By Randy Patterson,

If you were an aspiring songwriter, would your dream include launching your career by writing music for a movie whose main characters are a washed-up fighter and a beer drinking orangutan? Probably not. More about that in a moment.

Steve Dorff is the antithesis of that norm. A well-known, much sought-after but low-key and very successful songwriter, he was inducted into the prestigious Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in New York City in 2018 and is a three-time Grammy nominee, as well as a six-time Emmy nominee. He has racked up an astonishing 40 Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) awards as a result from his hits his songs recorded by such stellar artists as Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, Ann Murray, Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers, Garth Brooks, George Strait, and many others. Additionally, he has written for TV, movies, and musical theater.

Steve is also an author, having written a fascinating book about his life titled I Wrote That One, Too… A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney. If you like reading the backstories behind popular songs, you will want this book in your personal library.

I recently interviewed Steve about his career, his book, and what is on the horizon for him. I started off by asking him if, before he got his big break, he ever imagined that it would involve writing the music for the movie Every Which Way But Loose (hinted at in the first paragraph and sung by Eddie Rabbitt).

“No, I can’t honestly say it did,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to write the perfect song for the perfect artist for the perfect movie. When those come along, you go for it. And fortunately, I’ve been asked to do that several times in my career, and it’s been a good thing.”

When asked if he feels that an aspiring songwriter today could experience the same kind of career-launching luck, Steve said, “Yeah, I do. I think it’s always about, for me, two things: It’s serendipity and being at the right place at the right time, which is sometimes luck, sometimes manifest destiny. In my case, I kind of willed certain things to happen, or I tried to put myself in the position where something like that could happen. I think those opportunities are still there for young writers to break through.”

When one looks over Steve’s career and body of work, the word “diversity” immediately comes to mind. I asked him about that.

“It’s a great question,” he said. “I think diversity is the perfect word for the arc of my career. When I started, I never wanted to be an artist. I always tell people that when you hear me sing a couple of my hits, you’ll know why you never heard me on the radio. But, for me, it was always about wanting to write for great voices. As a kid, I’d watch shows like Shindig! and Hullabaloo and Where the Action Is and see people like Tom Jones and the Righteous Brothers and Petula Clark and Engelbert Humperdinck – all these great artists – and, for me, it was about wanting to write a song for these people to sing. Somehow, I got to do that.”

Steve continued, “I’ve had more than 400 and something songs recorded by artists from everywhere from Willie to Whitney, literally, and that’s the title of my book. Dolly Parton, Eddie Arnold, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, and Kenny Rogers – it’s been crazy.”

Then, with a twinkle in his eye, Steve concluded, “For me, the most fun is in talking with some of my friends. Someone else mentioned a name like Larry Corbett and Sugarloaf, and I go, ‘Yeah, they cut one of my songs.’ It’s crazy.”

I had read where diversified singer-songwriter Paul Williams is a friend of Steve’s and heard that Paul gave him some wise advice. I asked him about that.

“Paul was pretty much a pure lyricist. He did some music, but he was always looking for composers to write with. We had lunch one day, and he said something I’ll never forget. I wrote about it in my book. I was asking him, ‘How did you get this recorded, and how did you get it to the Carpenters?’ He said, ‘Look, a writer is always going to be his own best publisher. No one else – an agent or a manager or publisher, they don’t have their heart in the creation of the song like the composer or the songwriter does.’ I’ve always taken that to heart, and I’ve always pretty much stayed very active and busy.”

You can watch this very interesting interview with Steve Dorff in its entirety at, where he talks about the “mini orchestra in his head” that has been chronicling his life since childhood, his admiration for many of his recording artists’ like BJ Thomas (who sang the theme song for the TV show Growing Pains, among other music written by Steve), and the importance of finding your “signature” voice. You can order his book, I Wrote That One, Too… A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney, on or wherever great books are sold.