?’

BRIAN: You had all these impulses to go all these different directions, for a lot of people that makes it hard to put them all aside long enough to do one of them. How do you deal with those conflicting impulses?

DEAN: Well, when I decide I want to do something, I focus on that and just that. That’s the only way I can do work. Early on I started to multitask. I was a signed writer to Warner Brothers, so I’d fly to Nashville, to write there, but, in the middle of a writing session, I’d start thinking of a theatre project in New York or a film song I owed somebody in Los Angeles. And I realized that that made me very unhappy, you know, thinking ahead, worrying about things I couldn’t control. The thing that finally helped me was meditation. It calms my mind and it allows me to be here now and just give myself to that.

BRIAN: Some people say ‘I want to get in a Broadway show’ and if they are able to achieve that big goal they realize that it’s not all the things they’d hoped it would be. They’re surprised by how little it changes anything. Have you had that type of experience?

DEAN: I might have if I’d just stopped there and looked down the tunnel and seen just an endless stream of auditions and roles. Instead, I looked at my first two jobs in New York as scholarships to continue my education. I was cast in “Godspell” and did that for a year and a half, and then Bob Fosse put me into “Pippin.” And with the money I was making, I went to dance classes and voice lessons. I went to the New School, where I took a course in recording studio technique. I went to Julliard and studied composition in the extension program. And I basically filled my days with classes and learning. When I went to Yale, I got a basic liberal arts education.

BRIAN: You weren’t a theater student at Yale?

DEAN: When I went there, undergraduates could not major in theater. You could graduate with a bachelor of arts, and the famous Yale Drama School was a graduate school. So while I was an undergraduate there, Sigourney Weaver and Meryl Streep and Henry Winkler and all these famous people were in grad school.

BRIAN: So you were already writing poetry, but you still went the direction of acting and dancing and singing which you had a talent for as well. How did your career develop so that you left behind acting and singing? How were you able to step away from that?

DEAN: I did a bunch of shows, but what were really my bread and butter were commercials. I did over 100 commercials acting, singing, dancing and doing voice-over work. When I finally stopped performing and separated from the agent who represented me, I had this incredible revelation that I hated to audition. I HATED to audition. I loved performing, but I hated to go and stand in front of people and be judged. I had kept that realization at bay for as many years as I needed to in order to get the jobs. But when I finally stopped doing it, I was so happy.

BRIAN: So do you miss that part of your life? Do you think about what could have been? That you could have acted alongside of Meryl Streep in a movie?

DEAN: No, I don’t. I say that with great respect for lots of the people who do it, but I have to confess I’m happy that I don’t have to. I realized that I was not made for that.

BRIAN: You were able to jump into a lot of things as an outsider. You weren’t in the ‘in’ crowd, but you sort of came in and had success right away. How were you able to break into the ‘good old boy network’ in these different career paths and go in for a surgical strike and have success right away?

DEAN: I wasn’t aware that there was a ‘good old boy network.’ I never had any idea that my writing would pay. Even when I began writing songs in New York and working with the likes of Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken and Rupert Holmes, I had no idea what kind of a living one could make doing any of this. I was just loving what I was doing. I think that rather than using a laser beam and thinking that ‘Ah, that’s the job I want,’ I used a buckshot approach. I just went ‘kablooey’ and went off in many different directions. I worked with a lot of people on a lot of different projects rather than putting all my eggs in one basket.

BRIAN: You’re confirming something I’ve been teaching starting writers and artists: it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. The fact was that, by doing all these projects everybody knew you. So when they needed somebody to do something and they know you’re a competent guy, why wouldn’t they ask for you?

DEAN: That’s it. At the start of my career I thought maybe I shouldn’t have spent those years at Yale. Maybe I really should have been in New York writing pop songs. But the fact of the matter is that the time I spent in college is invaluable, because I learned about literature, about history, about art. I learned about so many, many things on so many many levels. And that made me a citizen of the world.

You have to understand: the fear I always lived with was ‘My god, what if this doesn’t pan out or if this dries up? I need to be ready for the next thing and the next thing.’ My parents were both children of the Depression. Growing up, we did not have money, and my father left the family when I was 11. We were raised watching every dime and always preparing for the possibility that everything we’re enjoying right now might all go away. And then the question you ask is, ‘If this all disappears, and I can no longer do what I’m trained to do, would I be happy doing… blah blah blah?’ So I created a career path along those lines. I’d be really happy doing what I was doing for the moment, but if a record executive wouldn’t listen to one of my songs, I’d find myself thinking, “Could I be happy writing for television? Could I be happy writing novels? Would I be happy going back to work in the theater?’ All of which I could answer ‘yes’ to. Every time something nice happened, I just went ‘Whoa! How cool is that?’ And then I just went on.

BRIAN: You’ve got all these highlights and I’ve always believed that life isn’t a highlight reel; it’s everything that doesn’t make the highlight reel.

DEAN: (laughs) Yes… yes…

BRIAN: So people are looking at all these highlights, but there had to be a lot of times when things didn’t work out, and everything wasn’t a hit.

DEAN: Oh no no no no no! I think if you look at everything I have done, for example for every song I have written that has been recorded, there were 15 that were not.

When I was doing commercials in New York, there was a very buckshot approach. In a day I could audition for 3 to 6 commercials. If I booked a commercial once a month I was doing GREAT. So out of 100 auditions I would book 1. But if I booked the right one, like Dr. Pepper or Burger King or Odor Eaters or M&M’s -- when I did those commercials, they paid very nicely. And then I could spend the next month once again not getting the commercial for another 99 tries.

Same thing was true for every 15 songs I wrote, 1 might get cut. I would say that for every 10 screenplays I wrote, 1 was made. I wrote spec screenplays, I wrote screenplays on order, I wrote for executives who were fired. I’d be in the process of writing a film, and the studio executives would all change. Then the new administration at the studio would have no interest in the project that a previous executive had ordered. It’s the same thing at a record label. You can be signed by one A&R executive, and then your A&R guy goes bye-bye, and all the artists who were signed by him go bye-bye, too. For every success I have, I have an ‘Oh, my god! I can’t believe that blew up or ended the way that it did.’

BRIAN: Can you tell me about some of the mentors you’ve had in your life that made a huge difference?

DEAN: The first was Peter Allen. We took voice lessons from the same teacher in New York, and that’s when I first got to know and began writing with him. Peter was a performing songwriter and so everything we wrote was for him. I was writing for a character that I knew. I would bring him lyrics and rhythms and melodies and he would say ‘That’s me,’ or ‘That’s not me.’ That was a very valuable lesson. I was always having to step out of my skin and step into his and ask ‘If I were Peter Allen on stage, would I sing this?’

Then I began working with Michael Gore on “Fame.” He saw my work in Peter Allen’s show, and he called me and said, ‘I’m working on this new film that’s shooting in New York, do you want to write songs and see whether any of them will make the movie?’ Michael is the brother of Leslie Gore (‘It’s My Party’), the largest selling female artist of the 1960’s. Michael was this wunderkind. From an early age he was an amazing piano player, and when he was 12, 13, 14 years old, he was writing songs with Carol Bayer Sager, and those songs were going on his sister’s records. Then he went on to studying classical music and producing and working with Leonard Bernstein. He produced classical records for Columbia in London, but he had this solid grounding in pop. So he asked me to work with him on ‘Fame.’ We wrote 13 songs, and 3 of them made the cut.

BRIAN: Did you know you were writing for Irene Cara (who recorded ‘Fame,’) or did that come later?

DEAN: No. We knew that, in the plot of the movie, Irene Cara’s character had been recording songs written by Bruno, the keyboard artist. And Bruno’s father had taken a tape that they had made and stuck it in his cab’s stereo and played it out of big-ass speakers he mounted on the top of his cab. That plot point was in the movie, but what was going to be heard coming out of the speakers on top of the cab was not decided before the movie started shooting. We just knew that it would something that Irene Cara’s character would have done the vocal for.

BRIAN: It had to be a showstopper.

DEAN: It had to be a showstopper. It had to be infectious, ‘dancey,’ but the imagery had to be very ‘streety.’ ‘I can catch the moon in my hand/Don’t you know who I am?’ Things like that. Then at the other end of the spectrum, when we wrote the finale ‘I Sing the Body Electric,’ I lifted that line out Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass.’

BRIAN: That you learned at Yale?

DEAN: Yes, I remembered the phrase, ‘I sing the body electric,’ and then I went on from there. “Fame” was set in the High School of Performing Arts, and I figured that the kids there are not only studying dance, but they’re studying English and history and art, so at one point they would have crossed paths with Walt Whitman and Hemingway and so forth. So I was writing ‘streety’ for Irene Cara, and when we did the finale, Michael and I wrote a pop, classic, rock, anthemic piece for soloist, orchestra, rock ensemble, dancers and a gospel choir.

BRIAN: And you knew all that going in?

DEAN: We knew the director wanted to utilize as much of the student body as he could. So we built this number is such a way that we got to see everybody.

BRIAN: So when did you think of the word “Fame?”

DEAN: Actually when I went to work on this movie it was called “Hot Lunch.” When it started shooting, Michael Gore was on the set advising Alan Parker, the director, as to what pieces of music should be used in a ballet class, and what the cellist can be playing in the hallway, that sort of thing. So he would come home at the end of the day and call me and say ‘Alan wants to do a girl group number, Alan wants to do this or that,’ and I would run over to his apartment and we’d try to write something to meet Alan’s expectations. And sometimes, before he’d even hear our song, Alan would say ‘Nah… forget it… I don’t have the budget for that!’ and that song would go on the scrap heap. So, one day Michael came home and said the movie is no longer called ‘Hot Lunch;’ Alan had decided he wanted it to be called ‘Fame.’

BRIAN: Aha!

DEAN: On the one hand it’s a fabulous title. On the other hand, it was a fabulous title a year earlier when David Bowie had an international hit song with his ‘Fame.’ So Alan Parker, being British, I think was influenced by a love of David Bowie and the possibilities that word conjured up. But it put me in the very difficult position of trying to bring another identity to a word that has so significantly been branded.

