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Nancy Ames


Nancy Ames is an American singer/songwriter and actress who has appeared in such classic TV shows as The Dean Martin Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Johnny Cash Show, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Tonight Show Staring Johnny Carson; and appeared in each episode of the American version of the BBC satirical show That Was the Week That Was. From 1972 to1977 she hosted her own NBC show, The Nancy Ames Show.


She co-wrote with Mason Williams the theme to the Smothers Brothers Show, and also with Williams wrote the 1960s novelty classic ‘Cinderella Rockefella’, which has been covered by many artists including Jennifer Warnes, but is best remembered as a cover by the husband and wife duo Esther and Abi Ofarim. This version reached number one in Britain, Germany and all over the continent.


She has recorded thirteen albums including The Incredible Nancy Ames, Let It Be Me, A Portrait of Nancy: Folk Songs by Nancy Ames, This Is the Girl that Is and The Versatile Nancy Ames. She performed live concerts throughout the world until 1987.


She and her husband, Danny Ward, co-founded and manage Ward & Ames Special Events, an award-winning full-service special events firm located in Houston, Texas.




Q: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?


A: Yes, both the traditional rhyming forms and free verse styles.


Q: Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?


A: I suppose there's a more accepting audience for rhyming songs because they are easier to remember generally. Some of my favorites do not have predictable rhyming patterns and, therefore, are less marketable.


Q: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can also be like free verse?


A: This is so close to the previous answer, I would only add that as a lyricist and melodist, most often my ideas drive the melody so sometimes there is no need for a standard rhyming scheme, bridges, choruses, refrains or hooks. When these elements do fall easily into the message, however, usually the song is more identifiable and easier for the listener to repeat. While free verse songs are often more interesting, personally, they may require a slightly headier audience.


Q: When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to the music you enjoyed?


A: Yes and no. I was mostly listening to early R & B by black artists and Elvis, and dancing the dirty boogie in the basement so my parents wouldn't catch me!  But the pop songs sung by Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Sinatra et al, then the Beach Boys, First Edition, Turtles, Stones & Beatles, Byrds, Temptations, 4 Tops, Doors and the rest were memorable and a transition from traditional to contemporary poetry.  The Broadway composers of my parents’ generation—through the 60's—were the most talented and clever of the lot and they are the writers I respect most.


Q: Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?


A: If anything, it was recognizing that rhyme patterns could be easily adapted to melody lines.


Q: Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?


A: Because the marriage of words (rhyming or not) to a melody makes for fun in two areas.  It's simply easier to relate to both as a song than words alone—without a melodic guide.