__At one extreme, collaboration could mean
sitting for endless hours at the piano with Johnny Mercer, with Carls
mom bringing in bowls of kreplach for sustenance. Just as frequently,
however, collaboration was actually a solitary, inspirational
experience. Which brings us to the story of Ebb Tide, the
song Michael says his father recognized as transcendent.
It brought together all the elements of Carls philosophy of songwriting
in a process the songwriter himself, in a chapter from an aborted autobiography,
described as the near-perfect wedding of melody to lyrics.
__Anyone involved with songwriting
will testify to the fact that each song, no matter how pure or from
the heart, has its own story, its own peculiar way of getting written,
Carl wrote. Some cases are of course more peculiar or more paradoxical
than others, but invariably some quirk or twist of luck enters the picture
to prod a lyric or melody to its completion. And sometimes some extenuating
circumstance occurs which is really unrelated to the musical aspect
of the song, but which adds a note of humor and completeness to the
job of songwriting.
__In the case of Ebb Tide,
the melody (and title) came from harpist-composer Robert Maxwell. He
titled the song as he did because the music he wrote evoked what Carl
describes as the flowing quality of water, and particularly the
rhythmic and building quality of the tides. When asked by a music
publisher to supply lyrics to the melody, because a host of singers
were anxious to record the song, so certain were they of its hit potential,
Carl balked. In a way, it brought together all the difficulties
which confront lyric writers, and all at one time, he wrote. Usually
when we get melodies to write lyrics to, the tunes either have no titles
at all or titles which somehow fit naturally into the tune, with respect
to accents, etc.
__But Ebb Tide? I knew
from the start that those words would never fit into that tune, and
in addition I had no idea what kind of meaningful lyric I would write
that would even remotely connect itself to the title. >
involved with songwriting will testify to the fact that each song, no
matter how pure or from the heart, has its own story, its own peculiar
way of getting written.