John Boylan: You gotta remember this was highly collaborative and it was under tremendous pressure. The Simpsons were at the top of the zeitgeist at the time. I think they were selling something like 250,000 Bart T-shirts a week. It was just ridiculous. And, of course, all the right-wing people were getting mad at The Simpsons. It was the talk of the country at that time. David wanted to get the album out ASAP. At one point, I was collaborating with Geffen Records and Fox and Gracie Films all were involved with it. A guy named Matt Walden was the guy at Fox. Of course, I dealt with Jim Brooks, Richard Sakai at Gracie Films, and The Simpsons characters. Geffen Records [was] mostly dealing with Eric Eisner, Al Coury, and Eddie Rosenblatt. We were trying to keep that all together.
David wanted to get it out that year because his distribution was going to change over from Warner to Universal from ’90 to ’91, and he promised Warner he would get the record out before the changeover happened so they could sell a bunch of records. It had to come out before Christmas, so at one point we had two studios going to try to get the thing done.
Brooks and everybody thought it would be great to be a blues album. The writers got involved to come up with title ideas. I wrote a couple things. Brooks wanted to come in and write something about the sibling rivalry between Lisa and Bart, so I came up with the idea of Homer singing “Born Under a Bad Sign,” and we just started to have blues ideas. Even Mr. Burns has things to complain about, and it fit.
Al Jean: Jeff Martin, who was a great songwriter, wrote a song with Sam called “Look At All Those Idiots,” a Mr. Burns song that did make the album, which was really funny.
John Boylan: Brooks was really the creative. Everything came through him. He had a couple of directives. He said, “First of all, we have to have wit.” And he didn’t mean baggy-pants comedy. He meant wit. Smart funny stuff. The second thing, “It must be character-driven from The Simpsons’ characters.” Of course Matt Groening loved that, since he had created the characters, and he got into it and co-wrote something too.