Jim Vallance, Andy Kim and Bryan Adams with their SOCAN Special Achievement awards
Jim Vallance, Andy Kim and Bryan Adams with their SOCAN Special Achievement awards

Andy Kim Quoted

Earlier this year Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance were honoured, as one of the greatest songwriting teams in music, with the SOCAN Lifetime Achievement Award for more than 35 years of songwriting success and excellence.  At the same gala, Andy Kim was presented with the PRO’s Cultural Impact Award in recognition of his 1969 hit "Sugar, Sugar." What follows is Kim’s acceptance speech given on June 19.  

I recently read something in the New York Times that I’d like to share with you.

Louis Sarno, an American suburban romantic who abandoned his doctoral studies to devote nearly half his life to recording and preserving the vanishing music of Pygmies in a remote Central African Rain Forest, died on April 1. He was 62.

Mr Sarno, who was neither an anthropologist nor an ethnomusicologist by training, was studying in Amsterdam when he was first smitten by the mesmerizing melodies he heard one winter night in the early 1980s on the radio.

The announcer identified the music only in Flemish, sending Mr. Sarno to a music library and inspiring an odyssey that for 30 years would distinguish him as an outsider in an antediluvian jungle civilization where drums, bow harps, flutes, zithers and where singing and dancing accompanied marathon ceremonies, and even everyday activities among the hunter-gatherers over whom he towered by more than a foot.

Here’s the part I love.


“I was drawn to the heart of Africa by a song,” Mr Sarno later recalled. “I boarded a plane that would take me into the equatorial heart of a continent where I did not know a soul, on a quest for a music that might have been nothing more than a state of my imagination.”

'The state of my imagination'.

When I read those words, I thought about all songwriters and the world of imagination we all live in.

With $40 in my pocket, I boarded a Montreal bus that took me into the heart of New York City where I did not know a soul, on a quest to find the songwriters and producers that filled my transistor radio and my heart with the magic of a world that only dreams are made of.

The state of my imagination.

Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Donny Kirshner and Phil Spector.

I became a songwriter in the Brill Building.

The state of my Imagination.

And then came the Summer of '69. While two young Canadian songwriters, Mr Bryan Adams and Mr Jim Vallance, who were destined for greatness & are being honoured here tonight wrote:


"I got my first real six-string - bought it at the five and dime
played it till my fingers bled - was the summer of '69"


My Summer of '69.


Another Canadian songwriter was living in New York City. Being told that you’re only as good as your last 2 minutes and 30 seconds and hoping the summer of '69 would be the change needed to solidify my presence among the giants of the Brill Building.


Summer of '69.


Two records were released back to back that had my name on them. "Baby, I Love You" went on to become my first million-selling record. "Sugar, Sugar" when on to historic heights.

The state of my Imagination.

People often ask me how Jeff & I came to write "Sugar, Sugar". I answer how Paul McCartney answered a similar question:


Paul, “How do you and John write your songs?"
Paul: “I don’t know, it’s magic."

Canadian Clergyman William Benjamin Basil King born in 1859 said something to the effect 'Be Brave, and Mighty Warriors will come to your Aid.'


I never liked the term Bubblegum as it related to "Sugar, Sugar". I thought I was writing my version of "She Loves You" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand". But there were warriors who came to my aid and changed the perception. Wilson Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner & Bob Marley made "Sugar, Sugar" their own.

No doubt there is something magical about "Sugar, Sugar". If I knew what that was, I'd have done it 1000 times over.


In my travels throughout the world children to grandparents can sing "Sugar, Sugar". But no one can remember the first line of the first verse.


'I just can't believe the loveliness of loving you; I just can't believe it's true'...

Songwriters live in the state of their Imagination. Personally, I’ve never taken a bow for inspiration. You write what you write for yourself. Hits only happen when people like what you’ve written. Simple.

Summer of ‘69.


The year of Woodstock, the Vietnam war was raging, politics in the US was in turmoil, FM Radio was called 'underground music', and Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson, a would-be Songwriter. And although radio did not want to play "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies, a non-band, it eventually dislodged The Stones' "Honky- Tonk Woman" from #1, and stayed at #1 for four weeks, becoming Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year.

The state of my imagination.

Thank you Michael McCarty, Stan Meissner, Eric Baptiste, Board Members & Staff at SOCAN. I am humbled & honoured to share this wonderful moment.

 

 

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