Music is everywhere. It fills up the time on long car rides. We hum along to songs while shopping for groceries. The soundtrack we hear over the course of a movie is vital to the telling of the story. 

When thinking about the songs you love, you likely associate the hit song with the famous performer who sings it. In many cases, the person who performs the song collaborated with others to create the tune or didn’t write the song at all. 

Dean Pitchford is a songwriter from Honolulu, Hawaii. The songs that are part of his notable catalog continue to hold their popularity years after their initial release. 

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Pitchford’s songwriting career evolved somewhat by chance. When he was young and in college, he was writing poetry, pieces that a friend of his recognized could be song lyrics if they were more concise, Pitchford told Fox News Digital in a Zoom interview. 

A monumental moment in Pitchford’s career came with the 1980 movie “Fame.” In 1981, Pitchford and Michael Gore won an Oscar for the movie’s title song. Interestingly, neither Gore nor Pitchford were hired to write songs for the movie from the start. 

“Michael [Gore] was hired to be the music supervisor, which meant that he was supposed to collect a bunch of songs or ballet music or string quartet pieces, or whatever, that could be played throughout the movie in the classrooms at the high school of performing arts,” Pitchford told Fox News Digital. “But as a budding songwriter, he wanted to put a couple of his songs into contention too. So, we were writing songs, not having any guarantee that they would go in.”

Three songs that Pitchford and Gore co-wrote ended up in the film — “Fame,” “Red Light” and the movie’s finale song, “I Sing the Body Electric.” 

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When Pitchford was working on “I Sing the Body Electric,” he spent weeks researching and putting himself in the mind of Bruno, a high school student and songwriter in the movie.

The story of how this hit song came to be shows that inspiration can come to songwriters at any place, any time. Ideas don’t always flow during a planned songwriting session. A simple walk to a friend’s dinner party on a day that seemed completely ordinary could turn out to be a monumental day that is never forgotten. 

Three weeks of spending hours brainstorming and working all came to fruition for Pitchford on a random day walking to a friend’s house. 

When he was in the middle of a crosswalk one evening on Columbus Avenue in New York City, he recalled a line from Walt Whitman’s poem, “I Sing the Body Electric.”

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“I continued on to my dinner party. My friend opened the door. I said, ‘I need a piece of paper and a pencil.’ And I went into the bathroom, I sat down on the floor, I closed the lid of the toilet, I put the paper on the toilet cover and I wrote the entire first verse right up to, ‘And in time, and in time we will all be stars,’” Pitchford recalled. 

After winning the Oscar for “Fame,” Pitchford’s life continued to change with more opportunities.  

Another significant moment in Pitchford’s career was the creation of the movie “Footloose.” 

Pitchford’s experience working on “Footloose” was uniquely different than “Fame.”

By the time he began “Footloose,” Pitchford told Fox News Digital he knew he wanted to write a movie and put his songs in it. Early ideas for the movie weren’t intriguing to Pitchford, but a story he saw in a newspaper provided him with the inspiration he needed to write the script and songs. 

“One day I was in San Francisco over a weekend. I opened the newspaper, and I saw a little tiny item about a town in Oklahoma called Elmore City, Oklahoma, which, after 88 years, had finally repealed their ban on dancing. And the high school class was having its first prom in 88 years,” Pitchford explained. “I thought, ‘There’s some place where music is unexpected.'”

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Pitchford revealed to Fox News Digital that none of the songs were written in advance of the movie’s filming. But after the project got the green light, he was able to sit down with his collaborators — Kenny Loggins, Tom Snow, Eric Carmen, Jim Steinman, Bill Wolfer, Sammy Hagar and Gore — to compose the soundtrack for the film. 

Many of the songs that were part of this memorable soundtrack have lived on far beyond the movie. 

“Holding Out for a Hero,” for example, has been included in numerous movies, commercials and video games after it was originally released for “Footloose.” 

Along with the movie soundtracks Pitchford has worked on, he has also been the co-writer of many songs recorded by distinguished performers. 

For songwriters who are not performers themselves, other artists have become the vessel for which their songs are heard by the masses. 

Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston are two examples of prominent singers who have recorded his music. Parton covered the song “Don’t Call It Love” in 1985, a song written by Pitchford and Snow. Houston covered the song “All the Man That I Need” in 1990, a piece written by Pitchford and Gore. 

For Pitchford, having others sing his songs has been a great joy, something he considers a “win win.” 

“I’m so happy that other people have loved and sung my songs. And, to be honest, they’ve all done them much better than I could,” Pitchford said. “The great thing is, they may have to go on tour, but I get to sit home and watch ‘Jeopardy.’ 

“I just get the greatest kick out of it,” Pitchford said. “Whether or not it’s seeing the videos or walking into a drugstore, and hearing ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’ on the stereo. Or, in a restaurant, ‘Holding Out for a Hero’ comes on, I get a little swell of pride. I’m also really glad that those people sang those songs the way they did.”

In 2024, Pitchford has a new honor to add to his long list of accomplishments as one of the newest inductees to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.