Stephen Michael Schwartz, Off the Clef #1: The Late '70s Collab Sessions, "Walk Right Out On These Tears" w/Chris Montan SONG DEMO
Stephen collaborates with Chris Montan, who would eventually oversee Disney's Music Dept., becoming the man behind the movie music of The Mouse.
ABOVE: “Walk Right Out On These Tears,” sung by Chris Montan (words and music by Chris Montan and Stephen Michael Schwartz, ©Busy Body Music/BMI)
“It’s 1977. Where to go next? What to do next? Am I a ‘one-trick-pony’? Did I get my one shot at ‘the big time’ with RCA Records (three years before) only to be slapped down to reality…proving I didn’t have the goods?
“It’s so easy to accept the negative thoughts of rejection, and then let that ruin you. Suddenly everything I did I began to question. Am I just too sensitive? Being ‘thick-skinned’ was never my strong suit…ironic that I should choose a profession where ‘No’ was heard more often than ‘Yes.’
“I found a club that honored me as a respected member.”
“In between odd jobs to pay rent, I was writing songs, playing clubs, and meeting people along the way. Today they call it ‘networking.’ I met and collaborated with some wonderful singer/songwriters, some who became lifelong friends and major success stories along the road, with each of them working through their own individual trials and triumphs.
“Collaborating, I found, was also consoling: It brought peace to the process. Unlike that famous Groucho Marx line, ‘I would never join a club that would have me as a member,’ I found a club that honored me as a respected member. This series focuses on some of my friends/collaborators and their accomplishments.
I’ve got to start with Chris Montan:
“Chris and I were brought together by the respected publisher, Ronny Vance, who thought we’d make a good writing team. We did, and although the songs we wrote together failed to generate any cover records, our friendship struck gold.
“We were asked to write ‘on spec’ (meaning no money up front, and no promise that whatever we wrote would be used) a song for the 1979 movie, The Rose, starring Bette Midler, a movie loosely based on the life of Janis Joplin.
“We had a good shot at this given that Ronny Vance, who gave us the task, was working for the company making the film, 20th Century Fox. It seemed like a worthy time investment. The song was called, ‘More Of a Rose (Than a Thorn).’ It was one of my favorite songs Chris and I wrote together. There is a demo floating around somewhere, but the song never made it into the movie.
“In 1980, Chris went on to record his own album for 20th Century Fox Records, Any Minute Now, which received critical acclaim. (Click here for the album’s first track, “Is This the Way of Love,” featuring Warner Bros. Records artist, Lauren Wood.)
“Years later his real impact on the music industry came as he moved up the ranks of the Walt Disney Company to become the President of Walt Disney Music.
“Under Chris’s guidance, soundtrack albums from ten of the studio’s theatrical releases, Cocktail, Beaches, The Little Mermaid, Pretty Woman, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, Frozen, and The Lion King have been certified multi-platinum with The Lion King selling over 10 million units.
“I always knew Chris was destined for greatness. Along with his intelligence, he had a certain aura of calm confidence surrounding him. He still does. Above is a rare demo of one of our songs, ‘Walk Right Out On These Tears,’ sung by Chris” (press “Play” on the music player at the top of the article).
Readers: Here’s your chance to play producer and arranger! Let us know in the comment section below how you’d arrange “Walk Right Out On These Tears”!
What instrumentation might you add (along with standard drums and bass)? Acoustic piano? Background singers? Horns? Strings? If so, where? Verses? Chorus? Would you make space for a guitar solo (electric or acoustic)?
Or, if you prefer, be A&R exec for a day! Which current artist or group might you assign this song in today's market? Which artist might do it justice if an updated recording of the song were to happen?
Front Row & Backstage is a reader-supported publication. To receive the upcoming Exclusive Editions of Stephen’s Songwriting Collaborations in the coming weeks (FEATURING PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED DEMOS), consider becoming a free or paid subscriber!