Author Topic: Surf City collaboration  (Read 30831 times)

jdman

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Surf City collaboration
« on: June 19, 2019, 04:34:24 AM »
Listening to Dean's interviews, past and present, one can get confused. Dean has said recently that he has no idea what Jan wrote and that he(Dean) wrote more of Surf City than Jan did. In other interviews He's stated that Brian wrote 50%, Jan wrote 35% and he wrote 15%. He's also stated that he has no idea what happened when Jan and Brian met privately, which is probably accurate. The lyrics were written in Brian's handwriting, but that does not mean that Jan wasn't sitting next to him sharing ideas. Brian and Jan have both stated that they were at a piano banging out keys and writing together. So I guess it's hard to figure out exactly what Jan wrote, but I'd assume he contributed significantly. Any thoughts?

Surfermike

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Re: Surf City collaboration
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2019, 11:52:17 AM »
I remember when Michael “Doc Rock” Kelly interviewed Dean years ago in his Sunshine Music fanzine. Just as he mentioned in his latest book, Dean corrected a lot of the words to make more sense with the surfing lingo he was familiar with. According to him, collaborating and changing a few words in a novel like War and Peace is very insignificant, but not in a 2 minute and 24 second song with just a few lines in it. He should have received writers credit along with Berry and Wilson. I’m surprised that Jan wasn’t that generous towards Dean. As for Brian, it’s well known he omitted Mike Love’s name from many songs. Unfortunately, I guess we’ll never know how much Jan or Brian wrote lyrically or musically. Thankfully, Dean knew to put in the proper surfing terms of that era.

Mark A. Moore

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Re: Surf City collaboration
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2019, 02:51:21 PM »
Jan was writing toward fulfilling the terms of his songwriting contract with Nevins-Kirshner (which was in the process of changing over to Screen Gems), and they viewed Jan as the principal creator of product for the company. He had quotas to meet. A documented fact. Jan was free to work with collaborators, so long as they understood that Screen Gems would be the publisher.

The fact that Brian was comfortable enough to collaborate with Jan—on a song that originated with Brian—knowing full well that Sea of Tunes would not be able to claim the publishing, is telling. Brian understood that Screen Gems would be the publisher, per the terms of Jan’s contract, which indicates Brian’s level of comfort with Jan’s creative input.

Jan and Brian split the songwriting royalty for “Surf City” 50-50 (the publishing royalty was separate, which is why Murry Wilson flipped out). The copyright for “Surf City” was filed on May 13, 1963, four days before the song was released.

Questions to ponder . . .

There was no way to know that “Surf City” would become a hit, let alone reach #1. So why would Jan want to deprive Dean of credit prior to release? Especially since they had co-written half of their first album together.

Why would Dean get credit for songs like “Bucket ‘T,’” “Schlock Rod,” and “Old Ladies Seldom Powershift,” but not the majority of other songs in the Jan & Dean canon?

If Dean co-wrote “Surf City,” he should have received credit. But there is no basis for minimizing Jan’s contribution. There’s a reason he was the one signed to the production companies as a songwriter, both Nevins-Kirshner and successor Screen Gems.

And remember, Roger Christian also claimed to have co-written “Surf City” . . . after it hit #1.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 03:02:54 PM by Mark A. Moore »

jdman

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Re: Surf City collaboration
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2019, 04:06:41 AM »
Thank you Mark! I'd like to make one more point about song writing. I've written a few. None of them went to number 1. lol but there were times when a friend suggested I change a word here and there. The song was already written, musically and lyrically. I don't think a word change constitutes writers credit. Surf City contains over 170 words. If you count the repeated words, it's over 200. If Dean changed a couple of words, that's only 1% of the lyrics. When you count the music, then it's less than .5% of the song. So if Dean indeed made those suggestions, then he can always say he did his small part to help the song have credibility. But does .5% constitute writers credit? I don't think it does. Surf City was written by Jan Berry and Brian Wilson. There was no reason to credit anyone else. Like Mark said, this was determined before the song was released.

positivemusic

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Re: Surf City collaboration
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2019, 03:46:45 AM »
I remember when Michael “Doc Rock” Kelly interviewed Dean years ago in his Sunshine Music fanzine. Just as he mentioned in his latest book, Dean corrected a lot of the words to make more sense with the surfing lingo he was familiar with. According to him, collaborating and changing a few words in a novel like War and Peace is very insignificant, but not in a 2 minute and 24 second song with just a few lines in it. He should have received writers credit along with Berry and Wilson. I’m surprised that Jan wasn’t that generous towards Dean. As for Brian, it’s well known he omitted Mike Love’s name from many songs. Unfortunately, I guess we’ll never know how much Jan or Brian wrote lyrically or musically. Thankfully, Dean knew to put in the proper surfing terms of that era.

