SOCAN 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award winners Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance have spent more than 35 years co-writing some of the most successful songs in pop/rock music history. Adams, one of Canada’s greatest musical success stories, has sold many millions of records, toured the world, won 20 JUNO Awards, and earned multiple nominations for Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards. He’s been inducted into the Order of Canada, and received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award. And after several years apart, he and Vallance are still at it, having co-written another stellar pop single in last year’s “You Belong to Me,” and currently collaborating on a Broadway musical. For all that, it’s telling that the first thing Adams said onstage to accept his SOCAN Award – after seeing four videos interspersed throughout the gala to celebrate the astonishing career of himself and Vallance – was, jokingly, “What a load of shite!” To him, songwriting, while thoroughly enjoyable, is just what he does. SOCAN spoke briefly with Adams backstage at the SOCAN Awards; here’s a record of that chat.
W&M: How did you and Jim Vallance come up with “You Belong to Me”?
Bryan Adams: A friend of mine is a [movie] director in L.A. He was doing a pilot for a TV series, and he wanted songs that sounded like songs out of the ’60s. So we wrote a couple of songs, and that was one of ’em. The song happened; the TV series didn’t.
W&M: Can you tell us about the musical that you’re working on with Vallance now?
Adams: It’s probably about 30 songs that we’ve written for it, of which probably 22 will end up in the musical. It’s a musical adaptation of the film Pretty Woman, and it doesn’t feature any of the songs from the original film. It’s all new music, because it’s all about the narrative, the songs telling the story of Vivian and Edward.
W&M: You guys are getting an award for 35 years of working together, but here you both are, writing together again, with another mountain to climb, another goal.
Adams: I don’t think of it that way. I’ve always continued on my little journey. When Jim retired, I just kept finding ways to be creative, and that’s what it’s about. It’s about finding creative things to do. I love the experience of creating something from nothing.
W&M: Can you tell us the story of first meeting Jim Vallance in a Long & McQuade musical instrument retail outlet in Vancouver?
W&M: According to Jim Vallance, you guys have spent 100,000 hours writing songs. In 1984, you spent 12 hours a day, seven days a week co-writing. You seem to have been so ambitious and determined.
Adams: It’s not like that. That’s complete rubbish! It’s just what I do. I get up and I write music. It’s not like I get up and go to the office. It’s really a pleasure to go to work every day.