Browse by Title
V W X Y Z #  

Tom Keifer of Cinderella
Cinderella was a blues-rock band trapped in the glam metal era. Much like their princess namesake, the group had more working class musical values than their sparkly attire let on.

Hit songs like "Nobody's Fool" revealed a soulful lead singer in Tom Keifer, who in 2013 released the solo album, The Way Life Goes. Keifer can sound like a raspy Steven Tyler one minute (particularly during "Nobody's Fool") and a soul-stirring revivalist – in the Rod Stewart model – the next.

His band, Cinderella, was always a bit deeper than many of his makeup-caked contemporaries back in the '80s. A song like "Shelter Me," for example, reached for real, sincere emotion, instead of the glossy one-night-stand romance music so annoyingly prevalent at the time.

Because Cinderella's music contained such unusual depth, it was a pleasure to go a little deeper into the songwriting process with Tom Keifer.
Tom Keifer of Cinderella
Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): When you look back over your time with Cinderella, what would you say you're most proud of?

Tom Keifer: Patting myself on the back has not been something I've been real good about. I'm always trying to move forward. I think, honestly - and this may sound crazy - I think since the years have passed, and the first three Cinderella records kind of settled in and I got far away from them and was able to really look back at those songs, I think that was when I was first able to hear them for what they really were, and there are some songs that I can say I'm proud of and are really well written. But when you're in the throes of it, it's hard to really look at it that way. It usually takes a bit of time for me to appreciate anything I've worked on because I'm so close to it working on it.

Songfacts: Did you always want to do original music, as opposed to doing other people's songs?

Tom: Well, I started out playing covers from the time I was in high school, and I played in countless cover bands. There was that point where I thought, 'You know, I'd like to make a record.' And you look at your heroes, the people you look up to, like The Stones or Zeppelin, and you go, 'Why do they get to make records?' It's because they have their own songs. And you're gonna need that before you get an opportunity to make a record. So that's when I started trying my hand at writing.

Songfacts: You've had a number of very successful songs. Do you know when you've written a hit?

Tom: I don't think anybody, like A&R people or producers, can recognize something that will be a hit or be more successful, one song over another. But when I'm writing a song, I'm just trying to write the best song I can write. It's hard to predict at that stage what song's a hit. I know it after they are a hit, but before then, who knows? You're just writing the best song you can write.

Songfacts: I would think a song like "Shelter Me" was one that you knew would resonate with people. Did you have a sense before it came out that people were going to say, "I really feel that song!"

Tom: Well, I certainly liked it. When I wrote it, it was one of my favorites and still is one of my favorites. Sometimes, that's all you have to go by is your own personal taste. I've certainly tried to stay true to the music that I love, and when I'm writing a song, I always say that you're making records, first and foremost, for yourself; for the love of making music that you love, that you play, that you like to sing. From that point, you hope that other people like it.

Songfacts: How is it different making solo music, from making music with the band? Did you take a different approach to writing songs for The Way Life Goes, or was it just a natural extension of what you've always done?

Tom: I pretty much approached it the way I always have. I've always approached writing the same way. That is, I've always tried to let the song come to me or be inspired by something. It's never, like, sitting down to write a song today at 3 o'clock and I'm going to finish it. It doesn't work that way for me and it's more like an idea can pop into my head anywhere. I can be out driving down the road or flying on an airplane. Anywhere. Something just starts to play in my head, a lyric and a melody. At that point I'm usually racing for an instrument to try to work out what I hear in my head and build around it.
Cinderella formed in Philadelphia in 1985. Tom says the name came from the movie Cinderella - not the Disney film, but a 1977 "erotic fairytale" he and the band's bass player Eric Brittingham saw on cable.

Songfacts: What's the strangest instrument you've written a song on?

Tom: I don't think I have written one on a strange instrument.

Songfacts: So, no ukulele songs?

Tom: No. Usually, it's just guitar, electric guitar or acoustic, or piano is usually what I write on, depending on what I'm hearing.

Songfacts: When you recorded the solo album, were there any things you wanted to do sonically that might separate it from your role as a band leader? Did you want to try to do some different sounds than maybe you've done in the past?

Tom: Trying to get the sound of this record was the hardest part, I would say. It was a struggle, it was a mixing process. Honestly, I wasn't trying to go for anything all that crazy or special. I was really trying to get it to be really raw and in-your-face and dry. And I find a lot of mix engineers are resistant. They want to play with all the toys and the effects and stuff, and I always like that in-your-face sound. That was probably the hardest aspect of the record; was trying to get the whole thing mixed – that big, fat, natural sound. Keep it organic and not processed.

