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Brill Building

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Landmark of American popular music
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"You could write a song on the third floor and find a publisher on the fourth and run to the lobby and find musicians and singers and take them up to the fifth floor and cut your record and then walk through the entire building to try and sell the proof to the numerous people that made 1619 their home."
-- songwriter Joe Somsky, testifying before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1986

For much of its life, the ten-story Brill Building (built in 1930) has been filled with music publishers, songwriters, singers, band leaders and music agents. Particularly during the 1950s and 1960s, this factory of popular song was home to so many leading songwriters--such as Burt Bacharach and Hal David -- that the pop style that emerged was termed the "Brill Building sound."

In 1986 the building was reviewed for designation by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, but the Commission never voted. At issue was what history actually happened at the Brill Building such as: did Johnny Marks compose "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in the building or on the sidewalk out front? The Brill Building's owners oppose landmarks designation, and have compiled several lists of events that did not happen there, songs that were not written there, and such statistics. Still, for many people, the Brill Building is the mother ship of American popular music -- in myth if not in reality.