Lee Adams

Lyricist


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In their their two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Lee Adams and Charles Strouse discuss their musical collaborations. Each is interviewed solo in half-hour interviews, and together in a one-and-a-half-hour interview. Strouse and Adams discuss writing music and lyrics for Broadway plays including their hit, "Bye Bye Birdie," "Golden Boy" (starring Sammy Davis, Jr.), and "Applause" (an adaptation of "All About Eve"). The pair then talk about their composition of one of the most well-remembered television theme songs of all time, All in the Family's "Those Were the Days." They offer advice to aspiring composers and lyricists, and talk about taking time off from their partnership. They also speak of their Emmy-winning song "Let's Settle Down" which was written for a 1995 television movie version of Bye Bye Birdie, starring Vanessa Williams and Jason Alexander. Karen Herman conducted the interview on October 10, 2005 in New York, NY.

"The trick in writing theater lyrics, to me, is getting inside the skin of the character, getting inside that character's head, and trying to come up with a song that that character would sing. It's harder than it looks … If you really get inside that character, the vocabulary becomes his vocabulary. That's what you try to do." 

Highlights
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on writing "Bye Bye Birdie"
02:39
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on writing the lyrics to "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
00:57
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the legacy of theme song to All in the Family and of the series itself
02:13
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor performing "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
02:27
Lee Adams on the favorite lyrics he's written
00:48
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on writing a musical as an undergraduate at Ohio State; on meeting partner Charles Strouse; on getting his M.A. at Columbia and working as a magazine editor
05:33
On wanting to be a lyricist and on his process; on the favorite lyrics he's written; on how Broadway has changed over the years; on his greatest career achievement - writing "Bye Bye Birdie"
07:28
On career regrets
00:33

Chapter 2

START OF JOINT INTERVIEW WITH LEE ADAMS AND CHARLES STROUSE: On when and how they met and became partners; on their collaborative process
06:31
On writing the play "Bye Bye Birdie;" on the original Broadway version and the television version; on the song "Put on a Happy Face"
14:13
On winning a Tony award; on the film and television versions of "Bye Bye Birdie" and the play's sequel
07:03

Chapter 3

On how "Bye Bye Birdie" helped their career; on their plays, "The American" and "Golden Boy" (the latter starring Sammy Davis, Jr.); on the play "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman" and what makes a good Broadway play
12:50
On writing the title song to All In the Family; on the publishing rights and lyrics to "Those Were the Days"
16:32

Chapter 4

On audience response to the theme song to All in the Family; on the legacy of the song and the series; on covers of their songs that they've enjoyed
08:09
On other work they did for television; on music for the play "Applause" and walking away from their partnership for a while; on their music for the play "Marty"
10:23
On their favorite stories about each other; on how they'd like to be remembered
10:14
Shows

All in the Family

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on writing the theme to All in the Family
03:14
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on their idea for "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
00:46
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on writing the lyrics to "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
00:57
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor performing "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
02:27
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the publishing rights to "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
00:56
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor performing "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
01:13
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the success of All in the Family
00:35
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on their process for creating "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
00:44
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the sheet music for "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
00:47
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on what their song "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family - meant to 1970's audiences
02:15
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on how their song "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family - softened "Archie Bunker"
00:57
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on presenting their song "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family - to Norman Lear
01:08
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on audience response to the theme song to All in the Family
03:07
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the legacy of theme song to All in the Family and of the series itself
02:13

Bye Bye Birdie

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the television version of Bye Bye Birdie
02:02
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on their involvement with the television version of Bye Bye Birdie
00:50

Goldbergs, The

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Charles Strouse on playing piano for The Goldbergs and Your Show of Shows
01:14
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on how their song "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family - softened "Archie Bunker"
00:57

Pop Culture

View Topic
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on "Bye Bye Birdie" as a commentary on the then-state of Rock 'N Roll
01:33
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on how their song "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family - softened "Archie Bunker"
00:57
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on writing the theme song to All in the Family
16:32
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on audience response to the theme song to All in the Family
02:47

Rock 'n' Roll on TV (1950s & '60s)

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on "Bye Bye Birdie" as a commentary on the then-state of Rock 'N Roll
01:33

TV Theme Songs

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on writing the theme song to All in the Family
16:32
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on audience response to the theme song to All in the Family
02:47
Professions

Composer

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on their collaborative process
01:43
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on what makes for the best Broadway musical and how they work together
01:37
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on advice to aspiring musical collaborators
02:40

Lyricist

View Profession
Lee Adams on his style and process as a lyricist
01:45
Lee Adams on how he works with a composer
01:22
Lee Adams on advice to an aspiring lyricist
00:47
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on their collaborative process
01:43
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on what makes for the best Broadway musical and how they work together
01:37
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on advice to aspiring musical collaborators
02:40

Music Professionals

View Profession
Lee Adams on his style and process as a lyricist
01:45
Lee Adams on how he works with a composer
01:22
Lee Adams on advice to an aspiring lyricist
00:47
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on their collaborative process
01:43
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on their collaborative process
01:43
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on what makes for the best Broadway musical and how they work together
01:37
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on what makes for the best Broadway musical and how they work together
01:37
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on advice to aspiring musical collaborators
02:40
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on advice to aspiring musical collaborators
02:40
Genres

Comedy Series

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on writing the theme song to All in the Family
16:32
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on audience response to the theme song to All in the Family
02:47
People

Lauren Bacall

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on casting Lauren Bacall in the play "Applause" - an adaptation of All About Eve
00:57

Gertrude Berg

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Charles Strouse on meeting the cast of The Goldbergs
00:33

Mel Brooks

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the play, "The American" - written with Mel Brooks
02:17
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on writing a song for Mel Brooks' "When Things Were Rotten"
00:37

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the play "Golden Boy" starring Sammy Davis, Jr.
05:14
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on depicting the African-American experience in the play "Golden Boy" starring Sammy Davis, Jr.
01:18

Dick Van Dyke

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the cast of the original Broadway run of "Bye Bye Birdie"
02:59

Norman Lear

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on writing the theme to All in the Family
07:24
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on presenting their song "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family - to Norman Lear
01:08

Jack Lemmon

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the cast of the original Broadway run of "Bye Bye Birdie"
02:59

Joshua Logan

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the play, "The American" - directed by Joshua Logan
02:17

Paul Lynde

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on the cast of the original Broadway run of "Bye Bye Birdie"
00:06

Joseph L. Mankiewicz

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on music for the play "Applause"
01:03

Carroll O'Connor

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor performing "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
02:27
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor performing "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
01:13

Elvis Presley

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on "Bye Bye Birdie" as a commentary on the then-state of Rock 'N Roll
01:33

Jean Stapleton

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Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor performing "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
02:27
Lee Adams and Charles Strouse on Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor performing "Those Were The Days" - the title song to All in the Family
01:13

Charles Strouse

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Lee Adams on meeting musical partner Charles Strouse
01:55

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