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Guitarist, producer, and musicians’ advocate, talks of his career and Jewish inspirations

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Eddie Schwartz has been a hit-maker in the Canadian and International music scene since 1980. (Photo: Supplied)

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Question – What do Pat Benatar, Paul Carrack, Joe Cocker, Rita Coolidge, the Doobie Brothers, Peter Frampton, Lawrence Gowan, Martina McBride, Meatloaf, Robert Palmer, Carly Simon, and Donna Sommer all have in common?

Answer – They recorded hit songs, all written or co-written by Eddie Schwartz. 

Since the late 1970s, Edward Sydney Schwartz has had over 200 songs recorded and performed.

(Shout out to Dr. Martin Schwartz, my friend and his cousin, for the introduction.)

Born in Toronto on December 22, 1949 to Gordon and Miriam (née Friedman) Schwartz, and now living in Nashville, Eddie Schwartz is probably best known for writing Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot, an 80s hit that is featured in the TONY-nominated Broadway and Off Broadway production, Rock of Ages

“In the late 1900s, most of my creative peers left Toronto, mostly for Los Angeles,” he said. “I was struggling creatively and financially with a young family to support but received an offer from a Nashville music publisher in 1997 which I accepted.  There I found a vibrant and welcoming music creator community with lots of opportunities for a songwriter with a track record.  My kids grew up there and as a family we have deep ties to Nashville, but my wife Joanne and I split the warmer months back in Toronto and in Muskoka, Ontario cottage country.”

Any favourite performers?  “I loved working with Lawrence Gowan in the early 90’s who is an enormous talent as a writer and a performer, but for the most part, I write for myself.  I am very hard to please and very hard on myself creatively.  I rely on my music publisher colleagues to get the songs I write to artists and producers,” Schwartz told me.

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According to the Songwriters Association of Canada, Schwartz “has received multiple Juno, BMI (renamed PRO CAN) and SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) awards including PRO CANADA’s prestigious William Harold Moon Award for lifetime achievement.  His songs can be found in millions of games, dozens of movies and television shows and his career sales exceed 65 million units.”

Schwartz’ career began after graduating from York University as a Music and English major in 1976. He played guitar for Charity Brown’s backing band and in 1979 signed a solo contract with Infinity Records. His self-titled debut album, Schwartz was released in 1980, which included his first Canadian hit Does A Fool Ever Learn.

The award winning artist has four albums with 20 top singles in the US and Canada.  “Special Girl and All Our Tomorrows in the early 1980s, have become Canadian classics,” reports songwriters.ca.

From Toronto to Nashville: Eddie Schwartz has created legendary music for four decades (Photo: Supplied)

“I write both lyrics and music, and my lyrics in particular have been influenced by my Jewish heritage,” he explains, citing an example of a hit song from 2003.

“Some years ago, Amy Sky and I co-wrote a song called Everything Love Is.  The bridge lyric is very much derived from the Passover Haggadah.  Since we are both Jewish, and the rest of the lyrics in that song owe a great deal to an early Jewish devotee to the teaching of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, Saul of Tarsus, aka St. Paul.”  He has also co-written with Sky’s talented husband Marc Jordan, and all remain friends.

Over the years, Schwartz has been influenced by many artists and songwriters who have come from many different religious and cultural backgrounds, “but two other Jewish music creators, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan are certainly at the top of my list. I think the poetry and parables of the Torah, and singing as a central shared expression of our beliefs and experiences as a people, profoundly influenced me from an early age. The understanding of how powerful these elements can be when music reinforces the narrative of a lyric, has been a huge influence on me,” he explained. 

Schwartz became increasingly involved in advocacy for creators’ rights and copyright in the early 2000s.  Active in various music industry organizations, he has been a board member of PRO CAN, SOCAN, CARAS (Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences). In 2007-2008 and “was simultaneously president of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Association of Canada” which he helped found.

In 2010, he was elected Vice President and then became the first North American-based President of the International Council of Music Creators in Paris with over 500,000 music creator members on five continents. Schwartz was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2012.

Looking ahead, Schwartz said, “Making music for a living has never been for the faint of heart, and the challenges facing creators today are more daunting than ever.  The good news is that the power of music and creativity sustain us in other ways, and profoundly so.”

He concluded, “Making music has kept me alive in the multiple means of that word and for that I am deeply grateful.  I am happy to expect that it will continue to do so for some time.”

David Eisenstadt is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com, the Canadian Partner of IPREX Global Communication.  He is a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary. 

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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