The Brill Building, located at 1619 Broadway in Manhattan, was home to the publishing firm of Aldon Music. Aldon Music, formed by Don Kirshner and Al Nevins, was dedicated to creating songs focused on the teenager, but with the musical sophistication and professionalism of Tin Pan Alley.
Songwriting teams from the Brill Building were the most prolific of the rock & roll era. Teams such as Goffin and King, Greenfield and Sedaka, and Mann and Weil focused songs on teenage experiences with lyrics that were believable, romantic and melodramatic, while the music was a simple melodic voice.
As the teen market faded in 1965, the Brill Building songwriters began looking for more meaningful ways of songwriting and began to feel their demos were often better than those produced by the studio artists the record labels provided. Historically, there was very deep divide between the songwriter and the recording artist, and it was the writers from the Brill Building who first bridged that divide, becoming the first singer-songwriters.
Post-Brill Building music was heavily influenced by traditional folk music, which used lyrics as a narrative to describe any situation or experience. During the late 60s and early 70s, the narrative lyric was applied to the simple melodic line of the Brill Building songs. In the tradition of folk, these songs were easily learned and passed orally from protest marches to street corners.
The music introduced between 1965 and 1975 was both domestic and international. In America, James Brown introduced Soul Music with "Say It Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud," an anthem dedicated to African-American pride. Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys brought the lilt of West Coast "surf sound" to the mainstream. And the American Blues began influencing another society, this time overseas: British musicians like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards who, as part of the "British Invasion," created a blues-based sound heavily dependent on the electric guitar with the now-standard bass beat.
However, it was the combination of two contrasting styles that defined this era and the contemporary singer-songwriter. Bob Dylan and the Beatles' Paul McCartney and John Lennon had already been established as distinctive songwriters and powerful performers. In a period of corruption, war and racial division, they used their words and music to define turbulent political and cultural issues. The fusion of Dylan's traditional folk narrative and the McCartney-Lennon melodic rock sound created folk rock, which remains synonymous with the term singer-songwriter.