Songfacts: Was that a reaction to what you'd done in the past, or is that just what you were feeling when you went to create this music?

Tom Keifer of CinderellaTom: Well, certainly the first two Cinderella records [Night Songs, 1986; Long Cold Winter, 1988] were much too processed than I would have liked them to be. That was really the sound of the times and pretty much any engineer you walked into a studio with was going to be going for the big, exploding snare drums and more of a slick and processed sound. We were pretty green to the whole recording arts and experience of the studio at that time, so we were just along for the ride at that point. But there was a point, particularly on Heartbreak Station [1990], where I realized we were happy just to hear a quality production recording on the first record because our demos were so bad that they didn't even register. It was just, like, "Wow, this sounds better than anything we've ever done." So we didn't think about it.

Then with Long Cold Winter, we started to think about it more. We started to have more organic instruments - pianos and acoustics. We toned down the slickness or the processing a little bit, although that record's still pretty slick. But by the time we got to Heartbreak Station, there was a conscious decision - and a reaction maybe - to the first two records and saying, "Well, as good as they were, that sound isn't really for me. I want something a little more organic and real sounding." And we purposely produced Heartbreak Station that way.

Songfacts: I'm wondering about the song, "Nobody's Fool." Did you draw on any experiences where you might have been somebody's fool in order to create the mood of that song?

Tom: That song, that's something I think everyone can relate to. In life there is the falling in love, and then there's the falling out of love. There are songs for both experiences, and "Nobody's Fool" is certainly the song for the falling out of love experience. And I would say that was not written for any one particular person. I'd been through that several times prior to writing that song. A lot of times, the emotions of songs are cumulative. That's not one particular experience, but the culmination of many.

Songfacts: Did you ever write a song that did apply to specific people and specific circumstances?

Tom: Yeah. I can't think of any of them off the top of my head. Most of the time, for me, the emotions are more cumulative or an average of a lifetime. But also, a lot of it is observation because we all share a lot of the same experiences, so a lot of it is watching what friends or family or people you know are going through, too.

Songfacts: Do you think that might be one of the keys to the popularity of your music: you sing about shared experiences, so it's easy for listeners to relate?

Tom: Well, certainly there's a connection for people when a lyric is something they relate to. I'm sure some songs I write, people relate to more than others. Probably ones we call hits, right?

June 25, 2013. More at

Comments: 1

Tom K has always been a favorite. Saw Cinderella in concert when i was 16, they opened for Bon Jovi in Columbus, OH. I was going for Bon Jovi but I wound up buying the Cinderella T-shirt and album. They were excellent live. Very exciting. Way better than the headliner, and Jon Bon Jovi climbed up a scaffolding with the American flag tied on as a cape. Cinderella were musically better and I have liked Tom K ever since that concert. I enjoy the fact he likes to keep it real. Hope he keeps writing.
-Charmin from Kentucky

Where are you from?
Your Comment
 security code

Tony Hiller and Brotherhood of ManTony Hiller and Brotherhood of Man
The man behind Brotherhood of Man is one of the most prolific and successful songwriters in the UK.
Steel MagnoliaSteel Magnolia
Joshua Scott Jones explains why he's always asking forgiveness from his musical partner, who's also his girlfriend.
Sarah BrightmanSarah Brightman
One of the most popular classical vocalists in the land is lining up a trip to space, which is the inspiration for many of her songs.
Julian LennonJulian Lennon
Julian tells the stories behind his hits "Valotte" and "Too Late for Goodbyes," and fills us in on his many non-musical pursuits. Also: what MTV meant to his career.

