Arthur Hamilton


SCL Ambassador and Vice President Arthur Hamilton performs at the SCL Holiday Dinner as SCL President Dan Foliart looks on.

Remarks from Dan Foliart¹s induction of Arthur Hamilton as a SCL Ambassador, December 18, 2012 Los Angeles.

The first time I encountered Arthur Hamilton, I was attending a National Academy of Songwriters meeting in Hollywood. I was taking my junior year at USC and was trying to fill any spare time with activities that might enlighten me to the business. Arthur was presiding over a songwriting gathering, probably about this size, and I was struck with the masterful way that he was able to engage the audience and the respect he had for the guests he introduced. I¹ve always used Arthur as my role model in my public service and therefore, it is fitting, if not ironic that I am introducing him now.

Arthur came from a musical family. His father was a respected publisher and songwriter. Early on, he had the foresight to align himself with talented artists, however serendipitously those relationships may have occurred.  Point of fact, he took Julie London to his senior prom. Julie would prove to be a key factor in his early success. I believe it was through this connection that he met one of the true moguls of television and film in the 1950s, Jack Webb. Jack Webb was producing a film called Pete Kelley¹s Blues and happened to be married to his old prom date, Julie London. Arthur¹s work for this film became his true entre into the profession, yielding such songs as Sing a Rainbow and Cry Me a River, making him one of the most sought after songwriters in the field. I¹ll leave it to Arthur to fill you in on a great story from that movie.

Arthur, I remember not too long after this, Bobby Darin recorded, your beautiful song She Needs Me, which was on the album that also made Bobby a star with Charles Trenet¹s Beyond the Sea.

Arthur Hamilton¹s fans have been many and at one time or another most of them performed one of his songs. Bobby Short used to make a habit of playing one of his favorites every time Arthur walked into the Carlyle in New York.  He has had songs recorded by almost every major recording act over the last fifty years. Rain Sometimes, The Best I Ever Was and Til Love Touches Your Life are just a few that have accumulated numerous Platinum and Gold Records, an Oscar nomination, three Emmys and a Golden Globe.

The truth is, everyone aspires to write with Arthur and that was why it was a milestone in my career when he chose to write with me. However, far more esteemed writers have had the good fortune to have that opportunity. SCL Ambassadors, Patrick Williams, Johnny Mandel, Dave Grusin along with Michael Levine, David Pomernaz, Barry Mann, Alexandre Desplat and Gabriel Yared are just a few among many others.

Arthur, to take us back to that first night, I felt amazed that a man so celebrated in his own career could also have the time to give back to his community. As we gather tonight, in many ways we have Arthur to thank. He was a valued member of the Composers and Lyricists Guild of America and when the SCL was formed, he was one of the first presidents, served with great distinction and helped shepherd this fledgling organization in the early 80s. He is responsible for the continuity of our group, and I have been proud to have him by my side for ten years as Vice-President of our organization. Arthur has been the bridge between much of the golden years of songwriting, having nurtured close relationships with giants such as Ned Washington, Cy Coleman and Ira Gershwin. Many of those friendships were bonded as a result of over thirty years on the ASCAP board of directors, one of the longest tenures of any writer in the organization¹s history. Many of the changes that were implemented for the benefit of our community were a result of his tireless work on the board and walking the halls of Washington, where I am happy to report he will be again next May when he performs at the Library of Congress. Not only has Arthur served ASCAP and the SCL, he has served many terms as a governor of the Motion Picture Academy where he also served as Vice-President.

When I was asked to define a standard for our wonderful Score magazine, my answer was simple. It¹s a song that can stand the test of time, through many interpretations and arrangements. You can hear it time and time again and never tire of it. Arthur¹s song Cry Me A River does just that. From Julie London¹s first recording, simply with Barney Kessel¹s elegant jazz guitar to Leon Russell¹s gospel flavored production for Joe Cocker to last year¹s version that featured a David Foster Production and Bill Ross arrangement for Michael Bublee, the song has furthered the careers of countless artists including Barbra Streisand, Susan Boyle, Jeff Beck and Diana Krall; now that is a standard.