Grammy Week: Songwriters Behind Eminem, Bonnie Raitt, Adele, More Step Into the Spotlight at 'A Song Is Born'

Musician Kris Kristofferson (L) and singer Bonnie Rait attend 'A Song Is Born' 16th Annual GRAMMY Foundation Legacy Concert - Arrivals at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre on January 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodrigo Vaz/FilmMagic)

Songs, specifically the ones that become smash hits, were the focal point of the Grammy Foundation's "A Song is Born" program on Jan. 23. Seventeen artists, most of them writers rather than interpreters, performed an astounding number of Top 40 tunes, Grammy winners and beloved tracks.

Initially billed as a 90-minute concert, the four-hour show at the Wilshire Ebell Theater had numerous highlights. Bonnie Raitt thanked the writers of "I Can't Make You Love Me," Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin, who demonstrated the original uptempo honky tonk version of the song that sounded like a polka. Kris Kristofferson, who griped that 77 is a tough age, silenced the crowd with a chilling rendition of "For the Good Times." JD Souther, the country-rock oracle, gathered Dan Wilson (Grammy winner for his Dixie Chicks and Adele songs), Joy Williams (Grammy winner for Civil Wars) and the night's band leader, guitarist Waddy Wachtel, for a harmony rich rendition of the hit he co-wrote with the Eagles, "New Kid in Town."

(L-R) Musicians Skylar Grey, John Rzeznik and Gavin DeGraw perform at the 'A Song Is Born' 16th Annual GRAMMY Foundation Legacy Concert held at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre on January 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

And Paul Williams, humorous as always, performed what he called a once in a lifetime medley of two themes -- "Evergreen" and "The Love Boat" -- before delivering a touching version of "The Rainbow Connection."

"Their voice is our voice, but more clear," Grammy Foundation senior VP Kristen Madsen said about songwriters early in the the night's program. "Their truth is our truth, but more fierce."

Musician Dan Wilson attends the 'A Song Is Born' 16th Annual GRAMMY Foundation Legacy Concert held at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre on January 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

The audience went home with an assortment of odd pieces of trivia. "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" is Otis Redding's observation about the ferries going from Oakland to Sausalito and not ships in San Francisco, co-writer Steve Cropper said. "Up, Up and Away" met some resistance at radio, especially in Jimmy Webb's hometown of Oklahoma City, because programmers thought it was about drugs. Prior to writing the Eminem-Rihanna hit "Love the Way You Lie," Skylar Grey made money by editing porn.

Setlist

Jeff Barry
Medley: "Do Wah DDiddy"/"Da Doo Ron Ron"/"Leader of the Pack"/"Sugar, Sugar"/"Chapel of Love"
"Be My Baby"
"Hanky Panky"
"I Honestly Love You"
"River Deep Mountain High" (sung by Ryan Shaw)

Maybe April (Grammy Camp attendees)
"Loving You Still"

Paul Williams
Medley: "Evergreen"/"The Love Boat"
"Rainbow Connection"

Jimmy Webb
"Up, Up and Away"
"Wichita Lineman"
"The Highwayman"

JD Souther
"Only Lonely"

Dan Wilson
"Not Ready to Make Nice"

JD Souther and Joy Williams
"Faithless Love"

Souther, Wilson and Williams
"New Kid in Town"

Dan Wilson
"Someone Like You"

Johnny Rzeznik
"Name"
"Come to Me"

Gavin DeGraw
"Not Over You"

Skylar Grey
"Love the Way You Lie"

Rzeznik, Gray and DeGraw
"Iris"

Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin
"Everywhere"
"The House That Built Me"

Bonnie Raitt
"I Can't Make You Love Me"
"Nick of Time"

Kris Kristofferson
"Me and Bobby McGee"
"Help Me Make It Through the Night"
"For the Good Times"

Steve Cropper and Gavin DeGraw
"In the Midnight Hour"
"(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay"

Valerie Simpson
"I'm Every Woman"
"You're All I Need to Get By" (with Ryan Shaw)
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"