Recording - February 2018 - 61

FEBRUARY 2018
TAXI Road Rally 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

Keynote Interview: Steve Dorff, Part 2
Interviewed by Michael Laskow
Editor's note: We're repeating the introduction so
readers who didn't see it last month have some
context about our Keynote Interview subject,
Steve Dorff.
This year's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
has done something that less than a handful of people on the planet have done, which is ... he's done it
all. And yet, he's not exactly a household name. He's
always been the man behind the curtain. Steve
Dorff is one of the most successful songwriters and
composers of the last three decades. He's written
more than 20 Top Ten hits for Pop and Country
artists including Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion,
Blake Shelton, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Ray
Charles, Ann Murray, Whitney Houston, George
Strait, Dolly Parton, Judy Collins, Cher, Dusty Springfield, Ringo Starr, and Garth Brooks. That's the short
list. I edited that! Steve has created scores for TV
shows including the hits Growing Pains, Murphy
Brown, Murder She Wrote, and Reba. Steve has also
scored 28 feature films, including Any Which Way But
Loose, for which he wrote the title song. He has also
started writing for musical theater, including the
hit show Josephine. He is also a pretty decent keyboard player, and by his own admission, a pretty
terrible singer. Steve has been honored with more
than 40 BMI awards, an American Music Award, an
NSAI Songwriter of the Year Award, as well as three
Grammy nominations and six Emmy nominations. If
all that wasn't enough, he has had 12 #1 hits, over
400 songs recorded by notable artists and super
stars from all over the world. And in his spare time,
he conducts the occasional orchestra for scoring sessions. He just released his first book two days ago,
and it's called I Wrote That One Too, very appropriately. I just found this out right before I hit the
stage-Steve was just nominated for the Songwriters Hall of Fame. I told you he's done it all, so let's
have a listen to some snippets of his work.
[Medley of songs plays]
How do you translate your lack of formal music
training into conducting?
I'm a horrible conductor. All my friends tell me they

TAXI's Michael Laskow (left) reads a passage from Steve Dorff's book, and we're judging from the look on Steve's face that it might
have been the part about Clint Eastwood showing up to be his partner in a tennis match with Merv Griffin.

have no idea how any orchestra can follow me.
[laughter]

tionally moving. And I'm thinking, "How in the hell
has this happened? How did I get here?"

How can you stand up there and conduct an orchestra without knowing what each instrument's part is
supposed to do?
I've watched Bacharach do it a few times, and I said,
"I can do that." [laughter] Just kind of give the
upbeats, give the downbeats, wave your hands,
have a sweater around your neck ... perfect.
[laughter]

I talk about it in the book: Manifest destiny has
been a big part of my life, and I do believe in it. I've
manifested in my mind things that I've wanted to
accomplish and wanted to do, and somehow,
miraculously, a lot of those things have happened
for me. Now, I also wanted to play shortstop for the
New York Yankees and hit a 475-foot home run out
of Yankee Stadium, but I didn't manifest that one
too well. [laughter]

The truth is, with great musicians, they're not looking at you half the time anyway, except for
dynamics. It's just kind of fun. I don't always
conduct...
So, what you're saying is it's like air-guitar?
Yeah, yeah. I play amazing air-guitar.
What does it feel like to be up there in front of an
orchestra of incredible musicians?
I did a movie in London with the London
Symphony about 12 or 15 years ago, and it was one
of the greatest experiences of my life, because when
I asked them to take an "A," the oboe played an A
and then everybody starts tuning up. It's just a
cacophony of a wall of sound. Then, when you
started the first cue, I heard this-we had 94
pieces-and I heard that first chord and I just
started crying like a baby, because it was so emo-

One out of two ain't bad. Going back to the conducting thing, do you ever feel like a fraud because
you've never played cello...
No, you know what? I've done it so much I know
what I'm doing. And I've written the stuff, so I know
what the trombones are supposed to be doing; I
know when the French horns are a bar or two beats
early; and I work with the best of the best
musicians who are also very self-motivated to correct things. It's nothing for a Gail Lamont, the great
harpist, to say, "Hey, Steve, check bar 63, I think the
oboes are playing the wrong note." Thanks, Gail.
Always picking on the oboe players. Harpists are
finicky, aren't they? [laughter]
Continued on page 62
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - February 2018

Contents
Recording - February 2018 - Intro
Recording - February 2018 - Cover1
Recording - February 2018 - Cover2
Recording - February 2018 - 1
Recording - February 2018 - 2
Recording - February 2018 - 3
Recording - February 2018 - 4
Recording - February 2018 - 5
Recording - February 2018 - 6
Recording - February 2018 - 7
Recording - February 2018 - Contents
Recording - February 2018 - 9
Recording - February 2018 - 10
Recording - February 2018 - 11
Recording - February 2018 - 12
Recording - February 2018 - 13
Recording - February 2018 - 14
Recording - February 2018 - 15
Recording - February 2018 - 16
Recording - February 2018 - 17
Recording - February 2018 - 18
Recording - February 2018 - 19
Recording - February 2018 - 20
Recording - February 2018 - 21
Recording - February 2018 - 22
Recording - February 2018 - 23
Recording - February 2018 - 24
Recording - February 2018 - 25
Recording - February 2018 - 26
Recording - February 2018 - 27
Recording - February 2018 - 28
Recording - February 2018 - 29
Recording - February 2018 - 30
Recording - February 2018 - 31
Recording - February 2018 - 32
Recording - February 2018 - 33
Recording - February 2018 - 34
Recording - February 2018 - 35
Recording - February 2018 - 36
Recording - February 2018 - 37
Recording - February 2018 - 38
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Recording - February 2018 - Cover3
Recording - February 2018 - Cover4
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