New ‘Senior Song Book’ Album by Eldest Pro Songwriting Duo [Video] [Interview]

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Senior Song Book
Senior Song Book Group - Image Courtesy of Randex Communications

“Senior Song Book” is the newest album to be released by the oldest professional songwriting team in music history. At the helm of the album released on Nov 15, 2019, is 102-year-old lyricist Alan R. Tripp. Tripp, along with his 88-year-old junior teammate, jazz pianist Marvin Weisbord, has produced a beautifully orchestrated work filled with new originals that hark back to the Big Band era.

‘Senior Song Book’ Brings Big Band Back to Life

The album was designed by the duo to fill the void that seniors who long desire the stylings of the pre-Rock era type of music. The songwriting mates’ songs recall the sound of tunes with witty and discerning lyrics that appeal to the sensibilities of those longing for music from the days of Big Band.

From the likes of teams such as Elton John and Bernie Taupin, as well as Carole King and

Singer Song Book
Alan Tripp (right)-and-Marvin Weisbord -_
Image Courtesy of Lisa Schaeffer Photography

Gerry Goffin, along with Burt Bacharach and Hal David, plus Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow, there have been many notable songwriting twosomes with produced music that spans generations. Nevertheless, none of the other writing teams working today bridge as many eras as Tripp and Weisbord. With almost 200 years of experience between them, and the release of “Senior Song Book,” the two music professionals are surely the oldest working songwriting team in pop music history.

The new eight-song collection has been written particularly for seniors, by seniors. One will sway to the music as the “Senior Song Book” moves seamlessly from swing and tango to rumba and other favorite styles along with Big Band orchestration panache. Listeners will reminisce to sounds harking back to the 1940s, but with modern lyrics that bring the melodies into the 2020s.

Humor and Life is Reflected in the ‘Senior Song Book’

Humor is the tactic that Tripp uses in his method of writing lyrics – as well as his views on life, longevity, and his own mortality. Calling his lyrics “simply honest,” Tripp voices his belief that one is certainly doomed if he or she cannot laugh. In the chorus of the album’s first single, “I Just Can’t Remember Your Name,” one can hear Tripp’s mischievous approach to songwriting:

“I know I ought to kiss you, but baby there’s an issue. I just can’t remember your name.”

Other songs in the “Senior Song Book,” such as “Looking in the Mirror” and “Wonder Woman,” mirror how the older generation views human relationships, as both good and bad. “Looking in the Mirror” frames a person as viewing life experiences pass before his eyes, with the end showcasing the person he sees in the mirror as the woman he lost.

Tripp’s Life Leading to the ‘Senior Song Book’

A World War I baby, Tripp was in elementary school during the Roaring 20s and hit his teenage years during the Great Depression. These life experiences molded his musical tastes and inspired him at 15 years old to pursue a songwriter career. At the time, after knocking on doors to sell his compositions with no results, the young Tripp realized his talent would be better used in the world of advertising.

Senior Song Book
Alan Tripp – Image Courtesy of Lisa Schaeffer Photography

Tripp went on to write the notable Choo-Choo Charlie/ Good N Plenty candy ads of the ‘60s and became a successful inventor of such famed creations as Mighty Milk, Os-Cal Chewable Calcium tablets, and the Endless Pool. He also has authored several self-help books with yet another in the works.

Not shaking his calling to be a songwriter, Tripp realized his dream writing popular songs with such later-famous songwriters as Alan Bergman. Retirement also had him joining the board of Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. It was with this organization that Tripp created the Billy Penn Awards for Positive Television News – aimed at increasing reporting of non-violent news.

Tripp Speaks of Life Adventures

Although retired on paper three times, the “Senior Song Book” writer with a restless mind does not see himself stop working, noting how he came back out of retirement just to write “Senior Song Book.”

Although retired on paper three times, the “Senior Song Book” writer with a restless mind does not see himself stop working, noting how he came back out of retirement just to write “Senior Song Book.”

Carol Ruth Weber: Did you always know that you would somehow realize your dream of becoming a professional songwriter?

