Sea Story: At Age 92, Jack Lawrence, out Lyricist of "Beyond the Sea," Talks about His New Autobiography-And about Having Kevin Spacey Sing His Words

By Clinton, Paul | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), December 7, 2004 | Go to article overview

Sea Story: At Age 92, Jack Lawrence, out Lyricist of "Beyond the Sea," Talks about His New Autobiography-And about Having Kevin Spacey Sing His Words


Clinton, Paul, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


Could the lyrics of the love song "Beyond the Sea, made famous by the late Bobby Darin, have been written with two men in mind? "It could have been," says Jack Lawrence, the openly gay 92-year-old songwriter who wrote the lyrics about a sailor at sea longing for his lover waiting at home. The tune, created in the 1940s, is now the title of an upcoming movie about Darin's life starring Kevin Spacey.

Somewhere--beyond the sea Somewhere--waiting for me My lover stands on golden sands And watches the ships that go sailing.

"But," Lawrence continues, "I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said that it ['Beyond the Sea'] was in terms of two men. I think I just wanted to tell a romantic story." Lawrence adds that he never stressed gender when writing a lyric. "Unless you're writing like Noel Coward did when he wrote 'Mad About the Boy'--and he went to town on that one--you're writing songs for public consumption, and you try to make them as general in story as possible," says Lawrence.

Lawrence's new memoir, They All Sang My Songs: The Times of My Life (Barricade Books, $27.95), details his remarkable life and a songwriting career that began in 1932. He wrote the lyrics for such classics as "Tenderly," the romantic Rosemary Clooney hit, and the faintly campy "If I Didn't Care" (for which he wrote the music as well), recorded by the Ink Spots--plus a host of other songs performed by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Billie Holiday.

But "Beyond the Sea" remains one of the most enduring songs of Lawrence's vast catalog. It's been included on the soundtracks of films as diverse as Finding Nemo, Apollo 13, and Diner. "It's played all over the world," remarks a bemused Lawrence. …

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