He might not be Shakespeare, but Steve Forbert's song about fading away from the world in the company of your lover was worthy of the title "Romeo's Tune," which does not appear in the lyrics. Forbert had most of the song written when he recorded his debut album Alive On Arrival
, which was released in 1978. He didn't include it on that album because it didn't fit the theme, which turned out to be a good thing because he was able to refine the song.
The first attempt at recording it was with producer Steve Bergh, and the results were underwhelming. Forbert went on tour and started playing it in clubs, where it got a great reaction. A breakthrough came when his manager suggested that the song needed another verse, so he wrote the part at the end that begins, "Let me see you smiling back at me."
Forbert's next attempt to record the song was in Nashville with producer John Simon, whose credits include "Red Rubber Ball
" by the Cyrkle and The Band album Music From Big Pink
. They liked the results but weren't thrilled with it, so they tried again to record it in New York at CBS Studios (the record company thought the song had hit potential so they were willing to indulge Forbert). This recording wasn't much better than their original demo, so they went back to Nashville and recorded the song yet again, where they finally got the sound they were looking for and had their hit. It took a year and four recording sessions, but Forbert knew that if he didn't capture the right mood on record he wouldn't sound like a modern day Romeo. He told us, "We got it right away. I mean, the first day was like, Right, this is the right band, and this is all happening. When all the musicians came into the room and listened to the playback, everybody said, That's it, that's the version we've been looking for. I think it was the third take that day." (Here's the full interview with Steve Forbert