BRIAN: I think you did it. I don’t recall any cries that it was a rip off of David Bowie’s song?

DEAN: Oh no, they couldn’t be more different musically. I can take credit for the title “Footloose,” but Alan Parker named ‘Fame.’

BRIAN: But the lines that come after that are the key and those were your words right?

DEAN: Absolutely.

BRIAN: “I’m gonna live forever!”

DEAN: Actually those words came to me while Michael played at the piano. He played it to me in stages. First he played the vamp for me one afternoon (hums the intro to Fame) and I said ‘Oh... that’s awesome!’ And he said ‘Leave me alone! Let me go back to work!’ So I left, and about 9:30 that night he called me and said, ‘I think I’ve got something!’ We lived about 5 blocks from each other in New York, so I ran over, and he played (hums the build up to the chorus) the entire verse. And I said ‘Oh, this is great! I should go to work on this!’ And he said ‘No, don’t, because now I have to find a chorus.’ And, like, 24 hours later -- the next night -- I got a late night phone call. And again I ran over to his place. And he played (hums the crescendo to the word ‘Fame’) FAME! He knew where to put the word ‘Fame’ (hums the chorus melody that follows) and I said ‘You mean something like I’M GONNA LIVE FOREVER?’ And he lifted his hands off the keyboard -- I’m still getting chills as I say this -- he lifted his hands off the keyboard, and his eyes bugged out, and he went ‘Oh…! Oh…! WRITE THAT DOWN, WRITE THAT DOWN!’ And I was equally stunned at what had come out of me. And I went, ‘Michael, I’m not going to forget that.’ And that was when we knew we had a song. He had sung ‘FAME,’ and I had just sung ‘I’m gonna live forever’ after hearing the melody for only the second time.

BRIAN: That’s awesome! It’s pleasing to me to hear that it still gets you fired up.

DEAN: Can I also tell you that -- before we made the decision that Michael was going to come at it melodically -- we had tried for almost 4 weeks for me to come at it lyrically. So it’s not like Michael sat down and played this thing and I walked in and just nailed it. I had spent every day, 6 or 7 days a week, for 4 weeks, writing page after page of lyrics. I would distill them down sometimes to just 2 decent lines, or to something I thought might open a chorus. I would take it over to Michael, and he would put his hands on the keyboard and I’d tiptoe out. Then he’d call me later and tell me it wasn’t working, and I’d go back to work. I only tell you that because, although ‘I Sing the Body Electric’ came to me on a walk from 72nd Street to 78th Street, ‘Fame’ took weeks and weeks and notebooks full of prep. My challenge was how to approach that word without sounding so full of oneself that the singer was off-putting to the listener.

BRIAN: That line today is now ingrained in the DNA of every creative someone who wants to have big success. So it gives ME chills to talk to the guy who created such a seminal line and song in the world of pop culture. I asked Steve Seskin (Hit Country Writer with 7 #1 songs and a JPF Mentor) if it had gotten any easier for him since he’s had all those hits, and he told me that aside from name recognition, it really hadn’t gotten any easier for him because at any given time you’re still competing with the world’s best who also want that opportunity.

DEAN: All it really means is that you can get your song listened to. It doesn’t mean your song gets recorded.

BRIAN: So there’s no easy pathway, even with your track record? You don’t get the benefit of the doubt based on your previous success?

DEAN: No. No. Especially not now. The business has changed significantly since I first got into it, and there’s more consolidation going on. There are fewer record labels signing fewer acts. Plus, there are little mini-empires that are built around an artist and the producer who’s tied to that artist.

BRIAN: Yes, it’s a producers game now isn’t it?

DEAN: It really is.

BRIAN: You did 22 drafts of the screenplay for “Footloose.” Are you someone who does happy to do rewrites?

DEAN: I might defend the status quo for a moment or two, but while I am defending what’s on the page, my mind is racing in another direction and I’m thinking how can I solve the problem that my creative partners are suggesting -- either with a song or with a script. I don’t cling to things and stomp my foot and say, ‘No! You film the movie or record the song the way I wrote it!’

Tom Snow and I wrote a song for Barbra Streisand’s Christmas album, ‘Christmas Memories,’ about 4 years ago. The album was made composed of traditional songs. I think she only cut one new song -- ours. The song is called ‘Closer.’ It’s a song about missing somebody at Christmastime and wishing that maybe next year we could be closer. But it was closer, too, in a universal sense. Spiritually, physically, intellectually closer. She loved what we sent her; Tom’s melody was just so gorgeous. But then Barbra asked for a number of lyric revisions. So I would do the rewrites, trying to accommodate her. And her producer Jay Landers would call and say, ‘Barbra is having a problem with these two lines.’ Or, ‘Can you strengthen this or that.’ And this went on for a long time, and I worried that I wasn’t any closer to giving Barbra what she needed to feel truly invested in the song. Then suddenly, just as we were getting ready to hit the drop dead date where they were going to have to record this, Barbra suddenly hit on an idea. Barbra has a dear friend named Donna Karan, the famous clothes designer, and Donna’s husband, with whom Barbra was very close, had died that year. So Barbra suddenly had this idea that the song should be for Donna about her husband, and Barbra dedicated the album to him. So when she found this unifying concept, I was able to give her the lyric that brought the whole thing together. See, Barbra records songs the way she makes movies: she needs the screenplay in her mind. I didn’t understand that she was still struggling to find that very clean storyline between what she was trying to figure out to say and what the song could be. And when she said that it has to be for Donna’s husband, I went ‘Ahhhh…I get it now.’

Then right after Barbra recorded the song, 9/11 happened, and the song became a touchstone for many people. Me, included. Because I lost my own sister in the World Trade Center attack.

BRIAN: I read about that. Was she working there?

DEAN: Patricia was working for a firm called Marsh McClennon. That day -- September 11 -- when my friend Jay Landers (Barbra’s producer) walked into the studio to tell Barbra what had happened to my sister, she was in the middle of mixing ‘Closer.’ Barbra was so moved that she went on her blog and wrote about my sister and posted the lyric to ‘Closer’ on her website. And the site got a huge number of hits, and suddenly the story was on Entertainment Tonight and mentioned on The Today Show, and on and on. But, really, what had happened was Barbra and I had gone on this long journey to find the universality in that song. And, in doing so, we created something that -- two weeks before, had spoken to one woman who had lost her husband -- and now was suddenly, a month later, relevant to the lives of thousands of people.

(I then shared a personal story with Dean about my co-writing partner and band mate who died as a result of the 9-11 attacks as well as our member Tim Laborie who lost his daughter in-law who was a stewardess on one of the planes. Tim wrote a song about it called “Who Killed Katherine Laborie” which later won an award in the JPF Music Awards).

DEAN: Well, bringing it all back around to our original premise, my path to songwriting has been that I became someone who wrote for other people. There are the singer-songwriters like Tim Laborie, and if one is himself the writer and performer, then a different kind of discipline goes into that. I strive for universality in my songs, a shared sentiment. That may be why my songs end up getting cut over and over.

BRIAN: It might be valuable for a writer/artist to try and write for others just for that universality that you talk about, even if it was just as an exercise to broaden their own work. On a related topic, I noted your work with Jim Steinman, (well known for his work with Meatloaf), and I always thought of him first as a lyricist. When I saw that you wrote the lyrics and he wrote the music (to “Holding Out for a Hero” in the film “Footloose”) I thought that was strange because that song sounds like Jim Steinman wrote the lyrics. How were you able to go in and write in his style?

DEAN: We sort of ba-a-a-a-cked into that. And the way we ba-a-a-a-cked into that was I working with a sensational music supervisor on “Footloose” whose name is Becky Mancuso. I was trying to cast the singers in the soundtrack so that they were the alter egos of the kids that we saw on screen. I knew that we needed a female voice that would be the voice of Lori Singer in that movie.

A producer friend of Becky’s had turned her on to a record that was happening in Australia by this singer named Bonnie Tyler. It had not broken in the States yet. And it was called ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart.’ Becky played me this record, and I said ‘Oh my god, I remember that girl’s voice! Didn’t she do (he sings) ‘It’s a Heartache, nothing but a Heartache?’ So we got very very excited about this singer, and we set about trying to find Bonnie Tyler. We learned was that she was signed to Columbia Records, so we started by calling Columbia Records in California. They said ‘Ummm… she wasn’t signed out of this office. ‘It’s a Heartache’ was a country hit. Maybe she was signed out of Nashville.’ So we called Nashville, and they said ‘No no no. I thinks she’s European or something. She must have been signed out of New York or maybe London.’ Then we tracked down someone at Sony in London who was part of her A&R team. I think the story was that she’d actually been found in London, but she’s from Wales, and here she was having a hit in Australia. So we finally get hold of Bonnie’s people, made a deal with her to sing a song in “Footloose,” and, because Jim Steinman was her writer and producer, he came along as part of the package.

Then, while we were starting to work on our record, a station in Cleveland broke ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ and it took off all over the U.S. and went to #1. Suddenly Becky and I looked like the smartest people on the block. As for Jim, Jim Steinman’s a fiercely good musician. He’s a mad hot piano player and a phenomenal orchestrator. He also does most of his lyrics, but in this case I was writing all the lyrics for my film, and Jim agreed to collaborate, bless his heart.

BRIAN: So he was okay with all that.

DEAN: Yes. So I ‘went to school’ on Jim Steinman on all the (he scat sings a familiar Jim Steinman melodic Meatloff-esque riff) type stuff he’s known for and I wrote that lyric in Jim’s style.

The same thing with Sammy Hagar. I sent Sammy Hagar the “Footloose” script, and, when we got to meet, I told Sammy the scene I wanted him to do a song for. He played me some riffs on his guitar, he played me some melodies, he played me some licks and I picked and chose. I said, ‘Oh, two bars of that… no.. can you join that up to blah blah blah’ and he’s looking at me like I’m a crazy person. I said, ‘Okay put those all together, that’s the verse. Now, as for the chorus… I know I want this song to be called ‘The Girl Gets Around.’ He was not used to being pushed around like that. And at any moment I was so afraid that he was going to throw down his guitar pick and say this is all over. But at the end of our work session he gave me a cassette of the song’s general shape, and I went home and worked through the weekend. Then I sent him a fax with my lyric and he called me immediately, ECSTATIC. He was over the moon!

