He’s So Shy

“He’s So Shy” – 1980

Music: Tom Snow

Lyric: Cynthia Weil

Song History: Although the song’s title recalls the girl group classic “He’s So Fine” by the Chiffons, “He’s So Shy” was in fact conceived by its composers as a song for Leo Sayer to record as “She’s So Shy”. The song was pitched to Richard Perry who’d produced Sayer’s biggest hits(“You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”, “When I Need You”) a few years earlier. Perry was no longer working with Sayer but saw the song’s potential as a track for the Pointer Sisters, who’d inaugurated Perry’s own label Planet Records with the 1978 #2 hit “Fire“. Tom played all the synthesizer parts on the record and was backed by legendary Motown drummer James Gadson, Nate Watts on bass, and Tim May on guitar. The lead vocal was provided by sister, June.

Author’s note: This one originated with the music and a working title, “She’s So Shy”. I had been plugging away for weeks trying to find a “Hit” hook. Everything I came up with sounded like derivative, melodic babble. Reduced to desperation one night I went into my studio after dinner and a few glasses of wine, set the Roland 808 to 120 beats per minute and started playing G minor arpeggios on my Prophet 5 synth. At least that was some viable form of music! That did the trick. Not having the pressure anymore of trying to come up with a smash hit the vault opened up and within thirty minutes I had the melody, chord changes and a working title “She’s So Shy”.  I knew immediately that I had come up with something very, very commercial. The feeling was intense. I remember leaving the studio three hours later after playing the tune hundreds of times and feeling like I was walking two inches above the floor. Not taking any chances I called Cynthia the next day and asked her to write the lyric. We both thought the song would be a smash and our instincts were right. “He’s So Shy” sold 1.5 million copies. I will be forever indebted to those G minor arpeggios.

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5 Responses to “He’s So Shy”
  1. Alicia Moseley says:

    Hi Tom

    Congrats on your achievements to date. I’m now reading through your hit songs history and loving the Author’s notes too. Its putting the lyrics into perspective.

    I wanted to ask you if you feel as though you get an almost constant ‘feed’ of songs? I’ve recently started taking my songwriting seriously because I honestly thought that it was as natural to everyone as it has been to me.

    I smiled when I read about ‘having to take a break from all the writing via a holiday in Mexico’ But does the music ever stop coming to you, even if you’re on holiday?

    Also do you collaborate and or work with newbie songwriters?

    Keep up the great work you’ve further inspired my gift.

    All the best,


    • mrneige says:

      Hi Alicia,

      Thank you for your very kind comment. I’m honored to learn that my work has played some part in providing you with inspiration. While I am no longer actively writing I still have music bouncing around my brain, pretty much 24/7. I just don’t act on it anymore. Nowadays I’m fortunate enough to subscribe to the idea of “…never composing anything unless it is a nuisance not to.” (I’m paraphrasing a quote by the French composer, Hector Berlioz.) When I was in the thick of it and competing for cuts the main thing I had to learn was how to be a good re-writer. I found out that writing songs is as much a craft as it is an art. The art came naturally. I had to work hard at the craft. Even Gershwin said it took him two hours to write through the “drek”.

      Thanks for reaching out and all the best to you in your career!


  2. Mark says:

    Dear Tom,

    He’s So Shy has to be one of the very best songs ever written and composed. I have been listening to it for over 30 years and everytime it brings me joy, Such an upbeat song. I as a young teen had a girl ask me to listen to it. She then told me it reminded her of me. She said I was shy and it made her feel attracted to me. That same girl today is my wife of 23 years and the mother of my 3 children 🙂 Thanks for the great songs. You are a legend!!!!



  3. Dave Shbi says:

    That Prophet riff is a classic. Nice work, Tom.

    • mrneige says:

      Hi Dave,

      The riff started out as a G minor arpeggio because I had nothing else I could think of to play. It kind of materialized on its own.

      Whenever I felt creatively blocked I would play nursery rhymes or piano exercises just to make some noise. My nature abhors silence.

      Cheers and thanks again for your kind comment.


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