Alan R. Tripp: Actually no. I tried it several times and it didn’t work out. The fact that I waited until I was older help me realize my dream.

I started at a little kid at five years of age. My daddy played the piano and he taught me to sing, and I would make up little songs. Then in my early teens and I learned every song that came along because of song sheets. At one point when I was 13 or 14 years old, I knew the lyrics to 2500 songs.

I believed that I could do better than what I read so I hung around the Brill Building in New York, where all the song publishers were located. The result was a number of people said, “Go away Kid.” I was about 15 or 16 and one day I wrote a singing commercial in my head for Kool cigarettes. I took it to the ad agency and they paid me $75 in cash. It was more money than I knew existed. So, I decided that it was better to give up songwriting and write singing jingles – and be able to eat. That was my first trial at songwriting.

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My second trial was in the early 1950s when I then ran an ad agency. In those days if you could bring along a client the television stations would let you produce your own programming. I created “Frank’s Friday Night Party” and it ran for 13 weeks from 11:15 to midnight on channel 10, CBS Philadelphia. Ed McMahon was our MC. Alan (Skip) Bergman was our director. Alan and I wrote a few songs, the best of which was “I Love Lucy.” It was a song with the names of all the girls I had given up and ended with “I Love Lucy.” Just before publication word came back to me from NY that Desi Arnaz had heard about this and exploded,” If anyone is going to write a song about Lucy it will be me.” So, that was it and Alan moved to California and married Marilyn.

CRW: Married to your love for 73 years, and the inspiration for your 2015 book, “A Woman with a Mind of Her Own,” did Maggie also serve as inspiration for any of your songs?

ART: Yes, and the most recent is a song that is in the “Senior Song Book” album. The song that she inspired is called, “Looking in the Mirror.” It tells the story of seeing her face instead of my own when looking in the mirror.

CRW: When and how did you meet Marvin Weisbord, and what led you to writing together?

ART: We both live in a place called Beaumont at Bryn Mawr, which is an elegant retirement community in Pennsylvania. I wrote a poem called “Best Old Friends.” The editor of our local community paper asked if she could reprint it. Marvin Weisbord saw it there and said would you mind if I put this to music. I said sure – and I happen to have two or three more.

Thus, began a partnership which ended up writing 14 songs. We selected eight of them and did a top drawer recording in a professional studio with 10 musicians and singers – and that became the “Senior Song Book.” One thing that is common with all the songs is the music will remind you of the 1940s, but the words are all from the perspective of the 2020s. Looking back at life from the standpoint of today’s realities. The lead song is titled, “I Just Can’t Remember Your Name.” [Tripp sings first line] “I’m ready now to kiss you, but baby there’s an issue, I can’t just remember your name.”

Each of the songs has a story about human life. It’s all about the reality of what happens with people.

CRW: You say you came out of retirement to write “Senior Song Book,” but you have also been working on another book to be published. What will that book be about?

ART: That’s different. The other book, which is half written, is called “The Weatherman,” and it’s a mystery story that mostly takes place inside a television station.

CRW: At 102 what are your continued dreams for yourself and future generations?

ART: My fervent wish is that the country would come together and we would stop living in an atmosphere where everyone hates each other, that’s not American.

Passion and Life Drives ‘Singer Song Book’ Writer

As the senior writer of “Senior Song Book,” Tripp notes how he wished to fill the void of the lack of new music written geared towards the older generation:

“We found a secret, if you write music in the old style of the 1940s, the Big Bands, people love it. Not just older people, but younger people. But the words must not try to compete with the old times. They were too saccharine, too sweet. They weren’t the reality you get when you become older – and I’m a little older.

“But now in this reality of looking back at life, we could sing new words with new ideas based upon our viewpoint of what makes life good. The question of what happens between men and women. How do they get along, and not get along? What happens the second time around? How about the Third and Forth? We wanted to have some real reflections on living and put those words to the old music. So, we suddenly came up with eight songs and a whole album, and that got me in this trouble I’m in right now.”

After speaking with Tripp, it is apparent that this man of a certain age has the passion of one a quarter of his over a century of living. This is certainly evident when listening to the sensational “Senior Song Book.”