BRIAN: Let me ask you about compensation. How does it work for you? Most of the time when I see a credit for the hits that you have it doesn’t say song written by you and somebody else, it says Lyrics by Dean Pitchford, Music by Sammy Hagar or whatever. Do you only get paid when the lyrics are used, or do you get a 50-50 split on all of it whether it’s an instrumental version or a full version with lyric?

DEAN: When music and words are joined together they are copyrighted and they become -- oh, there’s some legal term -- they become an ‘indivisible entity’ or something like that. The music and the lyrics go forward as one organism.

BRIAN: But there can be some scenarios where those two rights are separated correct?

DEAN: I’ll tell you when that happens. You get something like the “Theme from the Godfather.” (hums the famous Godfather theme). That was written for the motion picture. The motion picture comes along and someone thinks ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could get Al Martino to sing (whatever those lyrics turned out to be).’ So a separate deal is made in a case like that because someone’s jumping on a bandwagon that’s already rolling. In cases like that, there are separate deals made so that the lyricist only gets paid on the sung version of the song. But no, when I go in the room with a composer and we come out with a song, I’m a big believer in 50-50.

BRIAN: But your work still often has a separation of ‘Lyrics by Dean Pitchford, Music by whomever,’ even though you often add to the music and sometimes your partner offers some of the lyric.

DEAN: That terminology stuff happens usually because of the publisher. For instance, if it is published in the Kenny Loggins songbook, you’ll find ‘Music by Kenny Loggins’ throughout the book. And then on other sheet music it will say ‘Music and Lyric by Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford.’ I’ve seen my songs identified both ways. It doesn’t really make any difference.

BRIAN: So you’re friends with Kenny Loggins? His son Crosby performed at one of our JPF events in Santa Barbara a few years ago.

DEAN: Oh, yeah. We still correspond as a matter of fact.

BRIAN: On to your movie “Footloose.” Aside from writing the songs and the screenplay, what else was your involvement? We sometimes hear screenwriters say once they finish a script they have no further input, and at other times they’re directly involved throughout. What about you?

DEAN: I was very present throughout. For the most part when a screenplay goes into production, the studio can generally say goodbye to the scriptwriter. They may bring the screenwriter to the set and say, ‘We’re running a little long could you trim 4 or 5 pages?’ and THEN they say goodbye. That was the case with me. Paramount flew me up to Utah where we were shooting, the script was overlong, and I spent 4 or 5 days up there making cuts, hearing the script read through and then they said, ‘Okay, we no longer need to pay for a hotel room for you, we’re putting you on next flight back to LA.’ And if I had been only the screenwriter, I would come home and sit and twiddle my thumbs until I got an invitation to the opening night.

As it was, I had to come back and immediately start the work of building the soundtrack. We only had 2 songs of the original soundtrack in place before we started shooting. One was “Footloose,” although we had not properly demoed it because Kenny had to go off on a tour of the Far East. So we did not use “Footloose” as a playback; we used “Johnny B Good” as the playback in the movie.

BRIAN: You recorded a lot of those scenes and then wrote songs to fit exactly with the already filmed scene?

DEAN: We certainly had to write and match the same tempo. But that was exactly the case with the movie “Fame.” Except for ‘I Sing the Body Electric,’ which was shot with actors singing on screen, the songs ‘Fame’ and ‘Redlight’ we both laid in in place of two Donna Summer tracks. “Fame” has the same click as “Hot Stuff,” for instance

So as I was saying, I came back from the set of “Footloose” in Utah and was working with Becky Mancuso in a trailer at Paramount every single day, trying to get people to write with me and sing these songs and fill out this soundtrack. The whole album was delivered for 300,000 dollars. That means that every track got 30,000 dollars and that was for songwriters fees, artists fees, and studio costs.

BRIAN: How much box office did Footloose end up doing?

DEAN: Domestically it made 85 Million dollars. If you adjust it for inflation today it made, like, over 240 million dollars in the US alone.

BRIAN: Which is a major blockbuster...

DEAN: MAJOR blockbuster. And you turn on the television any weekend and there’s Footloose playing somewhere. And the album, the last time I got any kind of a tally, has sold in excess of 17 million copies.

BRIAN: And you wrote how many songs on that?

DEAN: I wrote 9. And then, as you pointed out on the message boards, we are actually on a Trivial Pursuit game card as the answer to ‘What album bumped Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ off the #1 Billboard album chart?’

BRIAN: Bumping the #1-selling album of all time off the top spot on the album chart. What a cool little factoid!

DEAN: It was COOL!

BRIAN: And at the time, with the monster that ‘Thriller’ was, what was your reaction when you knocked him out of #1?

DEAN: You know what, I hadn’t put it all in perspective. There was no Soundscan then. These days, if Britney Spears releases an album today, next week it will be #1. At the time of “Footloose,” you’d release an album and it might enter at 68, then jump to 32, then 18, then 11, and 5 and then # 1. So from the time that the movie opened to the time that we went to #1, we worked our way up the chart. For weeks. And even when we got to #1, there was no guarantee that Michael Jackson wouldn’t re-take the top spot. But after two, three, four weeks, it became clearer and clearer that Michael Jackson wasn’t coming back. We just didn’t realize that we’d be on top for two and a half months.

BRIAN: Where did the “Footloose” single go on the charts?

DEAN: Footloose went to #1 for three weeks. Then three weeks later ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’ went to #1 for two weeks. But that song went to #1 across the boards. It was #1 Dance, A/C, R&B, and Pop. Then the album went worldwide. It was the #1 album of the year in Japan, Israel, South Africa, Germany, and on and on.

BRIAN: Did they dub the movie in those languages?

DEAN: I don’t know what they did. They probably dubbed it; it’s much more accessible that way. In Japan because the soundtrack was so enormous, Sony in Japan did a companion album where they re-cut all the songs with Japanese artists and they sent me a copy of it. It’s in my basement someplace, and the interesting this is that they translated all the lyrics except the title so every song is still called what it’s called in English and every other word in the song is Japanese.

BRIAN: (Laughing) Now, see, not too many people get to have that sort of experience to hear their stuff done like that. Do you just sit back sometimes and appreciate the uniqueness of your life?

DEAN: Oh, I appreciate it a lot. Speaking of which, my first novel ‘The Big One Oh,’ has been sold to sub-publishers in South Korea, Israel and Italy, and three weeks ago I got the South Korean edition! It’s so amazing. They added more artwork, so there’re 12 colored plates throughout the book. It’s on fantastic quality paper, and it’s in Korean. The writing on the page is just so beautiful, and I just flip through the book and marvel that this is what my words look like in another language. I have the same experience when I hear my songs translated.

(Continued Below)


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#676968 - 12/24/08 04:16 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
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Joined: Apr 2001
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A Conversation With Dean Pitchford and Brian Austin Whitney (Continued From Above)

BRIAN: You got the idea for “Footloose” from a true story in Oklahoma. Do you owe anything to the people who you get the ideas, storylines, phrases or experiences that they share with you which you may put up on the big screen?

DEAN: No. It was a story in the press, so the idea was out there and wasn’t like I sat next to someone on a plane and they told me a story and I took and it and I made that story. It was in the newspapers all over the country about this town having its first dance. And that was really the jumping off point for me. Ultimately I had to make it much much much more personal. It’s not just about a town where you can’t dance…

BRIAN: It was really a story about a father who had lost his son…

DEAN: Yes, it was a story about a father who had lost his son and a son who has lost his father. And it’s about the two of them clashing. And when I went to Elmore City, Oklahoma which is where the news story had happened, I talked to a lot of people and I met a bunch of high school kids and I heard about their lives. Then I had the idea of a boy from Chicago who is thrust into this kind of small town, and everything else from that point on was my invention.

BRIAN: If you’re working on a screenplay and you hear an interesting story you want to incorporate into your work, where is the line on what you can or can’t include?

DEAN: Well, is that story THE story of your screenplay? If it’s not, then it’s okay. Like, if someone says ‘the damnedest thing happened to me in Amarillo’ and they tell you a story and it becomes a fleeting moment in the film, you don’t owe anybody for that.

BRIAN: I once heard a songwriting instructor suggest that you should take your favorite line of your song out and if it didn’t still stand up well without that line, the song wasn’t good enough in the first place. Do you agree?

DEAN: I wouldn’t be that drastic. I would never have thrown out ‘I’m gonna live forever’ but I do think that if at the end of the day all you’ve got is one brilliant line then you’ve got to rethink your song. Or your movie.

BRIAN: I think they meant that, if it isn’t part of the through line, then it should be the first thing to go.

DEAN: Right. If you read any of my lyrics off the page, they read like a short story. You can speak them and they will make sense. They will tell a story and they will get you to the chorus. ‘Baby, look at me/ And tell me what you see/ You ain’t seen the best of me yet/ Give me time I’ll make you forget the rest/ I’ve got more in me/ And you can set it free/ I can catch the moon in my hand/ Don’t you KNOW who I AM? Remember my name/ FAME.’ You know it tracks and tells a story. At no point do I stop pointing toward “Fame.” At no point do I stop telling the story about ‘look at me, tell me what you see.’ If any one of those lines stopped telling that story then that line would have to be jettisoned.

(I share a personal story connected to the song Fame)

BRIAN: I read a quote from you in John Braheny’s (a JPF Mentor) book “The Craft and Business of Songwriting” concerning a Songwriting 101 type question of poetry versus lyrics, and I liked your answer which was, ‘You need to leave room for the music.’

