Though Previte hadn’t talked to Ienner in two years, the former head of Millenium Records was suddenly in his ear with a way back into the industry. “He goes, I’ve got this little movie, I want you to think about writing a song for it,” Previte recalls. Though he thought the offer was a dead end, Ienner insisted. “Make time, this is going to change your life.” When Previte heard the movie’s title, Ienner reassured him of the movie’s credentials, gave him a general description of the plot, and explained the parameters: The song needed to fill seven minutes and be ready in two weeks. “I’m like, Oh my god, I’ve got to write ‘MacArthur Park,’” Previte says.
But with just $100 in his bank account, Previte had nothing to lose. He called John DeNicola, a musician he’d written with before, and asked him to compose a backtrack. Previte explained the movie (“Baby meets Johnny in the Catskills”) and offered some structural notes: The chorus would begin at half-speed, he told DeNicola, and the verses would switch to double-time to become an upbeat dance tune. With those details, DeNicola called up Donald Markowitz for assistance. The two had collaborated before, and Markowitz was one of the few people he knew who had an eight-track sequencing machine. Inside his one-bedroom Upper West Side apartment, Markowitz took DeNicola’s notes and “wrote the music to it in 20 minutes,” Markowitz says. The next day, theybegan to tweak and record. “We went in there with a drum machine and bass guitar and a couple of keyboards [and] pounded out some music,” DeNicola says.