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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER JOE RAPOSO
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Golden boy of American composers


Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud, sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad
Sing of happy, not sad
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple
To last your whole life long
Don't worry that it's not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Joe Raposo wrote those words, along with their music, on a January morning in New York City, about 10 years ago. "It was," he recalls, "as succinctly and as economically and precisely as I could embody a philosophy of life in a song. 'Sing' is my philosophy of life, period. … I remember leaving the studio and walking up Sixth Avenue saying, 'If that isn't a hit song, I know absolutely nothing about it.'"

The boyish, roly-poly, 40-year-old songwriter, whose incredibly crowded career has included the writing of five movie scores and more than 350 songs recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett and Tom Jones, was right about "Sing." When Karen Carpenter's single went platinum in 1974, that was only the beginning.

"It's one of the most recorded songs in the world," says Joe. "I think there are something like 180 versions of it, in just about every major language. … Lawrence Welk recently did this hit parade of songs of the decade, and the number one song of the decade was 'Sing.'"

We're riding in a limousine along Fifth Avenue. Joe has requested to be interviewed while he attends to some gift shopping. Because of a temporary leg injury, he has hired a limousine for the afternoon. As we go from store to store, Joe greets the merchants by name, then answers questions into a tape recorder while waiting for his merchandise.

Long noted for his musical versatility, Raposo grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, the only child of a classical musician father and a piano playing mother. "I learned counterpoint at the age of 6 or so by wandering around the concert hall as my father rehearsed Mozart." His parents taught him piano, violin and bass viol. At Harvard University he began to write and direct his own musicals. Soon after moving to New York City in 1966, he had all the work he could handle as musical director, composer and lyricist for both television and the stage. He is the recipient of three Emmy Awards and an Oscar nomination. As a record producer, he has won four Grammy Awards.

"It's Not Easy Bein' Green," one of many songs he wrote for the Sesame Street TV show, has become the international anthem for the Girl Scouts of Ame............
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