DEAN: I’m glad you asked me that because I have a little mental post-it note from earlier when you asked me about my mentors and I only acknowledged two of them. My third is Tom Snow, whom I met when I got to California. And he was having hits with Leo Sayer, Olivia Newton John, he’d just written ‘He’s So Shy’ for the Pointer Sisters. Tom was ‘the’ guy. We were introduced and began working together and hit it off immediately. But he was the strictest disciplinarian when it came to what goes into a pop song. And he always wrote grooves -- you know that wonderful groove at the top of ‘He’s So Shy’ (he hums the start of ‘He’s So Shy’), or listen to what he did at the start of ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy.’

BRIAN: Well, that was the heyday of synthesizers and sequencers.

DEAN: But… but… in the music that Tom Snow wrote there was a very strong pulse. And before I came to L.A., a lot of my writing had been for artists like Peter Allen and the film of “Fame.” My lyric writing could be very dense. Tom said to me ‘Don’t write so much!’ He gave me melodies with lines to which I could only fit 5 words or 5 syllables. Then I’d have to get out of the way, because the rhythm was taking over.

It was very illuminating because, like you said, I had to make room for the music. I had to make room for us to be collaborators. I’ve often said that, when I first started writing songs the lyrics would go from the left margin to the right margin and from the top of the page to the bottom. It looked thick.

BRIAN: Like the Encyclopedia Britannica.

DEAN: Yeah. And now when I do songwriting seminars I’ll hold up a copy of a song I wrote with Michael Gore for Whitney Houston (a worldwide #1 song) called ‘All The Man That I Need.’ And the lyric for ‘All The Man That I Need” fits on a piece of typing paper folded in half. It’s that economical. And I had not written like that until I met Tom, and Tom taught me to get out of the way of the music.

BRIAN: You know I learned a lot from Tom Snow, and I probably ripped off a lot of his ideas, (laughing) because that was a time when I was developing my songwriting and production, and I sort of played that role in my songwriting partnership and I have fond memories of trying my best to rip off his techniques.

DEAN: Tom is a master. There’d always been this mentorship kind of relationship with him, and then, when we went to work on the Broadway production of “Footloose,” things turned around, I was bringing him CD’s and albums and saying. “This is the kind of contrapuntal, 6-part singing that I see for this number.’ I would play him Broadway show tunes and the kinds of forms that you would not find in pop music.

BRIAN: Tell me more about the “Footloose” Broadway production?

DEAN: It ended up being a very nice-sized hit. We ran for 707 performances - almost two years - which is a shitload of performances. Then, after the show closed on Broadway foreign producers started picking up on it. Right now, I think there are 6 productions internationally: there’s a tour in the UK, there’s a tour in Scandinavia, there’s a show in Portugal, there’s a show in Warsaw, Poland, We’re going to start a tour in Southeast Asia that’s beginning in South Africa. We’re going into South Korea in 2009. In the United States last year we had over 450 productions of the show. And we have a new, 10th anniversary national tour that’s beginning at the end of December in New Haven and working it’s way across the country.

BRIAN: Is ‘Fame’ your biggest hit or is ‘Footloose?’

DEAN: Uhhhh.. in terms of return… ‘Fame’ didn’t go to #1, but what really helped ‘Fame’ was that after the movie had come out, there was that television series. The TV series ran for 4 years, and every year that they were on, the Kids From Fame toured Europe during their hiatus. And every year, they made a new album of songs from that season, and the song ‘Fame’ was always on that album. And now the motion picture of ‘Fame’ is being remade at MGM and they’re licensing the song for that.

BRIAN: Are they using the other songs too?

DEAN: The only one that I am aware of that they are licensing from the original movie is the title song.

BRIAN: Any talk of remaking ‘Footloose?’

DEAN: There has been. It keeps bubbling up. You know ‘High School Musical,’ that phenomenon has caused a lot of people to rethink everything ‘high school.’ And musical.

BRIAN: With Footloose they’d have obligations to you wouldn’t they?

DEAN: No.

BRIAN: Since it was your screenplay, they wouldn’t have any obligations to you if they use your story?

DEAN: They have financial obligations. Those are all spelled out in the contracts.

BRIAN: But they have no control obligations at all?

DEAN: No.

BRIAN: Is that because you’re not in a position to demand that or that it’s just impossible to get that?

DEAN: It’s impossible to get that. If you look at the end crawl on a motion picture, the very last frame that comes up -- if you can freeze frame it and look at it -- is says. “For the purposes of copyright Paramount Pictures or Sony Pictures or whomever is the author of this screenplay. Unlike my novels to which I own the copyrights, anybody who writes work-for-hire for a motion picture company doesn’t own the underlying rights. They get credited, they get royalties, they get paid their fees, they get DVD’s royalties and royalties for broadcast on television, etc. They get all those things, but, for the purposes of copyright the studio is the author of the screenplay. If, on the other hand, I wrote Harry Potter, and a studio buys my book of Harry Potter and then I would have more control, because the underlying property doesn’t not belong to them…

BRIAN: Because it’s an adapted screenplay….

DEAN: Exactly. The screenplay could be copyrighted by the studio, but the underlying story could not. In the case of ‘Footloose,’ they acquired underlying rights when they bought my screenplay, because there was no previously existing story.

BRIAN: So if you’d written ‘Footloose,’ the novel, then you might still have a piece of it?

DEAN: Exactly.

BRIAN: You had one project that you weren’t very happy with and that was the movie ‘Sing.’ Since we’ve talked about your triumphs, tell me about this one case where things didn’t go as well.

DEAN: It’s basically ‘High School Musical.’ The high schools in Brooklyn since the late 40’s have had an ongoing tradition where the Sophomore, Junior and Senior classes write and build and stage their own musicals, and then they compete. Then the winners from each school to go an inter-borough competition, and perform their shows, hoping to win the championship of Brooklyn. And over the years many many many big stars have worked on Sings. Art Garfunkle and Paul Simon and Barbra Streisand and Neil Simon and so many talented artists who went to school in Brooklyn did Sing in high school. So it’s a very emotional tradition with them.

I was approach about doing a movie about the Sing competition. I wrote any number of drafts and went through any number of studio ups and downs. I wished that I were smarter about these things than I was, but it was only my second movie. What I found over the years is that a lot of people -- especially studio heads, especially at that time -- they had the idea that, ‘Oh, those teenagers will buy anything. Make it loud, make it flashy, and they’ll go to it.’

When Alan Parker made ‘Fame,’ the studio didn’t interfere with him. He shot it in New York, away from their prying eyes, and he turned out a very intricate, beautifully shot, quite dark piece. And what made it such a spectacular success was that it didn’t trivialize the experience of being a teenager.

Neither did ‘Footloose.’ I worked with Herbert Ross who by that time was in his 60’s had directed or co-directed ‘Funny Girl’ and ‘Funny Lady’ and so many Neil Simon movies. And Herbert came to that material with a great deal of seriousness and a great affection for the characters.

BRIAN: That’s true, John Lithgow could have easily have been a caricature and he never was.

DEAN: No. That was the big saving grace. John Lithgow brought to this part a great deal of humanity.

But when we did ‘Sing,’ there was this attitude prevalent that all you need to do is give the kids a beat and they’ll line up. That was sort of the studio mentality that drove ‘Sing’ off the rails. It was cast wrong, it was directed wrong, I wrote it wrong, I just kept getting broader and broader to accommodate what I was hearing everybody asking for and it ended up being a kind of a caricature of a teen movie.

BRIAN: That leads me to my underlying questions. You’re a guy who had already had ridiculous success, and yet you didn’t trust your own instincts. You let them run roughshod over you. Why?

DEAN: It wasn’t until the fiasco of ‘Sing’ that the lessons of ‘Footloose’ actually coalesced in my mind. Until then, I didn’t know what I knew. I did not know what to stand firm on, or what voices in my head to trust. When all was said and done, and I saw the result up on the screen. I went ‘Ooohhhhh… I wished that I had looked at my mental notebook earlier and reminded myself of what I learned.’

Now, when I was writing songs I had that experience all the time. I‘d write a song and get it cut, and I’d go ‘YAY, we got a song cut!!!’ Then I’d write 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 more songs and the A&R folks would say, ‘It’s too this, it’s too that, it’s not for her, it’s the wrong beat, you’re using these uptown chords, you’re using this esoteric language, it’s too grown up, it’s too juvenile.’ So I was getting feedback all the time from A&R people. The problem is that the feedback I got from ‘Sing’ came too late. It took a year out of my life, and when I finally got that feedback, I went ‘Oooh…. I won’t go THERE again… or THERE again or THERE again.’

BRIAN: At the same time you were experiencing the lows of ‘Sing,’ you also had the worldwide #1 song with Whitney Houston. Tell me about that. You could have a huge ego, but you must also have the ability to turn it on and off. How have you avoided falling into that trap?

DEAN: I had that experience where I starred on Broadway and I had been out there in a very public way. My ego was fed, certainly. But when I began writing songs and then screenplay and now books, I never again felt like the person who had made it all happen. I saw myself as part of a collaborative team. I’ve often compared songwriting collaborations to a marriage. There are times where you get to come in and strut around and go, ‘Guess who got a raise today.’ And there are other times where you don’t get to strut. You have to step back and let somebody else crow. A director friend of mine said, ‘There are times when you just have to go limp.’

BRIAN: Go limp?

DEAN: ‘Go limp!’ He said when you’re dealing with someone for whom it’s so important that their ego fill the room, just go limp. So I do. I just think, ‘Okay, whatever. Today, it’s all about you.’ I save my ego for the collaboration, where I stick up for the work. That’s where I will put my ego in. But if it’s very important for somebody else to be king of the hill on that day in that collaboration, they can have that. I don’t have to have myself validated in this room, with you, at this moment.

BRIAN: But you have to sit back every once in a while and think to yourself, ‘Man, I’m pretty awesome!’ You have to! (laughs)

DEAN: (laughs) I do sit back and say ‘Gosh, I’ve had an interesting time.’ But also -- in every field of endeavor that I have been in -- I know people who are AWESOME.

BRIAN: That’s true. I can see that.

DEAN: I am having lunch on Friday, for instance, with Cynthia Weil.

BRIAN: Oh, wow.

DEAN: Now, Cynthia Weil is AWESOME.

