Adventures in Songwriting with Paul Williams

SXSW Panel Reviews

Ballroom Dancing
Photo by John Anderson

Adventures in Songwriting with Paul Williams

Austin Convention Center, Wednesday, March 14

When he wasn't on the couch next to Johnny Carson or cutting up with Chuck Barris on The Gong Show, Paul Williams was penning pop classics like "Rainy Days and Mondays" and "The Rainbow Connection," songs that taught kids the meaning of melancholy before they learned to spell it. Stephen Kessler, director of the new Williams documentary, Still Alive, was one such kid. Kessler's panel interview with Williams was a journey through the songwriting kingpin's career that alternated between entertaining anecdotes and song snippets. Williams related how his big break came when "God Only Knows" lyricist Tony Asher broke his hand skiing and recommended Williams to write a bank commercial that became "We've Only Just Begun." Now 22 years sober, Williams discussed songwriting as therapeutic self-discovery. "There's this unconscious connection to our inner struggles that kind of shows up in my songs," he revealed. While the audience getting to sing The Love Boat theme with the man who wrote it was a hoot, the interview's most poignant moment came when Williams sang "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday" from The Muppet Movie. "There was never a moment with Jim Henson where he said, 'Write for children,'" Williams said. "I don't write for men, women, or children. I write for people."

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

More Paul Williams
Can't Touch This
Can't Touch This
South by Southwest Music panels remain as star-studded as actual showcases

Raoul Hernandez, March 2, 2012

More Music Reviews
SXSW Wednesday Record Reviews
Can You Deal? (Record Review)

Abby Johnston, March 17, 2017

SXSW Saturday Record Reviews
The Shelters
The Shelters (Record Review)

Tim Stegall, March 17, 2017

More by Greg Beets
SXSW Music: Must-See Pop
SXSW Music: Must-See Pop
Power-pop, French pop, mellow pop, electro pop – so many pops to choose from!

March 17, 2017

SXSW Wednesday Record Reviews
Hot Thoughts (Record Review)

March 17, 2017


Paul Williams, Williams, Paul

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)