Tony Asher

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Tony Asher
Born (1939-05-02) May 2, 1939 (age 80)
London, England, United Kingdom
OccupationLyricist, jingle writer, copywriter
LanguageEnglish
CitizenshipAmerican[1]
Notable workPet Sounds
Years active1960s–present

Tony Asher (born May 2, 1939) is an English-American jingle writer who co-wrote eight songs on the Beach Boys 1966 album Pet Sounds, including the singles "God Only Knows", "Wouldn't It Be Nice", and "Caroline, No". Asher had a significant influence on the album. In his own words, "It's fair to say that the general tenor of the lyrics was always his [Brian Wilson's] and the actual choice of words was usually mine. I was really just his interpreter."[2] He also co-wrote songs with Roger Nichols.

Pet Sounds[edit]

Asher met Wilson while recording at United Western Recorders in the 1960s.[3] Asher was at the time a 26 year old lyricist and copywriter who had been working on advertising jingles. He was also a Beach Boys fan who felt that the group was distinct from most artists, releasing a string of hits where "you wouldn't even know, necessarily, that it was gonna be a Beach Boys record from the first bar or something."[1] He also confessed: "I didn't own any of their albums. I had Bill Evans albums."[4] While in the studio, Asher explains: "I think we were recording some music, or voice-overs for a commercial and I had heard that the Beach Boys were in another studio. During a break, we kind of hung out in the hallway and eventually, sort of snuck into the booth and Brian was in the studio [alone]. ... eventually, we met."[1] Looking for a clean break from the by-then-famous Beach Boys sound (associated with surfing and cars) and not wanting to collaborate with any of the songwriters with whom he had previously worked, Wilson called Asher in early December 1965, and within ten days they had started to write what would eventually become Pet Sounds.[1]

Wilson and Asher wrote together for about three weeks.[5] According to Asher, a typical writing session started either with Wilson's playing melody or chord patterns that he was working on, by discussing a recent record that Wilson liked the feel of, or by discussing a subject that Wilson had always wanted to write a song about. His contribution to the music itself was minimal, serving mainly as a source of second opinion for Wilson as he worked out possible melodies and chord progressions, although the two did trade ideas as the songs evolved.[1] He characterized the experience as "writing an autobiography", however, "I wouldn't limit it to Brian's autobiography."[1] Contrary to the popular conception that Wilson composed all of the music to Pet Sounds, Asher contended that he also made significant musical contributions to "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times", "Caroline, No", and "That's Not Me".[5]

Asher's impression of Wilson was of "the single most irresponsible person" he had ever met, remembering that there were uncashed royalty checks of up to $100,000 scattered around Wilson's house.[5] He later called Wilson a "genius musician but an amateur human being".[6] In 2013, he said that he "didn’t mean that in the way it came out" and explained: "We all have areas of things we’re good at and things we’re not so good at, but his is so zeroed-in on music."[7] Asher was particularly effusive about the way Wilson "hunt[ed] for a chord change ... the [same] way some of us type."[1] On "God Only Knows", Wilson reflected: "I think Tony had a musical influence on me somehow. After about ten years, I started thinking about it deeper ... because I had never written that kind of song. And I remember him talking about 'Stella by Starlight' and he had a certain love for classic songs."[8]

Later career[edit]

Following Pet Sounds, Asher collaborated with Roger Nichols. He also wrote several songs with composer-arranger John Bahler recorded by The Partridge Family and used on their television show. As a copywriter and creative director at several advertising agencies (including Carson/Roberts/Inc.), Asher wrote and produced dozens of jingles for Mattel Toys, Gallo Wines, Max Factor Cosmetics, Glendale Federal Savings, and others.

After leaving the advertising agency business, Asher teamed with John Bahler to form Producer's Music Service, a successful jingle and scoring production company in Hollywood. Asher eventually went to work for Bass/Yager and Associates, a Los Angeles graphic design firm headed by designer Saul Bass. Asher spent 12 years at the firm, the last eight as president. In the 1990s, Asher and Wilson reunited to write an original song that was featured in the film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview with Tony Asher". The Pet Sounds Sessions (Booklet). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 1997.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ Kent, Nick (2009). "The Last Beach Movie Revisited: The Life of Brian Wilson". The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music. Da Capo Press. p. 16. ISBN 9780786730742.
  3. ^ Sharp, Ken (September 4, 2013). "Interview with 'Pet Sounds' Lyricist Tony Asher". Rock Cellar Magazine.
  4. ^ * Carlin, Peter Ames (2006). Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. Rodale. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-59486-320-2.
  5. ^ a b c Gaines, Steven (1986). Heroes and Villains: The True Story of The Beach Boys. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 143–145. ISBN 0306806479.
  6. ^ Kent, Nick (June 21, 1975). "The Last Beach Movie: Part 1". NME. p. 24.
  7. ^ Sharp, Ken (September 4, 2013). "Interview with 'Pet Sounds' Lyricist Tony Asher". Rock Cellar Magazine.
  8. ^ "Interview with Brian Wilson". The Pet Sounds Sessions (Booklet). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 1997.CS1 maint: others (link)

External links[edit]