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SWING! Excerpt: Royal Crown Revue

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Eddie NicholsR/S: You’ve written some of Royal Crown’s songs?

EDDIE NICHOLS: Uh-huh. And some music, but not all of it. I can’t take credit for this: the reason why our band’s gotten so much better is because we’ve got a very good horn arranger in the band now, Bill Ungerman. If it’s one of my songs, I’ll tell him my ideas and he has to arrange it. This is something I regret: I can hear the music in my head, but I don’t have the skill to write it down. If I had f*****’ three weeks or a month to start learning how to do it, fine, but I don’t have the time right now. Sometimes when I try to explain, musicians don’t get it because they’re thinking in proper terms and I’m thinking: “Boo-bop-a-doo-bop.” [laughs]

You know why “standards” are great and why they still last? I realized that a lot of my early songs were very wordy with a lot of consonants. Old songs are so great because they’re all written around vowels. Like “I’ve got the world on a string . . .” You know what I’m saying? That’s why they were great and great to sing.

R/S: I never knew that—

EN: Yeah, it’s something to think about. They were words that were singable and said something. When I first started writing I would think, “Goddamn, these songs are so hard to sing!” And it was because I had 50 f*****’ syllables in the words.

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