Boy Meets Girl is George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam. Now they are BoyMeetsGirl Music (BMGM) because, according to their website, the original name now brings up so-called dating sites and two other bands on internet searches. They will always be Boy Meets Girl to me. They started as an ‘80s singer-songwriter pop duo. They are most known for writing two of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” singing back-up on Deniece Williams biggest, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy,” and their own, “Waiting For A Star To Fall.” Just two weeks ago “WFASTF” was included in a list on the MTV Buzzworthy Blog regarding standout sax solos in reference to Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory.”
They were lovers, spouses, and divorcees. Through all of it they were and still remain friends and will forever be creative collaborators. Every emotion of every era came out in their music. Simply put, they are darn good pop writers. I fell in love with their ode to love, their breakthrough sophomore release, Reel Life. I saw “WFASTF” on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on TV in middle school, asked my parents to get me the full release, and wore that tape out. I still have it and have listened to it from time-to-time as the years have passed and I’m listening to it now as I write this.
There was just something about how sweet their pop sound was and how that combined with the intertwining of the feminine and the masculine voice, their melodies and harmony, and the purity of their love that came through their music. ‘Nuff said.
BMGM were gracious enough to provide me a song (plus one) to stream with each part of this interview. So, Part 3 will contain two songs and one of them is very special. Stay tuned for that.
For now, listen to their 1988 Number 1 hit, “Waiting For A Star To Fall,” from their breakthrough sophomore release, Reel Life.
Click the first pic to go to their official site and second, at the end of Part 1 of the interview, to get to their Twitter Account.
1. How did you come up with the name Boy Meets Girl?
Shannon: Long ago, when George and I first moved to Los Angeles from Seattle, we were about to send out a spate of demos to record companies in the hope we’d get a recording contract; we made huge lists of potential names (for example, ‘George & Shannon’ wasn’t very snappy) and eventually settled on Boy Meets Girl, a name that described us and indicated as well, due to its lighter nature, that we made pop music.
It’s difficult to be entirely pleased with a band name forever, given you may be stuck with it for a while, but there you have it. Man Meets Woman…on and on!
2. You sang back up on, arguably, Deniece Williams’ biggest hit, “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” (from the Footloose Soundtrack). How was it to also be tour back-up singers for her? What comes to mind when you look back on those times?
Shannon: Those were heady times. We were honored to be singing back up for Deniece and were having fun traveling to new places for her concerts. George Duke was the producer for the Footloose Soundtrack or at least for “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” When we arrived at his studio to sing the back-up vocals the two writers of the song, Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford, were also present. They’re both immensely talented songwriters and they hung out in the control booth with George Duke, smiling at the way the track was going. It was quite evident to all that the song was in the gates to be a big hit. Deniece’s voice was perfect, the track was upbeat, punchy, and tunefully catchy.
3. Additionally, you wrote two of Whitney Houston’s biggest hits, “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).” What are your thoughts on these songs today, working with Whitney, and the evolution of this diva, challenges and all?
Shannon: First of all, Narada Michael Walden did a stellar job producing both tracks. The first time George and I heard a recording of “How Will I Know” was when a friend who worked with Narada called us up from the studio and played it for us over the phone. We were simply blown away at the power of the track and amazed at Whitney’s voice. We’d not yet met her or heard her sing, so the whole thing was a revelation for us. And, then, Narada and Whitney teamed up on the track for “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” with similar results. We never guessed both songs would become the pop classics that they have and of course we consider ourselves to be extremely lucky at the fortuitous circumstances in each case. I think I can speak for George here and say that we’re both very grateful to Narada and Whitney and pleased to have been the writers.
We only met Whitney briefly, on one occasion, backstage at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles after one of her concerts. She’s certainly enjoyed incredible success as well as a nearly equal amount of difficulty in her career, but in listening to her earlier work, I still regard her as one of the best pop/R&B singers ever to come along. A born star.
George: Agreed. Anyone with doubts can watch those videos of “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and recall her spark. Intensity unmatched and unique. We will always be thankful to Whitney and all who helped make those songs shine!
4. How did you hook up with them and do you still keep in touch with Deniece and Whitney?
George: I met Deniece when she recorded her My Melody album; Thom Bell was co-writing and producing and asked me to fly back to Philly with him for the sessions. What a team; those two wrote a wonderful album of songs and beautiful arrangements. Through our publishing company at the time, “How Will I Know” ended up in Clive Davis’ hands, for Whitney Houston, as he was collecting songs for her first album. Shannon already filled you in on the session for that one, wow! We no longer have any contact with Whitney. I ran into Deniece in Chicago a few years back and we’ve been in touch a few times – her voice is strong and she looks happy.
5. Why do you think Reel Life seemed to resonate the most with a larger audience? Why did so much go “right” with that particular project?
Shannon: Hmmm…We had an excellent A&R man at RCA/BMG, the late Paul Atkinson, former bass player for the Zombies (Google them). He encouraged us to keep writing until we had a solid batch of songs to record and regularly weighed in as we brought him demos to listen to. Then, he lined us up with the also now late, great producer Arif Mardin, who upon first listening of our “Waiting For A Star To Fall” demo, agreed to work with us. Those two people did their best to ensure that Reel Life was a quality album with at least one potential hit song. We worked in the studio with a whole slew of fine musicians and engineers to come up with the end product. All in all, Reel Life was a satisfying experience for me and for George and certain tracks stand up to the test of time.
To be continued TOMORROW…