For Neil Sedaka, breaking up a career is hard to do

Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:18pm EST
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By Steve James

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As Neil Sedaka puts it, he's the king of tra-la-las and doo-be-doos.

And why not? When Tin Pan Alley ruled the world of pop music, Sedaka was one of the songwriters churning out hits in New York's legendary Brill Building that helped pre-Beatles teenagers go to the hop, fall in love and break up.

The singer also topped the charts as a teen idol in his own right with "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen," "Oh! Carol," "Calendar Girl," and "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," selling 35 million records in the early days of rock 'n' roll.

Now, 50 years later, with over 1,000 songs to his credit, he has recorded "The Music of My Life," an album of original songs he performs that hit stores on Tuesday.

"I've raised the level of Neil Sedaka; after 57 years of writing, these are some of the best songs I've ever written," he told Reuters in an interview at his Manhattan apartment.

No "Moon in June" simplicity now though, these are ballads and love songs that are introspective or funny, with lush arrangements or Sedaka's trademark piano sound.

"Last year I had a great flow of creativity and in four months I wrote the 12 songs."

That number is slow by Sedaka's early standards, considering he used to turn out two or three songs a day at the famous Brill Building on Broadway, working with lyricist Howie Greenfield.   Continued...