BRIAN: Yep.

DEAN: You know one of my dearest friends from my Broadway days is Stephen Schwartz. Stephen Schwartz wrote ‘Godspell’ and ‘Pippin’ and ‘Wicked.’ Stephen Schwartz is AWESOME.

BRIAN: Right.

DEAN: I have been in and out of many careers and have had many experiences, and the only thing I use my history of accomplishments for is to remind myself of what I can do. If I get to a point in writing anything -- a book or a lyric or a screenplay -- I will sometimes go into my lyric file or I’ll pull up an old script and I’ll read a something that I particularly like. And I’ll say to myself, ‘There… you did it once… do it again!’

I used to have gold and platinum records and I hanged them along the walls of my office, across every piece of available space. And I filled up the room with all these gold and platinum records, and one day I walked in and I looked at these things that I’d been looking at forever, and I thought, ‘Well, what’s the point of this?’ So I took them all down and wrapped them in newspaper and I put them in the basement. And over the last 25 years I’ve donated them for auctions or given them to charities. I just gave away that collection because it no longer spoke to me.

BRIAN: I bet in some way those other people will appreciate those even more than you would have.

DEAN: I hope so. I hope so. But as somebody once said not too long ago, they walked through my house and they said, ‘You know if I didn’t know better, I’d never know what the person living in this house did,’ and I said ‘GREAT! Just the way I want it!’

BRIAN: By any chance do you know Harold Payne?

DEAN: Oh.. I love Harold Payne.

(We share some Platinum Record winning songwriter Harold Payne Stories between us)

(Then we share some 3 time Grammy Winner Daniel Ho Stories)

(Then we shared some BoyMeetsGirl stories (they wrote ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and ‘How Will I Know.’)

BRIAN: I am certainly not in the same circles as you, Dean, but I am really pleased that we know some of the same people.

DEAN: Well it’s amazing what you have built Brian. It’s so nice about what I read on the message boards, because you know I lurk. There’s not a lot that I have to say or ask questions about, but I try to visit and see what people are saying about things, and there’s a real sweetness to this site. People are generally so supportive of each other, and there’s a nice feeling of community.

BRIAN: It’s a rare thing on the internet because most things on the net are nasty and horrible. It’s a lot of work to keep if that way and I am very blessed to be doing this.

(We discuss more about JPF and the work we’re doing)

DEAN: A lot of what I did in the past allowed me to do the work and then stay at home and eat popcorn and watch football. Now with my book I’ve been having to do signings. I went to bookstores in Hawaii and Nashville and the Bay Area and Las Vegas, Santa Barbra and New York City. And in those places, I’m actually meeting the people who are the audience for my writing. I’ve been speaking at schools universities and I just got a request today to speak at Belmont University.

BRIAN: Ah, Belmont is fantastic.

(We discuss some people we both know at Belmont University, and we discuss some political work that we’re doing in Washington DC)

DEAN: I’ve always felt that Nashville is more like the music community that I associate with more so than that the California scene or the New York scene. Those scenes aren’t really even scenes anymore. People go off into their studios and go off the work in Scandinavia or Telluride or Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and cut records. I don’t find that feeling of songwriters clustered in buildings and people eating at the same restaurants and all coming together around an industry. It’s not like that anymore in other places.

BRIAN: Even in Nashville it’s not like that as much as it used to be say even 10 years ago. The industry has been decimated in Nashville. It seems like when someone closes something, they don’t close the New York or Los Angeles branch, they close Nashville.

DEAN: I know, I know. It’s sad, but let’s look at the bright side.

BRIAN: Are you ever going to do an update to your travel book on ‘Hawaii on $5 and $10 A Day?’

DEAN: (Laughs) You know now that books has gone to to either $150 a day or $100 a day. It was not my book to begin with. It had been written by two writers in New York, a married couple. And their contract with the publisher called for them to update it every two years, but they had had a baby and had not updated their book in 4 years. That’s when I got a call from a mutual friend in Honolulu.

I was in college at Yale but I was going to go home for the summer and then return to New Haven in the fall. So I got hired, and I spent the summer driving every road, visiting every mid-range and low-range hotel and restaurant and tourist attraction. And anything you could do for free. Every aquarium and museum you could walk into. I had lived there all my life and I’d never done those things, because I was a local.

BRIAN: That’s how it always is.

DEAN: Yeah, so my last summer in Honolulu, I totally submerged myself in the Islands. I went to Kauai and Maui and the big island of Hawaii and of course I covered Oahu where I lived. I had to keep churning out 20 pages every two days in order to stay ahead of my notes, because I was collecting so much material.

BRIAN: That’s a good lesson to learn…

DEAN: Yeah it was…

BRIAN: So you basically ghost-wrote their entire book?

DEAN: I actually ghost-re-wrote the ‘$5 & $10’ book, and halfway through the summer, the authors got a contract from their publisher for a second book. This was from Arthur Frommer Publishers…

BRIAN: Oh yeah.. Frommer’s gigantic!

DEAN: They were the pioneers of the ‘Europe on $ 5 and $10 A Day’, ‘Hawaii on $5 and $10 A Day;’ that was Frommer. TWA at the time went to Frommer and said, ‘We want a guidebook, more of a middle class guide.’ And the Frommer publishers went to their people who did the ‘Hawaii on $5 A Day’ and said, ‘Can you handle it” and they said, ‘Absolutely!’, then they turned around and sub-contracted it to me. So it fell to me to write that book.

The first book wasn’t so hard, because I already had a lot of that info from the existing book. But the TWA book, I wrote that from the ground up. That’s why I had 20 pages to send off every other day.

BRIAN: Well, you were really a pioneer then, because that was at the starting edge of what has now become a giant industry of travel writing.

DEAN: Yeah… yeah…

BRIAN: You’re a pioneer on something you probably don’t even think about.

DEAN: I don’t even think about it. At the end of that summer I did not want to stay at another hotel room with a little coffee maker on the desk and Magic Fngers on the bed. I’d had my fill of that. I knew that I didn’t want to be a travel writer.

BRIAN: Have you ever tried to write the entire song, music and lyrics?

DEAN: Actually I recently did. I was asked by a charity, an annual breast cancer charity, the producers of which I’ve known for a while. They called me and said, ‘We feel it’s about time we had our own theme song.’ And the colloborator I asked to work with me suddenly had a family emergency, so I began to experiment with musical ideas to support my lyric. And the next thing you know, I’d finished the song. It’s called ‘One Heart,’ and, for two years now, has served as the finale for this breast cancer fund raiser.

BRIAN: And that’s the first complete song that you’ve written after all these years?

DEAN: That’s has been performed, yes. I’ve also done gag songs for birthdays, that’s it.

BRIAN: That’s surprising.

DEAN: I’ve been lucky to have had amazing collaborators. Some people, like Michael Gore would say, ‘Don’t say anything, don’t sing anything,’ Peter Allen would ask, ‘You got a melody?’ So I would work with all sorts of colloborators and try to take the temperature of the room. Do you want to hear what I am thinking? Do you want me to clap the rhythm, or do you want me to shut up? And sometimes they’d say ‘Shut up shut up, shut up,’ and other times they’d say, ‘No, please, help me get me started.’

BRIAN: Here’s a question we ask everyone we interview. When was the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?

DEAN: Well, ‘Fame’ was my second recorded song, so it would have to be the first I heard on radio. I don’t remember when I first heard it on the radio, though. I’ll have to think about that,.

BRIAN: You may not remember because you’d already had some major successes, so it might not have stuck out as much for you as it might have for some other folks.

DEAN: You know what? There’s something else about that, too. John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote a song in their musical ‘Flora the Red Menace’ that Liza Minelli introduced in act one where she gets a job that she really really wants to get. And instead of singing some big, brash, bright song, she sings a song called ‘A Quiet Thing.’ And in that lyric she sings ‘When it all comes true/ Just the way you planned/ You’d think you’d hear a choir sing/ No…it’s a quiet thing.’

BRIAN: Interesting!

DEAN: And it’s always made an impact on me. Sure, if you do something in front of an audience and it gets applause, that’s noisy. But when I had that moment when I read an e-mail telling me that my first book had been bought, or hearing a song on the radio for the first time, I didn’t run out in the streets and yell, ‘Turn your radios on, turn your radios on!’ I have a feeling it was a quiet thing.

BRIAN: What a great line for you to pull out to answer that question! That’s one of the best answers ever to that question. Can you think of a mistake you made that in hindsight you might be able to help others avoid?

DEAN: Uhm.. like George Bush I don’t feel I’ve made any… (both of us laugh) …okay I’m not going to say that, I’m not going to say that! I think I made a lot of mistakes, I made some real boners. What I would say is that I didn’t let any one of them destroy me or keep me down for very long.

BRIAN: So even the catastrophic mistakes you thought were terrible didn’t really turn out to be so catastrophic.

DEAN: Right.

BRIAN: You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the world in your fields. Are you ever still star struck?

DEAN: There’s a term in magic to describe the pause between taking physical action and that point when something happens that the mind can’t wrap itself around. There’s this LEAP that causes people to go ‘oohhhhh!’ Right? Magicians call that the ‘wonder gap.’ It’s that space between ‘I don’t know how you do what you do, oh my God! what you did is just astonishing!’ And when I began in the business, a lot of my encounters were characterized by the ‘wonder gap’ moment where’d I’d meet someone who was a wonderful singer or fabulous producer or terrific writer or awesome songwriter, and I was finding myself doing that ‘Oh my gosh I don’t know how you do what you do, it’s incomprehensible to me, my mind can only comprehend up to a point and then there’s this Grand Canyon of experience between you and me,’ and I just sort of fall down in awe of that.

Now, I am not saying I have reduced the space between me and them, but what I’ve discovered is that the creative journey is very similar. When I meet people who do something I admire, I’m fascinated by their journey, but I no longer hold back and go, ‘Oh, I am not worthy to talk to you.’ I see them in the way I hope that people see me, which is a human being who just applied him or herself really hard and sought to learn certain truths. And then I want to ask questions. But I don’t have that thing… where my tongue won’t work and I can’t make sense. I am curious to hear how people have done those things that I have admired because I know what my journey has been like.

