Didn’t We


Didn’t We (Jimmy Webb)

Although the copyright of the song is dated 1967 at the Database of Popular Music, Jimmy Webb has indicated that the song was included in a high school musical presented during his senior class assembly. If we accept the information and dates given in the following Webb quotes from various interviews as accurate, then a version of the song was most likely performed in the high school musical sometime in the spring of 1964.

From an interview with Jimmy Webb conducted by Tom Nondorf, published at Playbill.com on 8 August 2009:

Q: Were you influenced by show music in your songwriting?

Webb: Oh yeah. When I was in high school, I did the high school musical that you hear so much about. Our senior assembly was a musical that I wrote. One of the songs in it was “Didn’t We?” When I was doing my two years of half-heartedly majoring in music at San Bernardino Valley College in California, I wrote another show called Dancing Girl. [There is] something about those blue and red theatre lights that make that pink color that gets my blood racing.

The quote to follow indicates that Webb spent his senior high school year at a school in Colton, California. Sure enough, the name “Jimmy Webb” is among the 20 names included in the CHS Class of 1964 Alumni List at coltonhigh.org.

From an interview with Jimmy Webb conducted by Terry Gross for the NPR program Fresh Air, dated 10 February 2004:

GROSS: Now your family moved to Southern California, to San Bernardino, in 1964 [actually in 1963, as his response suggests]. Did your father get a church there?

WEBB: Yes, he was pastoring in Colton, and I finished my high school in Colton. I graduated as a senior from Colton High School. It was the year that JFK was assassinated…

Webb confirms that the move to Southern California occurred in 1963 in a piece by Calvin Gilbert titled “Jimmy Webb Revisits His Past With Just Across the River,” published at CMT.com on 18 February 2011, featuring an interview with the songwriter.

I got out there in the summer of the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys were wafting from every suburban window that was open. That kind of very gentle summer…1963.

Jimmy Webb-young-2If Webb and his family moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 1963, and his final year in high school began that fall, in the year that JFK was assassinated, then the senior assembly featuring a musical he had written, which included the song “Didn’t We,” presumably occurred in the spring of 1964. Webb, born 15 August 1946, was then 17 years old.

However, in his 1999 book Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting, Webb says, on the first page of “Chapter Two: In This Room You’ll Never Make a Mistake,”

While in college, I had written my first musical–a sophomoric attempt called Dancing Girl-which contained a passable ballad entitled “Didn’t We?” The theatre arts department at the small college I had attended declined to produce the musical–a disaster for me since I had written the show instead of taking my midterms.

Dancing Girl was the musical he was working on during the “two years of half-heartedly majoring in music at San Bernardino Valley College,” a period that presumably began in the fall of 1964 after he graduated from Colton High School. So in this quote from Tunesmith, in referring to Dancing Girl as his first musical and one that contained the song “Didn’t We,” he conveniently ignores the 1964 high school musical that he’d written (according the 2009 Nondorf article cited above), and the fact that “Didn’t We” had been included in that earlier work.

1968 A Tramp Shining-Richard Harris, Dunhill DS 50032 (1a)

Richard Harris — from the album A Tramp Shining, (US) Dunhill DS 50032, released in April 1968; released in the UK in 1968 as RCA Victor ‎SF-7947; also issued in the US, in April 1968, as the B-side of “MacArthur Park” on the single Dunhill D-4134 (also Dunhill 45-4134, 45-D-4134)

Wikipedia says:

A Tramp Shining is the debut album of Richard Harris, released in 1968 by Dunhill Records. The album was written, arranged, and produced by singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb. Although Harris sang several numbers on the soundtrack album to the film musical Camelot the previous year, A Tramp Shining was Harris’ first solo album. “MacArthur Park” was one of the biggest singles of that year, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. The album as a whole was also highly successful, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Album of the Year” in 1969.[1]

From a Jimmy Webb interview conducted by Dave Simpson, and published in The Guardian (theguardian.com) under the title “How We Made MacArthur Park,” on 11 November 2013:

Bones Howe, a fellow producer, had asked me to create a pop song with classical elements, different movements and changing time signatures. MacArthur Park, more of a suite than a song, was everything he wanted, but when we presented it to his new act, the Association, they refused to record it. It was the late 1960s and I was doing music for an anti-war pageant with some 1968 Didn't We-Richard Harris-B-side of 45-D-4134Hollywood stars, including Mia Farrow and Edgar G Robinson. Richard Harris and I started hanging out after rehearsals and drinking Black Velvets: 50% Guinness, 50% champagne. One night after a few, I said: “We ought to make a record.” He’d starred in the movie Camelot and sang every song in it beautifully. A few weeks later, I received a telegram: “Dear Jimmy Webb. Come to London. Make this record. Love, Richard.” He always called me Jimmy Webb.

I got a flight and stayed with Richard in Belgravia. Over the course of two days, we tore through 30 or 40 of my songs. I was playing the piano and singing. He was standing there in his kaftan, waving his arms and expressing excitement at some songs, not so crazy about others. The best went into his debut album, A Tramp Shining.

