Last night New York was a veritable treasure trove of songwriting talent as the Songwriters Hall of Fame converged to honor this year’s inductees. Perhaps less glamorous than the Grammy’s but certainly of equal import within the music industry, the event, now in its 43rd year focuses on hit makers of the past as much as the writers of today.
Among the names celebrated this year were Bob Seger, Gordon Lightfoot, and Bette Midler who was presented with the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement. Quipped Midler: “This thing has been going on 43 years, and this is the first time I was ever invited?” Others honored who may not be as well recognized by the general public, but hugely important in the annals of music history were Don Schlitz and Jim Steinman.
Don Schlitz whose prolific writing career includes 24 number one country songs, perhaps the most famous of which is “The Gambler” was aptly introduced by Kenny Rogers, singer of the 1978 mega-hit. Of Schlitz, Rogers stated, “He doesn’t write songs. He writes careers”.
Steinman, another incredibly gifted hit-maker was introduced by a noticeably emotional Meat Loaf, whose album Bat Out Of Hell Steinman wrote and which still remains one of the best selling albums of all time at 40 million copies. Meatloaf sang a medley of Steinman hits, in tribute to “his best friend in the whole world” including “Bat out of Hell” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” with Constantine Maroulis and Patti Russo.
Other performers on the night included Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris and Ben E. King, who sang “Stand by Me” and received the Towering Performance Award. A posthumous Pioneer Award was presented to Woody Guthrie and was collected by his daughter Nora Guthrie on his behalf.