BRIAN: That’s how I felt about talking with you in that I couldn’t wait to ask you questions about all these things you do. There are a couple musicians I still hold off on meeting, however because I’d hate to finally meet them and then sound really stupid when I spoke to them…

DEAN: Or you’d hate to find out that they’re really pricks! (laughs)

BRIAN: (laughs) Yeah, I’ve actually had that happen a few times, but most of the time they’re very nice. The concept of Just Plain Folks is how no matter whether we’re famous stars in our field or someone just getting started, we’re all more alike than different with the same goals and aspirations and hopes. In the end ‘We’re All In This Together.’ Your response seems to illustrate that.

(I share a story about our first JPF event that mixed famous artists and writers where something that happened demonstrated that point).

DEAN: I just read a story on the website about that artist who was a busker who went to the concert by the artists from ‘Once.’

BRIAN: Yeah, that was Stephen Bacon. Isn’t that a great story?

DEAN: It’s amazing! I wrote him a post and told him congratulations about the songwriting, but your prose is pretty fantastic, too. Don’t ignore it!

(I give him some more background on Stephen Bacon. You can read the entire story at this link: http://www.jpfolks.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/656431 )

BRIAN: I’ve spent some time keeping him pumped up and telling him that, ‘You’re never going to be hotter than when you’re hot!’

DEAN: (laughs) I am going to write that down. I was very fortunate that I came to my songwriting career after spending 6 or 7 years cutting my teeth and paying my dues as a performer because I didn’t have that feeling like, ‘Oh my gosh I am so super-talented! Here I am 19 years old and no one can make an album without my contribution!’ Instead I knew how hard it was. I had friends who were out of work. I knew how hard I had to work for my first career and how hard I had to work for my second career, and when I see people who are just starting out, one nice thing works out for them and they buy a condo and two years later have to sell it, it always saddens me. Instead of doing the next job and the next job and the next job, they decided to stop and cash their checks.

BRIAN: You’ve been a good example of someone who just keeps relentlessly moving forward.

DEAN: I just never believed I’d get another job!

BRIAN: That’ll help then!

DEAN: Fear is a motivator!

BRIAN: Do you still feel that way? I have to think that your success has removed that and your number one concern is no longer about cashing a check?

DEAN: That’s not my number one concern.

BRIAN: That can actually work against you. Some people who don’t have to work might not be as hungry as they once were?

DEAN: The kind of money that one makes writing young adult books is a fraction of having a song on the radio. When I hired my agent, she said, ‘You know you’re not going to make the kind of money you made as a songwriter!’ And when I signed with a publisher he said, ‘This is not the kind of money you’re used to.’ But you know what? I just want to have fun now. This sounds like the next chapter, excuse the pun, and I think that I want to have this adventure now. To have written this book, to have sold it, to have it bought as an audiobook, to get the job of reading it as an audio book, then to have it do so well in sales and THEN to get a GRAMMY nomination for it! I mean, I am having a ball!

BRIAN: Well that sets up my last question. Tell me about ‘The Big One-Oh,’ and tell me about your upcoming ‘Captain Nobody’?

DEAN: The Big One-Oh is a young adult book which started as a screenplay idea that I then turned into a novel which Putnam/Penguin bought. It’s about a nine-year old boy about to turn ten who, through a series of circumstances, decides to throw himself his own 10th birthday party which is themed as a house-of-horrors birthday party and ends up a catastrophe that eventually brings out the entire Fresno police department and fire department and emergency services. It’s the most horrible birthday… and at the same time, it’s the best birthday a kid could ever hope for. So it’s ‘Home Alone’ meets birthday.

BRIAN: And where did this story idea come from?

DEAN: A number of ideas got pickled together. When I was 6, my older brother, who was in first-grade, had a birthday party. We convinced my mother to take all of the partygoers to a movie theater near our house that was playing a horror movie which she did not know about. It was called ‘The Giant Claw.’ (I laugh) We thought it was going to be so cool. It was about a humongous eagle that swoops down over cities and kills people, grabs them and crushes convertibles full of rowdy teenagers until it’s shot down by the United States Air Force at the end. My mom -- not knowing anything because in those days you didn’t have IMDB and you couldn’t go and check what’s the content of the movie -- she took our word for it, and we all went off to see the movie, maybe 14 of my brother’s classmates. The girls were kind of, ‘Ew, gross!’ and the boys thought it was really nifty. Well, nothing really happened until the day after the birthday party, and then the phone calls began to come in. All these mothers were calling my mom to say, ‘What movie did you take my child to see?’ because apparently all these kids were waking up in the middle of the night screaming and pointing at the sky...

BRIAN: THE CLAAAAWWWWW!!!!!

DEAN: So my mother is like, ‘SEE WHAT YOU’VE DONE!!!’ But secretly my brother and I thought it was pretty amazing. So the idea of a birthday party that was terrifying and yet memorable was the genesis of this book. It’s doing extremely well domestically; it’s been nominated for ‘Book Of The Year’ in 4 States, and now the Grammy nomination. It’s been sold to sub-publishers all over the world.

And ‘Captain Nobody’ is sort of in the same gene pool. It’s targeted for ages 9-14, and it’s the story of a ten-year-old boy who has grown up in the shadow of his 18-year-old brother who is a SUPER sports hero. At the beginning of the book, in making the winning touchdown of his final game of his senior year in the climactic biggest game of his career, this little boy’s big brother is knocked into a coma. He goes into the hospital and the entire state holds its breath. And during this time, the younger brother assumes this identity --Captain Nobody--and without even meaning to, he starts saving lives and solving crimes. Then HE becomes the hero.

BRIAN: Is it already finished?

DEAN: It is. I am actually sitting here looking at the galleys. They’re going out to reviewers and librarians and wholesalers. And it’s coming out the summer of 2009. We just also sold the audio rights to Random House, the same people who did the audiobook for ‘The Big One-Oh,’ so probably in late January I’ll go into the studio to record it.

BRIAN: I figured it was you on the recording, but you have a very young sounding voice.

DEAN: By the end of that book I devised probably 18 voices to do all the characters and different classmates.

(We then discuss Jim Dale’s epic Grammy winning work on the Harry Potter books where he had to keep 275 different character voices straight and Tom Chapin’s many Grammy wins in the same category as well.)

BRIAN: Well thank you for this epic length interview. It was fascinating. I doubt I can do any justice to all the things we discussed without just posting all of it.

DEAN: Well I left out all the salacious parts…

BRIAN: Well I want to hear about those too in the next interview. I only got through about 1/3 of my questions for you. If you win the Grammy, we’ll have to work next on getting you a Tony Award so you have the complete set!

DEAN: I like the way you think!
---------------------------------------
Thanks to Dean for his patience and generosity! It was a blast!
-Brian Austin Whitney, December 24th, 2008


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#676973 - 12/24/08 05:01 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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Johnny Daubert  Offline
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Will read more tomorrow, but wow! I think we are reading about one of most talented, hard working, and creative minds the entertainment business has seen. I thought Ed McMahan was a go getter. But, with all the areas Dean has pursued, (forgetting the actual achievements of them), is amazing to think about it all. "Then" add in the achievements at high levels, and the phrase, "The cream rises to the top", really must be true.

I am extremely humbled as never before. I thought besides the fun I aimed for, I thought I worked hard enough, and did things that should have gotten my music to be something my wife Cindy could quit work for. If Dean's ways of doing things is any indicator, even if half so, then that would explain a lot.

Dean, you are a perfect example of a genius, or an extremely motivated hard worker, or both. I am betting on both, for the hard, steady work ethics has been documented.

Thank you for taking the time to give in detail your adventures. Thanks also to Brian, for your time and great questions.

Looking forward to reading more.

Hats off to your many hats,
John


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
Songnado I and II:
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=322686





#676992 - 12/24/08 10:04 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


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John,

It's definitely a lot to read, but the sheer breadth of what he's done is worth reading about. Even after researching and chatting with him I still can't quite believe it. So many people over plan and over prepare for things and they don't just throw them into opportunities when they present themselves. And even more common is when people have a success of some type they often sit back to take it all in and their momentum shuts down. It seems Dean never stops. And you know how much I preach persistence to everyone. He's persistence incarnate. = )

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#677016 - 12/24/08 12:20 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Kevin Edward Rose Offline
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Kevin Edward Rose  Offline
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Richmond, IN U.S.A.
Brian,

That post was so long, I almost decided to wait for the movie version, but I'm glad I didn't.

Hmm...if there is a movie version, maybe you and Dean could collaborate.


Kevin Edward Rose
Celtic, Americana, whatever the folk.
Hailed by Performing Songwriter magazine as a "valued subscriber".
More music sold than Elvis and the Beatles combined!*
http://www.KevinEdwardRose.com
http://www.youtube.com/KevinEdwardRose
#677017 - 12/24/08 12:23 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Kevin Edward Rose]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


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Yeah, it's epic. And Dean went through and cut about 1/3rd of it out. I transcribed it all word for word and it was 36 pages long. He trimmed it back to 24 pages so it wouldn't take you all 3 hours to read like it took us 3 hours to say it all. = )

We'll save that extra 12 pages for the DVD version as an extra bonus feature! hahahaha.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#677026 - 12/24/08 01:39 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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Johnny Daubert  Offline
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Brian, yes persistence is all over Dean, but he goes beyond that even! He had and has a huge thirst for challenges, learning, adapting, and action, which he then used persistence in all!

Dean has put up a very high bar to work towards, (in any one category). Very daunting and eye opening, yet inspirational, as it does show one can do things others may say are impossible, or say "you're a dreamer". I don't think he stayed still long enough to dream day after day though. His living moments were probably mini dreams put to action.

John


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
Songnado I and II:
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=322686





#677128 - 12/25/08 01:24 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Lynman Bacolor Offline
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Brian

This is cool.
Thanks

Lynman

#677146 - 12/25/08 07:12 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Lynman Bacolor]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


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Did you get through all of it that fast Lynman?