Search in Songwriter Interviews
Songwriter Interviews titles
Aaron Beam of Red Fang
Aaron Gillespie
Aaron Lewis
Adam Duritz of Counting Crows
Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne
Adam Young of Owl City
Al Anderson of NRBQ
Al Jourgensen of Ministry
Al Kooper
Alan Merrill of The Arrows
Alex Call (867-5309)
Allee Willis: Boogie Wonderland, Friends theme
Amanda Palmer
Amy Grant
Andy McClusky of OMD
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash
Angelo Moore of Fishbone
Ann Hampton Callaway
Anna Canoni about Woody Guthrie
Annie Haslam of Renaissance
Anthony Raneri of Bayside
Antigone Rising
Art Alexakis of Everclear
Asher Roth
Badi Assad
Bart Millard of MercyMe
Becca Stevens
Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl
Benny Mardones
Biff Byford of Saxon
Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers
Bill Withers
Billy Gould of Faith No More
Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Montana ("More Than A Memory" - Garth Brooks)
Billy Steinberg
Bo Bice
Bob Daisley
Bobby Liebling of Pentagram
Bobby Whitlock
Boz Scaggs
Brad Arnold from 3 Doors Down
Brad Smith of Blind Melon
Brandi Carlile
Brandon Heath
Brenda Russell
Brian "Head" Welch of Korn, Love and Death
Bronze Radio Return
Bruce Robison
Bryan Adams
Butch Vig
Buzz Osborne of the Melvins
Carol Kaye
Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)
Chad Urmston of Dispatch
Chan Kinchla of Blues Traveler
Charles Fox
Charlie Benante of Anthrax
Charlie Daniels
Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go's
Chris August
Chris Fehn of Slipknot
Chris Isaak
Chris Knight
Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes
Chris Squire of Yes
Chris Tomlin
Chris Willis
Chris Wilson of The Flamin' Groovies
Christopher Cross
Chuck Billy of Testament
Cody Hanson of Hinder
Colbie Caillat
Corey Hart
Craig Goldy of Dio
Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets
Cy Curnin of The Fixx
Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay
Dan Reed
Daniel Moore ("Shambala," "My Maria")
Danko Jones
Danny Kortchmar
Dar Williams
Darren King of MUTEMATH
Darryl Worley
Dave Clark
Dave Innis of Restless Heart
Dave Mason
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave Stewart of Eurythmics
Dave Wakeling of The English Beat
Dean Pitchford
Denny Randell
Desmond Child
Devin Townsend
Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)
Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Coal Chamber
Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper/Lou Reed)
Dino Cazares of Fear Factory
Don Brewer of Grand Funk
Don Felder
Donald Fagen
Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)
Dr. John
Dropkick Murphys
dUg Pinnick of King's X
Duncan Phillips of Newsboys
Dwight Twilley
Eddie Carswell of NewSong
Eddie Reeves
Edwin McCain
El Sloan of Crossfade
Elvin Bishop
Emilio Castillo from Tower of Power
Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls
Emmylou Harris
Eric Burdon
Eric Kretz of Stone Temple Pilots
Francesca Battistelli
Francis Rossi of Status Quo
Gary Brooker of Procol Harum
Gary Lewis
Gary Louris of The Jayhawks
Gary Numan
Gentle Giant
Georgia Middleman of Blue Sky Riders
Gilby Clarke
Glen Burtnik
Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket
Gordon Bahary
Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)
Graham Parker
Graham Russell of Air Supply
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Greg Puciato of Killer Be Killed and Dillinger Escape Plan
Gretchen Peters (Independence Day)
Guy Clark
Gym Class Heroes
Hal Ketchum
Harold Brown of War
Harry Shearer
Hayes Carll
Henry McCullough
Henry Paul of The Outlaws, Blackhawk
Holly Knight
Holly Williams
Howard Bellamy
Howard Jones
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"
Ian Astbury of The Cult
Ian Thornley of Big Wreck
Ingrid Croce
J.D. Souther
Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees
Jake Owen
James Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges
Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
Jamie O'Neal
Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go`s
Janis Ian
Jann Klose
Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup
Jason Michael Carroll
Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)
Jason Reeves
Jason Roy of Building 429
Jay Graydon
Jeff Walker of Carcass
Jello Biafra
Jeph Howard of The Used
Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada
Jess Origliasso of The Veronicas
Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms
Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds
Jimbeau Hinson
Jimmy Jam
Jimmy Webb
JJ Burnel of The Stranglers
Jo Dee Messina
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard
Joe Ely
Joe Grushecky
Joe Jackson
Joe King Carrasco
Joe Rickard of Red
Joel Crouse
Joey + Rory
Joey Burns of Calexico
John Doe of X
John Gallagher of Raven
John Lee Hooker
John Oates
John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls
John Waite
John Wheeler of Hayseed Dixie
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde
Johnny Winter
Jon Anderson of Yes
