About Searching for a Song to Sing

Some Words About Lyricist Steve Manis 

Steve Manis, who was born in San Francisco, California, brings a lifetime (67 years) of living…in more than 160 countries…and a variety of experiences as a world traveler to the keyboard. He has been a student, a teacher, a free-lance foreign correspondent, an author, a photographer, a documentary film maker and, primarily through years of hitch-hiking, a keen observer of the world surrounding us.

Mini-Composition Regarding Composer Mathieu Serradell

Mathieu Serradell, was born in France, lived in England for a number of years, and, in addition to his native French, speaks English, Spanish, German and modern Greek as well as smatterings of other languages. He is in his early 30s and has made his mark over the past few years as either an assistant musical director or as musical director in various European theatrical productions including, most recently, his associations with the British 100th anniversary production of “Titanic” at the magical outdoor Minack Theatre in Cornwall, UK as well as with “Sister Act”

and “Beauty And The Beast” in Paris’ prominent Théâtre Mogador

where Mathieu is at the forefront keyboard, then, at the piano:

https://youtu.be/NoPbrOJF-1U

His website awaits: Mathieu Serradell Reverbnation

Musical Artisan Micha Lobry

Since childhood, singing has always meant a lot to Micha Lobry. At age 19, a guitar was put into her hands. Later, she sang in “Choeur Français d’Oratorio”(Mozart, Puccini, etc.); was a soloist in a jazz combo (see photo) and met Mathieu Serradell while singing in the musical group: “L’Affaire ClearStrings.”

Jazz_Micha_550

Artistic and Musical Supervisor, Lyrics and Music Advisor, Translator & Singer

If ever there were a catalyst for a project, one need look no further than to Micha Lobry. She provided the bridge of introduction that connected lyricist Steve Manis with composer Mathieu Serradell. She did more…much more. Even though the three of us collaborated from a distance and rarely met together, it was she who traveled monthly from the south of France to Paris in order to work alongside Mathieu on lyrics sent to both of them from California by Steve. Not only did her initiative introduce Steve and Mathieu to one another, but, as the singer of the songs’ “scratch-tracks,” her artistic interpretations, in a sense, ‘gave birth’ to the songs. As the project’s musical supervisor, she was there when lyrics required reshuffling to fit the music and when compositional roadblocks required leaps of faith to be overcome. Equally important, as melodies, rhythms, patterns, tempi, style and arrangements needed to be picked, from among those proposed by Mathieu, her guidance, as an impartial listener, was appreciated and, more-often-than-not, followed.

Songs of Substance

It may sound—or even be—cliché-ish, but similar to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” through my lyrics, and the creative musicianship of my composing counterpart, Mathieu Serradell, I hope our songs bridge a continental gap between France and America as well as combine substantive themes with artful flare. Over the course of a relatively lengthy life, I was less sure than the Beatles of who I would be “When I’m 64.” In fact, had I died before having just turned 64, I would not have ‘become’ a lyricist. For, it was not until September of 2011 that, in collaboration with Mathieu, my lyrics for the song “Déjà Vu” were married to his music, thus truly transforming me for the first time into a lyricist.

For decades, I had written poems that I thought were—or at least could become—songs, but until I turned 64, in the words of Paul Simon, I was one of the many people…

“…writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.”

In 1974, while I was hitch-hiking through Africa, a French friend of mine, then named Michelle Bergue, now Micha Lobry, wrote to ask if I could write a song for her in English. Ironically, I had not known her well enough to know that she played a guitar or had any interest in singing. And, in spite of the fact that up to that point in my young life I had never attempted any lyrics, I scribbled out a ‘song’ titled “Searching For A Song To Sing.” Nothing was done with it!

Then, thirty seven years later, Micha tracked me down and reminded me of those lyrics I had written decades earlier. She asked if I were still inclined to write lyrics and told me of her talented composer friend, Mathieu, mentioning that he was looking to collaborate with someone capable of writing lyrics in English. Thus, “Déjà Vu,” a bossa nova, was born and a few songs later, sensitive to the time period in which, “Searching For A Song To Sing,” had been written, Mathieu turned my decades-old lyrics into a folk song true to those sung in the mid-1970s. That demonstrates Mathieu’s versatility and brilliance…Here I write both subjectively and objectively of the talent with whom I am SO fortunate to collaborate. Others will judge whether my lyrics rise to his standard of musicality; whether my lyrics touch, teach or resonate with them.

As for me, the explanation of how I became a lyricist is best revealed in a “Broadway-style” tune of ours titled, “What if…?” Ray Bradbury, to whom I was once introduced by a writer friend of mine named Sid Stebel, used to always pose that question in his workshops…to get the creative juices flowing. So, he was the source of the title, but the song was inspired by lyricist and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, who, when working on Oklahoma, “insisted that he would write the words first.”

Oscar Hammerstein II

I too, write the words of our songs first—or is it “I” who actually writes them? In any event, the words which flowed for “What if…?” probably best explain how I became a lyricist:

WHAT IF…?

What if thoughts were precisely weighed?
What if words were perfectly laid?
What if music jumped from the page?

What if thoughts were precisely weighed?
What if words were perfectly laid?
What if music jumped from the page?
Wouldn’t lyrics be made?

When is a hammer a Hammer,
A stein a Stein
Don’t you need a carpenter
And some tasty wine?
Pounding out a rhythm,
Sipping what is fine?
Flowing full of freedom,
Sensing the divine…

At a time which is right
Some poems do take flight
Words that have been strung
Are ready to be sung.

(reprise on the melody of the 1st verse)
Wouldn’t lyrics be made?

When is a hammer a Hammer,
A stein a Stein?
Poised at a typewriter
With some fine wine.
Pounding out a rhythm,
Of what is Thine,
Flowing full of freedom,
Producing the sublime,

At a time which is right
Some poems do take flight
Words that you have strung
Are ready to be sung,

What if thoughts were precisely weighed?
What if words were perfectly laid?
What if music jumped from the page?

What if my thoughts were precisely weighed?
What if my words were perfectly laid?
What if your music jumped from my page?
Wouldn’t a lyricist be made?

Lyrics and Copyright (2012) by Steve Manis