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Getting My First "Cover"

In the early 1980s, I was working as a song plugger for Chappell Music Co., then the world's largest publisher of songs. My job was to match the songs in our catalogue with recording artists in need of material, but I really wanted to be a full-time "staff" songwriter. My boss, Irwin Schuster, a prominent and highly regarded song man, allowed me to write songs after work.

Chappell Music publishing in the early 1980's was a fun place to work. That's me in the middle.

One Friday night at about 7:30 NY time, I was writing at the office when Schuster's phone rang. I picked it up. It was record producer David Kershenbaum calling Schuster regarding songs for a major recording group that he was producing. I told him Schuster wasn't there, but maybe as a professional manager myself (a fancy term for a song plugger) I could help him. David told me what kind of song he was looking for: a song with a similar "feel" to Kiss on My List by Hall & Oates. He wanted it in a minor key and I jotted down notes. Then, I said, "Mr. Kershenbaum, I've got the perfect song for you. It's everything that you've just described." To this he replied, "You're kidding, great! When can you get it to me?" I told him that I would Fed-Ex it to him on Monday.

When we hung up, I went to the piano in Schuster's office. It was dark in his office, but it had a view of New York City that was spectacular. Here I was, 23-years-old, alone at the piano at the most prestigious publishing company in the world, overlooking Manhattan. I imagined that George Gershwin must have had this exciting feeling at one time.

With Kershenbaum's instructions fresh in my mind, I wrote the song then and there. It was called After All. It just flowed out, the music followed by the words (that's the way it usually happens -- the mood of the melody suggests the kind of lyrics that are called for).

Excitedly, I called my musician friends right away to get the song recorded over the weekend so that I could send it to Kershenbaum as I had promised. I recorded the demo at the Tiki Recording Studios in Glen Cove, NY that Sunday. It was a fun session where all the musicians just 'clicked' and the demo sounded great. (Note to any songwriters reading this: Make sure your demos sound like records or they don't stand a chance of being recorded).

On Monday, I overnighted the song to Kershenbaum and waited for his reaction. Finally, late on Friday afternoon, one week to the day after we had accidentally spoke on the phone, he called me to say that he loved the song for the group that he had mentioned, which turned out to be the multi-platinum band Air Supply.

Click to hear After All.

I couldn't believe it!! Air Supply, one of the biggest groups in the world, was going to record the song that I had just written for their much anticipated new record!

As it turned out, Kershenbaum was replaced as the producer of the Air Supply record by Pink Floyd (The Wall) producer, Bob Ezrin.

There's a saying in the music business that "it's not final until it's vinyl," which means that you shouldn't get too excited about a band recording one of your songs until you see the actual record because so many things can happen to knock your song off the track list. So, you can imagine how relieved I was when I got the track sheet from Arista Records showing that After All had made it onto the record.

I remember sitting in Schuster's office the day that I received the finished album. I played it over and over and over, not quite believing that it was my song (with my name next to it) being sung by the familiar voices of Air Supply. At that moment, I really felt as if I had "made it." I'm sure glad I answered Schuster's phone that night!

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This was a great story about this song. I was listening to this album today and I thought I would look up the various song writers to see what they are up to and what other work they have done and i found this website and this story about one of my favorite songs ever, After All. This is my 3rd favorite song recorded by my favorite group air supply. I heard them do it live once in 1985 in Santa Clara Ca. anyway Seth I wanted to ask a little trivia regarding this song and it's lyrics?

the way air supply sung the middle portion was

"you were young and your dreams took you places far from me how I longed to believe you'd return now here you are"

But the inside lyric sheet inside the album cover, has those lyrics written as:

"we were young and your dreams took you places far from me, I was wrong to believe that you'd go cause here you are"

so my question was what was your original writing the one they sang or the 2nd one here that was written on the sleeve of the album lyrics page? when it was changed did you change the words or did the producers or did Graham of air Supply do it? finally what was the reason for the change and who requested it?

thanks so much and thanks for one of the greatest songs ever written :) Paul

Posted by: Paul Gohranson

Seth, Hello, My name is Bruce Glaser, I came across your webpage while cruising the net and I want to say It was great to see a photo of Irwin Schuster. I will always remember him for getting me very close to getting a major cut. It was the winter of 1973 I was a 20 year old kid with a few songs I wrote and had a band demo for me I was ready to hit the "pavement of publishers" My father made a call to columbia screen-gems records and the man said come right up and I'll listen to your songs. That man turned out to be Irwin Schuster. He listened to my songs quickly passing on a few then really like the last song. He said he would play it for a big group at the time named "The Grassroots" Anyway things didn't work out and I didn't get that cut, Remembering that phrase you mentioned "It ain't final till' it's vinyl" Irwin was kind, professional,and friendly, I will always remember that meeting we had and I wish I could have written for him but I got caught up with other things at that age. It was great visiting your webpage and seeing your photos very impressive!

Posted by: Bruce Glaser

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