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot
Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Jon Tiven
Josh Kelley
Josh Shilling
Josh Thompson
Judas Priest
Julian Lennon
Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues
Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Meat Loaf)
Keith Morris of Black Flag and OFF!
Keith Reid of Procol Harum
Kelvin Swaby of The Heavy
Ken Block of Sister Hazel
Kenneth Nixon of Framing Hanley
Kenny Vance
Kerry Livgren of Kansas
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
Kip Winger
Kirk Franklin
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristine W
Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
Larry Burnett of Firefall
Larry Wiegand of Crow
Laura Bell Bundy
Lee Ranaldo
Les Claypool
Leslie West of Mountain
Lindi Ortega
Lisa Loeb
Lita Ford
Little Big Town
Lori McKenna
Loudon Wainwright III
Louie Perez of Los Lobos
Lukas Nelson
Mac Powell of Third Day
Marc Roberge of O.A.R. (Of A Revolution)
Marcy Playground
Maria Muldaur
Maria Neckam
Mark Arm of Mudhoney
Marshall Crenshaw
Martin Gordon
Martin Page
Martin Smith of Delirous?
Martyn Ware of Heaven 17
Marvin Etzioni of Lone Justice
Mary Gauthier
Mat Kearney
Matt Pike of High On Fire
Matt Pryor of Get Up Kids
Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon
Matt Sorum
Matt Thiessen of Relient K
Matthew West
Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)
Meshell Ndegeocello
Mia Doi Todd
Michael Bolton
Michael Franti
Michael Gilbert of Flotsam and Jetsam
Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
Michael Schenker
Michael Sweet of Stryper
Michael W. Smith
Mick Jones of Foreigner
Mike Campbell
Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North
Mike Love of The Beach Boys
Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies
Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater
Miles Doughty of Slightly Stoopid
Millie Jackson
Mitch Myers about Shel Silverstein
Mitts of Madball
Mountain Heart
Neil Fallon of Clutch
Neil Giraldo
Nick Van Eede from Cutting Crew
Nick Waterhouse
Nick Wheeler of The All-American Rejects
Nina Persson of The Cardigans
Nona Hendryx
Oliver Leiber
Our Lady Peace
Pam Tillis
Pat Alger ("The Thunder Rolls", "Unanswered Prayers")
Paul Dean of Loverboy
Paul Evans
Paul Williams
Pegi Young
Penny Ford of Snap!
Pete Anderson
Peter Lord
Petula Clark
Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")
Philip Cody
Queensrÿche founder Geoff Tate
Radney Foster
Ralph Casale - Session Pro
Randy Goodrum (Oh Sherrie)
Randy Houser
Randy Montana
Randy Newman
Randy Sharp (From Glen Campbell to Edgar Winter)
Randy Stonehill
Rebecca St. James
Reverend Horton Heat
Rhonda Vincent
Richard Hell
Richard Marx
Richard Patrick of Filter
Richie McDonald of Lonestar
Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)
Rick Finch
Rick Springfield
Rick Wartell of Trouble
Rik Emmett of Triumph
Robert Ellis
Roger Clyne
Rosanne Cash
Rupert Hine
Ryan Star
Sam Phillips
Sandy Chapin
Sarah Brightman
Scorpions Rudolf Schenker
Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders
Scott Jason of Thriving Ivory
Scott Stapp
Scotty Emerick (Beer For My Horses)
Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities
Serena Ryder
Seth Swirsky
Shane Volk of One Bad Son
Shaun Morgan of Seether
Shawn Smith of Brad
Shelby Lynne
Skip Ewing ("Love, Me," "The Gospel According To Luke")
Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D.
Speech of Arrested Development
Spooner Oldham
Squeeze: Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford
Stan Ridgway
Steel Magnolia
Stephen Christian of Anberlin
Steve "Zetro" Souza of Exodus and Hatriot
Steve Azar
Steve Hindalong of The Choir
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai
Sum 41
Sunny Sweeney
Supertramp founder Roger Hodgson
Tanita Tikaram
Taylor Dayne
Terry Cashman
Terry Jacks ("Seasons in the Sun")
Terry Taylor of Daniel Amos and Lost Dogs
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
The Dandy Warhols
The Fratellis
The Limousines
They Might Be Giants
Thomas Dolby
Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs
Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles
Tina Shafer
Tobin Esperance of Papa Roach
Toby Lightman
Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down and 7dayBinge
Tom Gabel of Against Me!
Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers
Tom Keifer of Cinderella
Tommy James
Tommy Lee James ("She's My Kind Of Rain")
Toni Wine
Tonio K
Tony Hiller and Brotherhood of Man
Tony Joe White
Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria
Trent Wagler of The Steel Wheels
Udo Dirkschneider (UDO, ex-Accept)
Van Dyke Parks
Vanessa Carlton
Ville Valo of HIM
Vince Clarke
Vince Gill
Vinny May of Kodaline
Vonda Shepard
Wayne Hussey of The Mission
Wayne Swinny of Saliva
Wednesday 13
Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit and Black Light Burns
Will Jennings
Yael Naim
Yoko Ono
Zac Hanson
Zakk Wylde
Other Songfacts Blogs
Songwriter Interviews
Song Writing
Music Quiz
Fact or Fiction
They're Playing My Song