Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mark Chait ("The Power of One" Co-Writer) Interview-Part 2

In the second part of our interview with Mark Chait (co-writer of "The Power of One" by Donna Summer), we talk about the song's production and its legacy. Is Herman Cain mentioned? Probably.

In the next part, we'll go over what Mark has done since this song (Hint: A lot).

Mark's web site


Steven: Nice. So, let’s move on to “The Power of One”. Do you know, how did you get chosen to work on this project?

Mark: I had met the head of music at Warner Brothers at the time. He still is, actually. And a very nice man who was a fan of my music. And he said, “We’re doing this Pokémon, do you want to have a look at the film and see if you can come up with an idea?” And I did. And then, I invited Merv Warren to join me in co-writing the song. Basically, that’s how it got started.

Steven: What was the writing process like? Did it come together quickly? Did it take a lot of time? How did that come about?

Mark: The first draft came about pretty quickly, like they always do. If you’re a musician and an artist, you understand. These things come quickly. And then, there was a lot of time involved in changing things and producers involved. The lyrics, I would say, was much harder than the music. The music took about 2 weeks to come together. But then, we had to actually find the correct lyrics that matched the movie. That was about a 3 week to a month process. It was a very pain staking process to get that correct. I loved working with Merv Warren. He’s a fantastic songwriter. We really enjoyed the process. I think that’s the key to writing a hit song.

Steven: Definitely made quite an impact.  Very memorable. Are there any particular lyrics that you’re particularly proud of, or have an interesting story behind them?

Mark: Well, the obvious one is the one that everyone talked about with Herman Cain. It inspired a lot of people in avenues that I never thought was even possible. The opening four lines, I think, are the ones that are mostly used, even to this day. “Life can be a challenge/Life can seem impossible/It’s never easy/when so much is on the line.” I think those lines pretty much say a lot.

Steven: Absolutely. Anyone can relate to that. We’ve all had times in our lives that are like that. You did mention, of course, Herman Cain. For those who aren’t aware, about 4 years ago, he was a politician running for US President. He sort of misattributed your song. He thought it was from the Summer Olympics and didn’t realize it was actually a Donna Summer song. First of all, how did you find out that that happened, and what was your reaction there?

Mark: It was very easy to find out, because it was all over the press all over the world. To be honest, it was at the Olympics, but it wasn’t part of the Olympics. NBC would cover the Americans during the Summer Olympics and at the end of every day, they would have the outtakes of all the events that occurred during the Olympic games. And, the song was perfect for covering that. The song was used many times by NBC to cover the Summer Olympics. It wasn’t the official song of the Olympic Games, but the confusion was pretty easy to make.

Steven: Was it funny when it happened? Did it make you feel like you had created something that was really memorable?

Mark: As any artist would tell you, any artist would be delighted that anyone would be talking about their work. Negative or positive, that’s not for me to say. But the fact that it inspired a conversation on the level for the Presidency of the United States, it tickled me pink. It really created a very warm feeling in me that somebody would use something that we created to further their career and use it as an example of, I think, the courage within themselves. So, any time anyone uses a song, it’s always wonderful. I had a similar experience with Hillary Clinton when she was at a dinner in New York for the Democrats. They chose my song, “The Power of One” and I got to perform it actually, with a wonderful singer from Broadway, Lillias White. And the same thing, it sparked a whole conversation. At the end of the performance, Hillary Clinton walked on stage, smiled, grabbed my arm and said, “Mark’s already summed up my entire speech in that song. So, any time anyone uses a song for that purpose, that you create as an artist, it’s a wonderful thing.

Steven: Just to clarify, that thing with Hillary Clinton, was that before or after the Herman Cain thing?

Mark: That was before. It was before, yes.

Steven: That is absolutely fascinating. I love hearing that type of story. You’ve really shed a lot of light. We knew a fair bit about it, but you’ve really put in some interesting details. Really glad to have that.

Transcript by

Additional information for this video comes from the Wikipedia pages for Mervyn Warren and Lillias White.

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