Forty-four thousand people will
pack the Alamodome for tonight’s NCAA Championship and nearly
50 million people across the country will watch the game aired on
television. But, unlike the ending of other sporting events, people
in attendance won’t leave their seats and those at home
won’t flip the channel. Players, coaches and fans across the
country have stayed tune for a teary-eyed goodbye to March Madness
since CBS starting airing a post-game montage in 1987 featuring the
song, “One Shining Moment.” Its composer, David
Barrett, is an Ann Arbor resident and lifetime Michigan fan.
Barrett is currently at the Final Four, but took time to discuss
the song’s history and significance with The Michigan
The Michigan Daily: How did you come to write the
David Barrett: Fact is, it’s a long story, as most
songs are. The short version is that I was performing in a club and
sat down and was talking to a waitress about how wonderful
basketball is because I was watching ESPN highlights of Larry Bird.
And she wasn’t much interested, but I thought, “Well,
there’s an idea for a song” and next day, sat down and
wrote it in 20 minutes waiting for a friend of mine to show up.
TMD: How did it get to CBS?
DB: My friend, Armen Keteyian, who now works at CBS, but
at the time worked at Sports Illustrated. And I just happened to
send it to him, not with the intention that he’d take it
anywhere. But fortunately for me, he did. He took it to all the
networks, all of which called me, but I chose CBS … The guy from
CBS was a wonderful guy and I liked him.
TMD: Was the song specific to college basketball, is that
why you chose CBS?
DB: No, I just chose it because I liked (the guy that
called from CBS) and it seemed like a better deal for me —
and he was gracious and understanding about what I was doing. It
was a good fit.
TMD: What was it like the first time you heard it on
DB: It was like being hit by lightning.
TMD: How did it change your life?
DB: It changed my life in every possible way — not
only with the song becoming something I never could have dreamed
of, but it led to many other doors to open as a composer of scores,
songs for a variety of purposes; to just writing songs, to writing
songs for the Olympics or writing songs for the PGA or writing
songs for PBS specials, it definitely opened the door.
TMD: What are you doing at the Final Four this year? Do
you always go?
DB: No, I don’t, but I’m taking my family
this year. I wanted them to experience what this is, which I
recommend to anybody. It is an amazing, wonderful event and my
family had never done it, so I decided to take them to it.
TMD: Do people know who you are down there?
DB: I think it’s fair to say it’s an area in
the world that people know who I am and know what I do, yes.
TMD: So do people stop you and ask for autographs?
DB: Well last year they did, but this year I’m
going more incognito.
TMD: How did you end up living in Ann Arbor?
DB: Well, as one that has done a variety of different
jobs as a musician and a writer and a composer, I realized that,
with the advent of digital, you can make great recordings no matter
where you are. And I lived in Chicago, spent endless months and
weeks in Nashville and New York and L.A., and frankly, didn’t
care for them. And I’m raising a family and I realized if you
aren’t in New York, they don’t care where you are. You
may as well be in Ames, Iowa. My wife and I have family here, we
love Ann Arbor, so it made sense for us as a family decision, and I
can do my work no matter where I am.
TMD: Are you a big Michigan fan?
DB: I am.
TMD: What are your thoughts on a jingle for
Michigan’s NIT Championship?
DB: Well, I’ll see if the muse strikes me, but I
think those kids, even better off, would be to hold out the
prospects of hearing “One Shining Moment” next
TMD: Who do you like winning the whole thing?
[Editor’s note: interview conducted prior to
DB: I think you have four equal teams, and I’m
pulling for Duke because I’m a big fan of Mike Krzyzewski.
But in watching all the teams play, it really boils down to who
gets hot. It’s sad if you have a powerhouse, and midgets
around them. You have four very equal teams in talent. I went to
the NCAA salute dinner and all four coaches spoke and they are all
class acts. That’s why these programs get here. And having
said that, in my judgment, Tommy Amaker is part of that classy
cloth that these guys are cut from. So whether it be next year or
the year after, Michigan is going to be there soon.
TMD: Have you gotten to know a lot of people in
basketball through the song?
DB: Yeah, I know Coach K, and to call him a friend
— Coach K has more friends than (former President Jimmy)
Carter has liver pills. But I took my daughter up to meet him
yesterday, and I’d seen him at another event at the beginning
of the season and we were talking and he said, “Well,
it’s going to be an interesting year.” And I was
kidding with him last night because it was a very interesting year
for Duke, so I know some of them — Tom Izzo, some of these
coaches. And the coaches know the song, for heaven’s
TMD: How are you going to experience “One Shining
Moment” this year?
DB: Well, they show the montage on the big screen in the
building, and everyone stays and watches. So I’ll be standing
right there, watching what they are doing this year.
TMD: What do you think about CBS doing things with the
montage, like making the ball streak with the use of a
DB: I’m not in a position to decide what they do,
but they’ve asked me and I’ve voiced being more of a
purist. I like the action (of game footage) to keep your interest,
because it will do it by itself without all the bells and whistles.
That’s my opinion. I think they are moving away from the
bells and whistles and back toward just letting play speak for
TMD: What is your favorite moment in NCAA Tournament
history — the “One Shining Moment” if you
DB: I would say there are two of them. I would say
(Indiana guard) Keith Smart’s shot in ’87, which was
the first year they played it. Again, here I am at some bar with
some friends, going, “Oh yeah, I heard it is going to be on
here soon,” and it turned out to become what it has become.
So that was an amazing moment. And when Michigan won in ’89
— that was terrific. And I will add one more. When Mateen
Cleaves broke down and bawled like a baby while watching it at the
game — that was pretty amazing … He was in the building
when they played it on the floor, and he and Izzo broke down with
joy. And to be part of that is pretty amazing.