Al Jean: When [Simpsons co-creators] Sam [Simon] and Matt Groening told us the idea for [season one episode “Moaning Lisa”], they wanted Lisa to feel sad and then meet a jazz/blues musician. He plays at a spot called the Jazz Hole, but he also sings the blues. So, we thought, Lisa has the blues in the episode, and it would be funny and appropriate, since Yeardley [Smith, voice of Lisa] has a great voice, for her to sing the “Moaning Lisa Blues.” It was just a little song about the plot of the episode, “I got a bratty brother who bugs me every day,” etc.
John Boylan: The first person to call was [Geffen Records’] David Geffen. He pulled me into a meeting with Eric Eisner, and they asked me to do the Simpsons project.
Al Jean: Very early, I think in the first season airing, [with] how big it was, they got the album offer.
John Boylan: Absolutely [I was a fan of The Simpsons]. I had known James Brooks for quite a while, since Terms of Endearment. I was peripherally involved with that movie as a music consultant, not on record or anything. I had been friendly with Jim Brooks, and I think he’s a wonderful filmmaker. Probably what happened was, and I have no proof of this, but Geffen gave him a short list of record producers and I was the only one on the list that Brooks knew.
Al Jean: Then, Jim [James L.] Brooks had an offer to do the album when the show was such a success. He said, “We should have them sing the blues, like they do in that song.” So, we got to expand the song and put it on the album. And, through the expansion, a bunch of other people got the credit in addition to us. [Laughs.] Welcome to the music business!
Bill Merryfield: I knew I was going to do the album from the very beginning because the creative director told me I was going to do be doing it. That sort of thing is what I did at Geffen Records. I just knew that I was going to do it.