Legendary lyricist Sir Tim Rice will be the recipient of the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame tonight. It’s the latest honor for the man who penned such unforgettable Broadway classics as “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”. Rice took time out from his busy schedule to appear on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to discuss the award and his craft.
“It’s a great honor,” a humble Rice reflected with Berman and Riedel. “I’m amazed, actually. They don’t often give it to people who don’t really write tunes, so it’s nice to, on behalf of all lyricists, to get the award.”
Rice later expanded on the award’s importance in understated tones. “Stephen Sondheim got the award many years ago, but of course he was a top master at both words and music, so it’s slightly unusual. Bernie Taupin won it with Elton (John), quite rightly. I’m sure there are plenty of other great lyricists that have won, but the thing is that it’s just the words this time that are getting the honor.”
The EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) winner used “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” to dissect the creative process. “We were trying to make it a love song and a song in the show at the same time, and that was very stupid. When I put the main line, ‘don’t cry for me, Argentina,’ in the main song- it had appeared elsewhere in the show- it somehow transformed it, and it turned it into a rather dishonest political speech, yet still worked as a rather tender love song, so that was a bit of an accident. But sometimes a line hits you; other times it takes forever to find one. There’s no rule.”
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