(below) from the album


Des O’Connor — from the 1968 album I Pretend, (UK) Columbia ‎ SCX 6295


Lorez Alexandria — title song from the 1968 album Pzazz Records LP-320


Frank Sinatra — recorded in Hollywood on 18 February 1969, and released in 1969 on the album My Way, (US) Reprise Records FS 1029 (also 1029); music arranged and orchestra conducted by Don Costa


Glen Campbell — from the 1969 album Live, Capitol Records STBO – 268; recorded in concert on 4 July 1969 at the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ


Glen Campbell — from The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, Season 2, Episode 4 — airdate: 15 October 1969


Thelma Houston — from her 1969 album SunshowerABC/Dunhill Records ‎DS 50054

From a Songfacts interview with Jimmy Webb, conducted by Dan McIntosh on 16 May 2011

I had been working in the studio with Johnny Rivers and Mark Gordon co-producing, and I was just kind of a gopher. I went around and did everything. I did rhythm parts for my songs. But I had a good friend in Marty Paich, and he was teaching me the basics – I guess you would say the fundamentals of orchestration. And finally when we got in to do Magic Garden with Bones Howe that was the first album that I was ever given complete freedom to do my own orchestration.

And it turned out great. And the next album was the Thelma Houston album, Sun Shower [sic], which has some of the most fantastic orchestrations I’ve ever done. I don’t know whether I’ve ever really gotten up to that level again. But, I mean, it was just something that I was doing. It was learning on the job, but at a fantastic rate.

Sunshower playlist at YouTube


Andy Williams — from his 1969 album Happy Heart, Columbia ‎CS 9844


1970 Brother Jug!-Gene Ammons-Prestige PR 77921970 Didn't We-Gene Ammons- (B-side) Prestige 45-734

Gene Ammons Quintet — recorded on 11 November 1969 at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ; released on the 1970 Gene Ammons LP Brother Jug!, Prestige PR 7792 (PRST 7792) — A shorter version was released in September 1970 on the single Prestige 45-734, as the B-side of “Son of a Preacher Man.” The note on the single label (above right), “Taken from PRST 7792,” suggests that it’s an edit of the album track, which is about 2 1/2 minutes longer.

personnel: Gene Ammons (tenor sax) Sonny Phillips (organ) Billy Butler (guitar) Bob Bushnell (electric bass) Bernard Purdie (drums)


1969 Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet (A Time For Us)-Johnny Mathis-Columbia CS 9909-back

Johnny Mathis — from the 1969 LP Love Theme From “Romeo And Juliet” (A Time For Us), Columbia CS 9909


1969 Didn't We- Stan Getz-Verve Records V6-8780-1a1969 Didn't We- Stan Getz-Verve Records V6-8780 (back)-1a

Stan Getz — from the 1969 album Didn’t We, Verve V6-8780, recorded, according to jazzdisco.org, September-October 1969


1970_Presenting Cissy Houston_back_1_f36

Cissy Houston — from the 1970 album Cissy Houston, Janus Records ‎JLS 3001; the recording was also issued in 1972 on the single Janus J 190, b/w “It’s Not Easy” (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) — Each track on the album features an arrangement by Bert DeCoteaux.


J. Vincent Edwards — from his 1970 album Thanks, (Germany, Netherlands) CBS S 64036


Ray Price — from the 1970 album You Wouldn’t Know Love, Columbia ‎CS 9918


The Friends of Distinction, lead vocal: Barbara Jean Love —  from the 1970 LP Whatever, (US) RCA Victor ‎LSP-4408


Frank Sinatra — from the CBS television special Frank Sinatra: In Concert at the Royal Festival Hall, filmed at the Royal Festival Hall, London, 16 November 1970; originally broadcast on 4 February 1971


Irene Reid — from the 1970 album The World Needs What I Need, Polydor ‎24-4040; a shorter version was issued in February 1971 on the single Polydor ‎PD 2-14057, b/w “Hi-De-Ho” (45cat, Discogs)


Dionne Warwick — from the 1970 album I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, Scepter Records SPS 581


1971 Dorothy Squires Live At The London Palladium Sunday December 6th 1970, (UK) President Records PTLS 1043,4

Dorothy Squires — from the 1971 album At the London Palladium, (UK) Decca DBC 9/10, and (UK) President Records PTLS 1043/4 — recorded live at the London Palladium on 6 December 1970


Barbra Streisand —  This promotional video contains a portion of Streisand’s performance of the song taped on 5 February 1971 for an episode of The David Frost Show. However, according to the 1970-79 timeline at the Barbra Streisand Archives Library, and to Barbara herself in the interview that precedes the clip, the episode never aired.


Jimmy Webb — live at the BBC, possibly on the Old Grey Whistle Test TV program, 1971

Photographs, evidently from this appearance, published at Getty Images and elsewhere are said to have been taken during the taping of an episode of The Old Grey Whistle Test, and are dated 28 June 1971. However, I’ve been unable to confirm that date. Episode guides from the program, such as the one at tv.com, indicate that the first episode of season 1 of the program aired on 21 September 1971.


Art Farmer — from the 1972 album Gentle Eyes, (US) Mainstream Records MRL 371 — recorded by Art Farmer with the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corp.) Orchestra, in Vienna, Austria, in 1972


Jimmy Webb — from the 1996 album Ten Easy Pieces (Guardian Records)



Jimmy Webb biographies:

song links:





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