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#677150 - 12/25/08 08:19 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Lynman Bacolor Offline
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Brian

Im enjoying now its my second time reading it while judging. LOL

Merry Christmas

Lynman

#677151 - 12/25/08 08:47 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Mike Caro Substudio Offline
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Excellent!!!

Nice work on this Brian. Great job!

DEAN: I have been in and out of many careers and have had many experiences, and the only thing I use my history of accomplishments for is to remind myself of what I can do. If I get to a point in writing anything -- a book or a lyric or a screenplay -- I will sometimes go into my lyric file or I’ll pull up an old script and I’ll read a something that I particularly like. And I’ll say to myself, ‘There… you did it once… do it again!’

Yes! I often do this exact thing even with a tiny bit of accomplishment for this exact reason. And with his track record going back could take a very long time smile But just grabbing something older and saying hey I can do this again... Huge! for your confidence & drive as those two things are ALWAYS challenged in this business and in life.


DEAN: Well it’s amazing what you have built Brian. It’s so nice about what I read on the message boards, because you know I lurk. There’s not a lot that I have to say or ask questions about, but I try to visit and see what people are saying about things, and there’s a real sweetness to this site. People are generally so supportive of each other, and there’s a nice feeling of community.


It is amazing! And a great site with unreal support.
Also see!! This is what i was talking about on a thread one day.
It's okay to to dislike somethings and let some steam off but for those few songwriters who CONSTANTLY bash everything and everyone, not only is it counter productive, negative but YOU never know who's reading it.

Okay not that someone is gonna just come on board and say "hey I wanna work with you but" However there is Karma and also professional attitude... reputation! If YOU are serious about this business as a career your networking and communication skills are important.

Did you see all the different people Dean knows and mentions too Brian
all throughout this? Just popping up all over the place. It's a SMALL big circle!
You have too Market yourself!
Did you pick up on his great sense sense of attitude, you can smell success!
This is a winner talking!

In everyday practice people will pick up on this attitude and if yours is a big downer you'll have a hard time finding collaborators at all, never mind GREAT ones.

I'd hate to ever even consider the thought that a Dean Pitchford or Jason Blume or anyone who ever lurks these boards ever saw my thread/work and thought "Jerk" or even worse "Amateur"

Anyway It's food for thought, and something I have considered LONG before I read this:)
Thanks for sharing & doing this Brian & Dean.
Dean's work & career is incredible and much
respected & enjoyed by many including myself.



Thanks!
Peace Mike
Sub

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#677242 - 12/26/08 02:06 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Mike Caro Substudio]  
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charliehamilton Offline
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south africa
Thanks very much for such an incredible read
it was a bit like being hit with a baseball bat
but much needed
what a guy

#677244 - 12/26/08 02:48 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: charliehamilton]  
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Hey Charlie,

What was like a baseball bat? Just the fact that one person can do so much or was it something else?

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#677281 - 12/26/08 07:55 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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well, to be honest, to believe that one might have a capability to do great work, and then on a consistent basis, never quite get there,and deliver at that level is maddening.
and then to read about this guy, who basically really did just believe in himself for starters, and then coupled that with hard hard work.
for me, that is a big fat clip around the earhole, to shut up with the self doubt, and knuckle down.
So, yeah, he's a lucky guy, and really great that he can be so humble and respecting of great collaborative partners.
i think to be so low down on this ladder, the collaborators don't always share some same ambitions, which leaves one with this tussle.You know, just forget about collaborators and try go it alone, or keep trying to to coax blood from this stone (lol)
i guess either way results equal effort. but thanks very very much for posting such a brilliant piece. anymore like that, please point me towards them.this site is so big, you can get a little lost searching.and thanks for asking !
charlie

#677285 - 12/26/08 08:19 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: charliehamilton]  
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Hi Brian & Dean

Wow, that's so cool, Dean has done really well for himself, great story.

One comment really stood out for me that Dean said, "Fear is a Motivator" thats where a lot of my lyric's have come from, Fear, as I lived in fear for a long time, but today, the fear is subsiding, and thats because I've achieved two great songs, and many more to come, I love it, and I've grown so much within myself that I will keep moving forward. JPF, has only been nothing but encouraging for me, and very helpful. whistle

So Thanks for sharing Brian & Dean, this Aussie girl will not be giving up! I'm hooked! grin

Michele


Last edited by Michele Bolton; 12/26/08 08:27 AM.
#677357 - 12/26/08 06:01 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Michele Howlett]  
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Glad you enjoyed it Michele!

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#677588 - 12/28/08 05:30 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Charlie,

Rather than get discouraged, you should be pumped up. Dean just went out and did stuff. He hasn't been successful 100% of the time, but as we've preached for a long time around here, if you are RELENTLESSLY PERSISTENT, you'd be amazed at what you can accomplish. Most people quit long before they find success. They sit around and think about it rather than just doing it. I have that same problem with many things. I am so worried about making sure I am 100% ready to do something, I never get around to doing it because you can never be 100% ready for anything. So just go for what you want and let Dean's lesson be that if one man can do it, any man can do it! = )

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#677695 - 12/28/08 03:51 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Yes that is the thing,and thanks for that. I do believe that (if one man can do it.....),
And to be honest, i can't really quit anyways, coz this is my day job (lol).
I guess the most important thing for me to get used to is , not to rush.... to send out something too early, thats not right yet.
That just perpetuates mediocrity.And i just can't afford mediocrity anymore.Its too costly (lol)
Of course that brings with it the job of being writer, engineer , vocal and production.Sending something out too early, leads to despondency, coz people can't really fill in the dots (especially a+r guys)and my problem is, i can't humour the "learning curve"so i gotta get the picture right.
Also, now, to find collaborators that will rework and rewrite is gonna be paramount, coz if nothing else is taken from Mr Pitchford's lesson, it is the dogged sitting on a work till it is right.But another tricky thing is, it takes me a while to understand a lyric and know exactly what the lyrical aim of the song is, and because i'm busy trying to make the beats and melodies, that level of discernment has got to really be on its toes.
But thank you very very much, for mentoring. I really appreciate it.

#677750 - 12/28/08 08:43 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: charliehamilton]  
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Hi Brian,

I think I mentioned on another post how much I enjoyed reading the interview, I really did!! Thanks again to both of of you for sharing this.

Do you know off hand what hit songs Dean had written that Whitney and Barbra sang?

Thanks,
Lynn


My Music at Soundclick
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=788266

~call it a blessing or call it a curse, but I see all of life in verse~

Always open to collaborations smile

God Bless Our Military!!!
#677752 - 12/28/08 08:50 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Lynn Orloff]  
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Thought it would be nice for our fellow lyricists to see the "FAME" lyrics in print smile


Baby look at me
And tell me what you see
You ain't seen the best of me yet
Give me time I'll make you forget the rest

I got more in me
And you can set it free
I can catch the moon in my hand
Don't you know who I am

Remember my name
Fame

I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna learn how to fly
High

I feel it coming together
People will see me and cry
Fame

I'm gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame
Fame

I'm gonna live forever
Baby remember my name

Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember

Baby hold me tight
Cause you can make it right
You can shoot me straight to the top
Give me love and take all I've got to give

Baby I'll be tough
Too much is not enough
I can ride your heart til it breaks
Ooo I got what it takes

Fame
I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna learn how to fly
High

I feel it coming together
People will see me and cry
Fame

I'm gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame
Fame

I'm gonna live forever
Baby remember my name

Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember

Fame
I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna learn how to fly
High

I feel it coming together
People will see me and cry
Fame

I'm gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame
Fame

I'm gonna live forever
Baby remember my name

Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember

Remember my name

Fame
I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna learn how to fly
High

I feel it coming together
People will see me and cry
Fame

I'm gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame
Fame

I'm gonna live forever
Baby remember my name

Fame
I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna learn how to fly
High

I feel it coming together
People will see me and cry
Fame


Last edited by Lynn Orloff; 12/31/08 01:50 AM.
#677826 - 12/29/08 04:15 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Lynn Orloff]  
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You can see all of Dean's hits and recordings for that matter listed on his website. They're quite impressive. I think the Whitney song is mentioned above as well as a discussion about working with Barbra.

Brian


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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#678100 - 12/30/08 07:56 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Lynn Orloff]  
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Hey, Lynn - So sweet of you to take the time to post the "Fame" lyric. Look at all those "Remembers!" That repeated background part was the suggestion of one of our back-up singers on the session, a young singer/songwriter named Luther Vandross.

There are two slight corrections I would make to your post: Verse 1, part B, the word 'hand' is singular: "I can catch the moon in my hand." It makes for a smoother near-rhyme with 'am.'

And in Verse 2, part B, the line should read: "I can ride your heart til it breaks."

Again, thanks for your diligence and interest!

#678155 - 12/31/08 01:48 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: kahalaboy]  
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Hi Dean,

I had copied and pasted from a lyrical website so forgive me. I made those two changes as I know how important a lyric can be to it's author to keep things as they should be. Luther was intuitive enough to make that excellent suggestion and those "remembers" stick in a person's mind. I loved his voice and sadly he died too young. Alot of great artists get their start as back up or demo singers. Take care and may 2009 be a happy year filled with more great songwriting!! smile


My Music at Soundclick
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=788266

~call it a blessing or call it a curse, but I see all of life in verse~

Always open to collaborations smile

God Bless Our Military!!!
#678168 - 12/31/08 04:22 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Lynn Orloff]  
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Dean,

What a great factoid you failed to share with me before! I can only imagine all those amazingly little details that get missed by the broad strokes of even a 3 hour interview! = )

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#678254 - 12/31/08 02:58 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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"Tampa Stan" Good (D) Offline
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Thank You, Brian and Dean!

VERY Enjoyable Interview to read..& Dean's Website's a Jewel..(Just HADDA kick that Siren-Whistle Mnemonic-"Kicker" more'n a few times..what a Brilliant HOOT!)

