Excerpts from an August 23, 2001 phone conversation with Margo Guryan
Q: Tell me about writing songs for Claudine Longet.
A: Claudine Longet is the only artist that I ever wrote a tailor-made song for. With all my other songs, people ask me if I wrote them for different artists. I never did. I just wrote what I felt like writing. But Tommy LiPuma called David [Rosner, her husband/publisher] one day, and said "Can Margo write a song for Claudine? A Christmas song. No snow, no mistletoe, no presents under the tree. No mention of any of that stuff." So David asked me, and I wrote "I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You." As I was finishing the demo, there was a guy from UPS or some air-freight company standing in the studio, waiting for it. I was putting on a last vocal, and then they had to go out and make an acetate of it. They flew it to California, and she recorded it. Later, the group Saint Étienne heard it on Claudine's record, and they recorded it a year ago last Christmas for their fan club. It wasn't released commercially, but it was like the Christmas card they sent out to their fan club. And I've got a copy of that.
Q: Did you ever meet her?
A: I never met Claudine. I never met Cass [Elliot, who also recorded a Guryan song]. I wish I had met her. I wish I had met them both, actually.
Q: What did you think of Claudine's versions of "Think of Rain" and "I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You"?
A: Well, obviously, I was very pleased that she did both of them. I was less than pleased with the Christmas song, because she didn't get the time right. But that may not have been her fault as much as the producer's. But ehh, I'd have to go through it, send you a lead sheet and show you where. It's not worth it. Just say I loved it.
Q: OK. [laugh]
A: It's a time thing. She's a little bit rhythmically challenged. But the combination of the way she looked and her sweetness...she was very charming, and just amazingly beautiful. And the French thing. Do you notice that with those very light-voiced women, they're mostly foreign? Like Claudine had the French thing, and Astrud [Gilberto] had the Brazilian thing. And then there's Jane Birkin, who was British. I keep getting compared to all these people, but I don't know if there's really another American who turned out as wispy as I was. And you can hear from my speaking voice that I'm not like [fakes a breathy voice] Marilyn or Jackie Kennedy. I don't believe they talked like that, either. People who talk that way really have to work at it, not to let their full voices come out. I think that's generally an affectation. I don't think it was with Claudine or Astrud, but I don't know their speaking voices so I can't really tell.
Q: Did you like any of the other Longet tracks?
A: Yes, I did and I don't remember what they were. I think I have a couple of her albums. I know I have the one with my stuff on it. That's the one in that big chair [The Look of Love]. I may have two of them, and I parted with one for Linus because he wanted it so desperately.