What’s it like to record with robots? “They were really amazingly easy to work with,” says the veteran songwriter and current ASCAP president of the breathlessly hyped French electronic duo.
At five-foot-two, musician-actor Paul Williams is admittedly a diminutive presence. But professionally, the songwriter behind “We’ve Only Just Begun,” The Muppet Movie’s “Rainbow Connection,” and even The Love Boat’s theme song is a bona-fide titan. (Upon receiving an Oscar for Best Original Song — for 1976’s A Star Is Born theme “Evergreen” — he famously quipped alongside its star Barbra Streisand, “I was going to thank the little people.”)
His rich legacy was not lost on French electronic duo Daft Punk, who recruited the 72-year-old to contribute lyrics and vocals to “Touch” and “Beyond,” two tracks on their breathlessly hyped No. 1 album Random Access Memories. The Hollywood Reporter called Williams, who can now be found advocating songwriters’ intellectual property as president of ASCAP (or, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), to talk to him about his unexpected career turn and his pivotal role in shaping Daft Punk’s comeback.