Highlights Here included:

VERY Gutsy to Re-Cycle Bowie's "FAME" Hook into Irene Cara's HIT. This Proves a GOOD HOOK CAN be Re-Cycled, ad-infinitum, and WORK.
(Killer Lyrics & Melody sure HELP though..eh?) ;-)>

"Barbara needs the Screenplay in her mind"....(when hearing a song) Definitely Something I'LL keep in mind, now.

"I strive for universality in my songs, a shared sentiment." (Note Bene, New Writers...)

I'd never heard that Legal Terminology, "Indivisible Entity" about Words & Music before/Totally agree with Dean's leaning towards a "50-50" Split for Co-Writing.

"'Fame' has the same click as 'Hot Stuff'"...(Brilliant!)

"Japanese-Translation CDs...Korean-on-paper" Ah-So COOL~! (It pays to think of OTHER COUNTRIES for Markets for One's Work/It Happens.)

"..lyrics read..like a short story" (Something I TRY to Keep in Mind...but forget..time-to-time.)

"You need to leave room for the music"... (THAT's a VERY Important TIP. VERY!)

As was writing "lines with 5 words or syllables..to get out of the way of the music"...

I don't have any Movies in me that I know of..but WILL remember Dean's mention of "the very last frame that comes up..says 'for the purposes of Copyright Paramount Pictures (etc.) IS the author of this screenplay"...

I kinda enjoyed the Reality his enduring the "Flop" of "SING" while having a #1 HIT with Whitney. He never seems to Bask in His "Glory" too-much (BRAVO!) & that final Serious Bitta Wisdom, "There are times when you just have to go limp" (When dealing with Egos...& WHATEVER) WILL stick with me the rest of my Creative Life...& probably Beyond.

Two Things I Think I Gotta Pen a Lyric On:
"It's a Quiet Thing" (Even tho It's-Been-Done..heh!)
and
"Wonder Gap"

Dean, & Brian, gotta Thank You Two for Inspiration..and Sharing, Amigos! That's one Heck of a FINE Interview..& I look forwards to any "Updates" ya two come up with after "The Big One-0h" is a Major Hit.

Big Guys Hug,
Stan

#679254 - 01/05/09 04:30 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: ]  
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Thanks for checking it out Stan!

Brian


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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#679336 - 01/05/09 03:04 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Quote
...I had spent every day, 6 or 7 days a week, for 4 weeks, writing page after page of lyrics. I would distill them down sometimes to just 2 decent lines, or to something I thought might open a chorus.

That's the kind of focus/dedication that leads to greatness. Sort of along the lines of that "10,000 hours" book (Outliers).

Fantastic interview -- I'm only about a 1/3 finished so far.

Kevin


"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The 'hard' is what makes it great."
Kevin @ bandcamp: Crows Say Vee-Eh (and Kevin @ FAWM 2017)
#679639 - 01/06/09 05:43 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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So did you get through the rest of it Kevin? It's a fun read til the end I think.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#679642 - 01/06/09 05:58 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Kevin Emmrich Offline
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Brian: As soon as I posted that, I kept reading -- I had to finish it in one sitting. I thought it was a great interview.

Kevin


"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The 'hard' is what makes it great."
Kevin @ bandcamp: Crows Say Vee-Eh (and Kevin @ FAWM 2017)
#679974 - 01/08/09 01:08 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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That is fabulous. I spent an hour or so or whatever it took. Just, PRICELESS. That guy is a hoot and your interview is terrific. I am going to send you a donation tomorrow. If I don't, PM me. I am serious... been a long day... I want to send you a donation.


Thanks,
Bill
(New Sig: What do I know? Good luck, songwriter!)
#679979 - 01/08/09 01:13 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: DukeWill]  
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DukeWill Offline
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Hmmm... you need to speak to your web designer or my girlfriend, whom I will blame because she is supposed to be sober and is reading this page with me since I have had a little (healthful heart-healthy wine)... but, we cannot find a DONATE link from this page or your Home Page.

Bottom line... don't make the Donator struggle when he wants to DONATE to the DONATEE.


Thanks,
Bill
(New Sig: What do I know? Good luck, songwriter!)
#679982 - 01/08/09 01:21 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: DukeWill]  
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Scroll up to the top of the page and look right. It is on the top right side of this page just under the sponsor buttons. Unless you have turned off the left and right bars it's hard to miss. On the home page it's at the bottom left.

Brian

Last edited by Brian Austin Whitney; 01/08/09 01:22 AM.

Brian Austin Whitney
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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#679987 - 01/08/09 01:33 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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DukeWill Offline
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I have some things turned off, so, I guess that is it. I will try my best to remember to do this tomorrow.


Thanks,
Bill
(New Sig: What do I know? Good luck, songwriter!)
#681159 - 01/11/09 09:42 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: DukeWill]  
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Did you ever figure it out Bill?

Brian


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jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#681378 - 01/12/09 08:54 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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A wonderful interview. Humbling and motivating at the same time.
Thank you, Dean and Brian. wink

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

http://www.reverbnation.com/donnamarilynrichblend

Guild of International Songwriters and Composers


#681406 - 01/12/09 11:04 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: DonnaMarilyn]  
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What an incredible story of talent and drive...
Thank you so much for sharing with us.., Dean....
It was really nice that you'd take the time to do this...

Thanks Brian

Very best..,
Kaley smile

#682708 - 01/17/09 06:17 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Kaley Willow]  
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Glad you enjoyed it Kaley!

Brian


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Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#682710 - 01/17/09 07:01 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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MidniteBob Online content
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Raleigh, ya'll
I couldn't help thinking of the movie "Brian's Song" while reading this...Ya had Gale Sayers, the naturally gifted, and Brian Piccolo, the classic over achiever.

Dean, humbly presents himself as a Piccolo. Not sure I agree...All I know, is that an incredible amount of work has gone into his career.

Congrats & Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.

Midnite


Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

The Shoebox & Dinner at Eight trailers available at:

http://www.twometer.com/Two_Meter_Studios/HOME.html
#683694 - 01/20/09 05:53 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: MidniteBob]  
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I suspect Dean isn't really an overachiever as much as a restless heart that has to keep moving along. Most people could NEVER give up the pathway that had led them to success in broadway or commercial jingles or writing for films or writing hit pop songs or having an iconic screenplay or writing successful childrens books or Grammy nominated audio books or for that matter, writing a successful line of Travel books. I bet once Dean has this author bug out of his system he'll be on to something else that he'll ALSO be great at. I am not sure what is left exactly but I bet he'll find it. He's a creative nomad.

Brian


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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#684888 - 01/23/09 04:11 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Indianapolis, IN USA
I got a note from Dean last night that told me he was able to use part of this interview for another interview he was doing about the 10th anniversary of the Footloose broadway show which happens to be touring in his area coincidentally. I continue to get positive feedback from folks who have read this so I hope any of you hesitant due to the length will give it a shot. You might really enjoy it. And please feel free to post a note here about it as I know Dean checks in from time to time and may answer a question you have.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#687817 - 02/01/09 05:21 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Indianapolis, IN USA
Anyone know when the Grammy's are?


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#701437 - 03/14/09 05:17 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Indianapolis, IN USA
Anyone know when the new FAME movie comes out? I wonder if Dean will be on the red carpet at the movie premiere?

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#706884 - 04/01/09 05:10 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Indianapolis, IN USA
This post is partially messed and hasn't been working properly. I don't want to delete it and start over, but hopefully it's working now so folks can read it.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#707415 - 04/02/09 05:55 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,984
DukeWill Offline
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DukeWill  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,984
Louisiana, USA
Got the file back, I look forward to reading it again!


Thanks,
Bill
(New Sig: What do I know? Good luck, songwriter!)
#711518 - 04/17/09 01:38 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 694
Jim Offerman Offline
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Jim Offerman  Offline
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Joined: May 2008
Posts: 694
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Anyone know when the new FAME movie comes out? I wonder if Dean will be on the red carpet at the movie premiere?


I wonder what Dean thinks of the R&B remix of his classic song... I can't stand it!


Jim Offerman ~ inspirational pop music
blog - follow me twitter - buy 'Start Here' on bandcamp!
#745856 - 08/17/09 06:38 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Jim Offerman]  
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 87
janyoung101 Offline
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janyoung101  Offline
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Posts: 87
This is wonderful! Great article, this will keep me busy for a bit smile

#745887 - 08/17/09 08:57 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: janyoung101]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Indianapolis, IN USA
Glad you liked it Jan. We spent a LOT of time working on it! = )

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#773376 - 11/25/09 04:29 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 957
My Stunt Brain Offline
Top 500 Poster
My Stunt Brain  Offline
Top 500 Poster

Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 957
Sioux Falls, SD
Dean and Brian--

It's instructive and motivating to me to see such a person excell at being so diverse. I get the feeling he's the sort of fellow who drives, talks on the phone, punches in navigation info on his Tom Tom while eating lunch. Kudos, Dea for a wonderfully prosperous set of careers, and kudos Brian for such a deep interview. Very inspiring!

All My Best,
JD

Last edited by My Stunt Brain; 11/25/09 04:30 PM.

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Humilis humilibus Inflectens Arrogantibus
(Humble to the humble, Inflexible to the arrogant)

#774320 - 11/28/09 07:59 AM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Nov 2009
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Medford Offline
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Medford  Offline
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Posts: 49
Zelig. Woody Allen made a movie in 1987 which had a similar theme. He played a person who met all of these famous people. Of course, he couldn't do it in real life. It's too bad the DVD doesn't have a commentary track by the editor to allow us to know how it is done.


___________
Absolute Steal.com

Last edited by Medford; 11/28/09 08:00 AM.
#776041 - 12/03/09 06:55 PM Re: A Conversation With Oscar Winning JPF Member Dean Pitchford [Re: Medford]  
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 29
BettieR Offline
Casual Observer
BettieR  Offline
Casual Observer

Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 29
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Brian asked: Anyone know when the Grammy's are?

Yes, they are the last Sunday in January, Jan. 31, 2010.

I just went over the list of nominees at the Recording Academy site. Interesting list.

As a voting member of the Academy, I'm definitely going to weigh in with my votes!



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