Just want to throw out there that it actually wasn't Brian that kept Mike's name off of some of their best known, early songs. That was done at the hands of Murry Wilson, his father.

Surfermike

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Re: Surf City collaboration
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2019, 11:00:45 AM »
You’re right Positivemusic. How can I forget Murry. I’m sure Brian would have done the right thing for Mike, but Uncle Murry wanted to keep it in the family, even if Mike was his nephew.

owen

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Re: Surf City collaboration
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2019, 12:48:37 AM »
Mark raises a very interesting point about the credits, and one which suggests that they might not always be accurate. "Old Ladies Seldom Powershift" is credited to both Jan and Dean, but it is an instrumental. Which bit of it did Dean write then?

Several possibilities come to mind. Dean came up with the title, it made Jan laugh, he gave Dean a credit. Alternatively, Dean's contributions were real but scattered across the songs, and Jan credited him with the instrumental because he deserved some songwriting royalties from the album, so why not credit him with this one.

I raise the second possibility because Dean has suggested several places that the atmosphere was collegial, with people throwing in ideas and contributing in an ad hoc way. This might suggest that th credits were not always shared in a musically accurate way, but on a much looser basis.

Of course its always possible that Dean came up with the melody to the instrumental and Jan expanded upon it and it WAS a completely musically accurate credit. Maybe.

Mark A. Moore

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Re: Surf City collaboration
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2019, 02:41:07 PM »
Mark raises a very interesting point about the credits, and one which suggests that they might not always be accurate. "Old Ladies Seldom Powershift" is credited to both Jan and Dean, but it is an instrumental. Which bit of it did Dean write then?

Several possibilities come to mind. Dean came up with the title, it made Jan laugh, he gave Dean a credit. Alternatively, Dean's contributions were real but scattered across the songs, and Jan credited him with the instrumental because he deserved some songwriting royalties from the album, so why not credit him with this one.

I raise the second possibility because Dean has suggested several places that the atmosphere was collegial, with people throwing in ideas and contributing in an ad hoc way. This might suggest that th credits were not always shared in a musically accurate way, but on a much looser basis.

Of course its always possible that Dean came up with the melody to the instrumental and Jan expanded upon it and it WAS a completely musically accurate credit. Maybe.

In the case of "Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift," Dean came up with the title and Jan gave him a songwriting credit for it.

But it's much deeper than that. You have to understand that "Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift" was originally titled "Mr. Chan," a song written by Jan Berry.

It was later re-titled "Bucket Seats" and released on the "Rally-Packs" single on Imperial with "Move Out, Little Mustang" (also co-written by Jan). But since Jan purposely withheld his songwriting credits in an effort to bypass his obligations to Screen Gems and place the publishing for these songs with Trousdale Music, Jan gave Don Altfeld the credit for "Bucket Seats." Jan arranged and produced both sides, but again withheld his production credit in order to place the production with Dunhill.

This was all part of Jan's scheme to branch out and make additional money through other publishers and other production companies. But Screen Gems found out and busted Jan for it, and the "Rally-Packs" release mentioned above was one of the reasons Jan and Lou Adler were sued by Screen Gems in 1964.

When it came time to flesh out The Little Old Lady from Pasadena LP in late '64, "Mr. Chan," aka "Bucket Seats," still counted against Jan's Screen Gems quota, so the title was changed to "Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift" . . . and Jan gave Dean credit for the title. Thus, Dean got a songwriting credit for it.

The details are in my book. There was much more to the lawsuit.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2019, 02:44:30 PM by Admin »

jdman

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Re: Surf City collaboration
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2019, 02:35:13 PM »
Just for fun. Teaching the youth about Jan and Dean. Lol

https://youtu.be/Zy3Vz7ln4fQ