David Shire


The photo is from the Zodiac scoring sessions.

The following is the text of SCL President Dan Foliart’s introduction of David Shire at the 2006 SCL Holiday Dinner:

The SCL created the Ambassodor Program three years ago. Those honorees have been Earle Hagen, Ray Evans, Ray Charles, Vic Mizzy, Van Alexander and the Sherman Brothers.

Tonight we are honoring a gentleman whose range, diversity, and general ability to do many things well is unparalleled in our profession. How many composers do you know who can go from scoring The Taking of Pelham 123 to Saturday Night Fever, which by the way, he won two Grammy Awards for. David Shire has written for the theatre, scored television, scored motion pictures and written hit songs and then music directed, played piano on Broadway and produced pop records in his spare time. Doing them all to perfection.

I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down yesterday with David and first impressions are very important to me. I found a warm, truly human individual that I wish that I could spend a lot of time with. David came from a musical family. He played in the band that his father lead in Buffalo New York, coincidently the home of our beloved SCL Ambassador, Ray Evans. On January 27th David will be returning as a conquering hero in a special concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic, that will feature an evening of his works including a new jazz piece that he has composed.

He graduated from Yale with a double major in English and Music and then headed to Brandeis on a fellowship to study the middle period of Stravinsky. However, it wasn’t long before he was designated, the guy who wants to write theatre, and the school decided to take away his original fellowship and in his honor the new Eddie Fisher Fellowship was created to more suit David’s aspirations. Nevertheless, this study at Brandeis was aborted after three months. Anxious to get on with his career path, he moved to New York and got the attention of a young Barbra Streisand, initially as a songwriter, with a tune that he had written during his junior year at Yale, from a rendering of Cyrano De Bergerac. This was followed shortly by a period when he was playing the piano and assistant conducting Funny Girl. Barbara went on to record four more of David’s songs. Her latest concert tour begins with his Starting Here, Starting Now.

David’s work in the theatre has included:

  • Starting Here, Starting Now (Off-Broadway revue)
  • Closer Than Ever (Off-Broadway revue)
  • Baby (Broadway – book musical, Tony nomination)
  • Big (Broadway) – book musical, Tony nomination)
  • Take Flight (book musical – coming to Broadway soon)

As a songwriter he won an Oscar for his song, It Goes Like it Goes, sung by Jennifer Warnes, and I still remember sitting in the theatre being captivated by this amazing song over the opening sequence. David had the good fortune of being nominated for two songs that year, the other being I’ll Never Say Good-bye, and he is particularly proud of his collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman for that song which was from the movie, The Promise.

David has written another song–I call them the songs that pull me off the highway tunes, because you become unable to drive because they are so beautiful and you are caught up in an emotional moment–went to number four on the charts, With You I’m Born Again. Incidentally, the Billy Preston and Syreeta record was co-produced by David and our own past president, Jim di Pasquale, who was also involved with the score. He tells me that the song was never suppose to be the single, but an influential DJ heard Billy Preston sing it at the Troubadour and said if they released it he would put into heavy rotation. The rest is history.

Some of David’s early television scores will be found on the classic western, The Virginian. He also wrote the theme and did many episodes of one of my personal favorites, McCloud. He wrote the theme for Alice, one of the most successful series of its era and numerous other series including the theme for The Practice, which our friend Jim di Pasquale scored all the episodes.

His feature scores are too numerous to mention, but as a start:

  • Skin Game
  • Steelyard Blues
  • Class of ’44
  • The Fortune
  • Farewell, My Lovely
  • All The President’s Men
  • Straight Time
  • 2010
  • Short Circuit

I told him that The Hindenburg was one of my personal favorites and he was happy to report that it is coming out on CD, along with Max Dugan Returns, in the near future.

In speaking with David, he is particularly proud of his score to Return to Oz, which he scored with the London Philharmonic and The Conversation that was scored for Solo Piano. The dichotomy of these two scores speaks to David’s range.

We are most proud that David has just completed the score for the movie, Zodiac, which is set to be released in March 2007, directed by David Fincher. He has incorporated a 55-piece string orchestra, a solo trumpet and piano, which were recorded at Skywalker ranch. He said he has utilized a serial technique for a serial killer. Coincidently David, as I was driving home from our meeting, I passed Paramount and there it was prominently displayed.