Songwriter Carole Bayer Sager’s Top Tunes and Favorite Songsmiths

Steven Gaydos

Even though Carole Bayer Sager says that when writing her autobiography, “They’re Playing Our Song,” ”I didn’t want to write a book about songwriting,” she’s a good sport when pressed on the subject of her favorite songs and songwriters.

Here are the cuts, and the writers behind them, that make the CBS cut:

“‘Over the Rainbow’ [Harold Arlen-Yip Harburg], for me, is the quintessential top of the top of the top of the songwriting craft. Of course Judy Garland’s version is the gold standard, but Eva Cassidy’s version still gives me goosebumps.”
Bayer Sager says of former husband and co-writer Burt Bacharach, “There are very few composers whose works are instantly identifiable, and that’s true of Burt’s work. And his favorite music was Brazilian. He loved the rhythms. I remember when we were together we would be in the kitchen tapping things, spoons on plates, anything.

John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ has to be considered one of the top five songs of all time.

“When I was starting out in New York City, I would take Carole King’s demos and study them. It was the thrill of all time to work on a song with her when we did ‘It Could Have Been Anyone’ with David Foster for Nora Ephron’s ‘You’ve Got Mail.’ I should say one danger of working with David, which is also true of working with people like Melissa Manchester, or Carly Simon, or Babyface, you have to listen really closely as a co-writer to make sure you haven’t been seduced by their natural gifts, their musicianship, vocals or production. Babyface makes anything you do sound great!

“I also loved Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s demos. Obviously they’re great songwriters, but I also loved Barry Mann’s voice. Along with Carole King, they were the ones I learned from.”

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