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WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY

Writing The Music Of Dewey Cox
Key to the story of a legend and his music is, of course, the music itself. Developing the songs also proved to be an eye-opening experience for the filmmakers. "The funniest thing to me is that the music in the movie is really good,” says Apatow. "Sure, all the songs are slightly off, slightly wrong, but it's all great-sounding music. I think that's part of what makes the movie fun – you can get into it, even though it's ridiculous.”

Early on, Apatow and Kasdan considered the kinds of songs that would comprise the Dewey Cox canon. The songs had to span seven decades of musical styles, be familiar and catchy enough that they could conceivably have existed, and funny enough to support the comedy in the movie. 

"We needed good songs that were funny within the context of the movie,” notes Kasdan. "Some would be jokey, some less so. For the purposes of the movie, we didn't want the comedy to be dependent on listening to the lyrical content of the song line for line. It had to be funny within a sequence.”

Apatow and Kasdan came up with scraps of musical ideas and integrated them into the screenplay, content to flesh out the music later with a phalanx of talented songwriters and musicians.

"We wrote song ideas into the script,” says Apatow. "We knew we needed a ‘Walk Hard' song. We knew we needed a ‘Guilty As Charged' song. We knew we needed a love song to his wife, like ‘A Life Without You.' We had the ideas for the songs, but we were not sure about how we would get them written.”

Even though both Kasdan and Apatow were big music fans, neither had progressed past Guitar 101 as far as their own musicianship. Kasdan had written a few songs for his film Zero Effect, but neither he nor Apatow had the chops when it came to strumming the six-string.

"We both play really mediocre, adolescent, Jewish-boy-who-loved-Bob-Dylan, campfire-type guitar,” says Kasdan. "We both knew only the same six chords.”

First on board was Michael Andrews, a longtime collaborator of both Kasdan's and Apatow's, having composed the scores for Kasdan's The TV Set and Orange County as well as for episodes of Apatow's series "Undeclared” and "Freaks and Geeks.” In fact, "Mike Andrews was the first person we enlisted,” says Apatow. "We knew he would be composing the score and supervising all of the songwriting with us as well as writing songs himself. We cast a wide net and a lot of cool people sent in versions right away.”

"Producing Dewey Cox was right in my zone,” says Andrews. "Working with great friends and collaborating with brilliant songwriters, hilarious comedy writers, and a talent like John C. Reilly – these were unforgettable times. Dewey Cox's entire career, built from my favorite parts of musical history, was recorded in one year." 

With Andrews supervising, several artists weighed in on Cox's sound, and two, songwriters Dan Bern and Mike Viola, tapped into the fountain of inspiration that is the entirely fake career of Dewey Cox. "Mike Viola had done the music for That Thing You Do and was a performing artist himself, as was Dan Bern. We put them together and they started writing,” remembers Apatow.

By the time they were done, the two had written almost all the songs in the film. Viola contributed "(I Hate You) Big Daddy,” "A Life Without You (Is No Life At All),” and "Darling” (the last co-written with John C. Reilly), while Bern wrote "Farmer Glickstein,” "Royal Jelly,” and "(Have You Heard the News) Dewey Cox Died.” The two shared songwriting duties on "Hole in My Pants,” "Dear Mr. President” and the movie's lilting swan song, "Beautiful Ride.” Bern also collaborated with Andrews on the songs "There's a Change a'Happenin'” and "Hey Mr. Old Guy.”

Among the other respected songwriters who contributed material was the legendary Van Dyke Parks, who had collaborated wi

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