by Gregg Geller, David McGee & Michael Sigman
Day In The Life Of A Fool Frank Sinatra recorded twelve songs
written by Carl Sigman, including this one for his own Reprise label
in 1969: the English lyric version of Luis Bonfas Manha
de Carnival from the classic foreign film Black Orpheus. Jack
Jones had hit the charts with his take on the song in 1966, but Sinatras
Don Costa-arranged rendition remains definitive.
All Too SoonA collaboration with Duke Ellington, recorded
by the Rockin Chair Lady, Mildred Bailey, in 1941
at Decca with legendary producer Milt Gabler; in 1957 Ella Fitzgerald
included it in her Duke Ellington Songbook on Verve. Among the others
who have cut it: Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan,
Answer Me, My Love A German song, Mutterlein,
rendered by Carl Sigman as Answer Me, Lord Above, hit #1
in the UK for Frankie Laine in 1953. The next year, its title and lyrics
altered ever-so slightly by Sigman for still broader appeal, the same
song became a Nelson Riddle-arranged Nat King Cole standard on Capitol
Records, revived by Joni Mitchell in 2000 on her Reprise orchestral
pop album Both Sides Now. Bob Dylan is known to have performed it in
concert circa 1991.
Around The Corner As lead singer of The Drifters and later
as a solo artist, Ben E. King specialized in a kind of urban love song
(Spanish Harlem, et al) of which this 1964 Atco recording
is a prime, if obscure, example. Not so obscure, however, that Mink
DeVille didnt cover it on the 1983 album Where Angels Fear To
Arrivederci, Roma Virtually every Italian-American singer
of note has recorded this title (as have many others, including Abbe
Lane with Tito Puente & His Orchestra!), but rarely is a singer
so perfectly matched with a song as Dean Martin was with this one by
Capitol Records in 1961.
Ballerina A #1 record for baritone-bandleader Vaughn Monroe
in 1947, this number returned to the charts ten years later in a swinging
Nelson Riddle arrangement to become yet another signature song for Nat
King Cole with Capitol. Written with Bob Russell, its sometimes
known as Dance, Ballerina, Dance.
Before Long Long before Hello Dolly and What
A Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong was trying his hand at contemporary
pop material; the recording of this Carl Sigman collaboration with Satchmos
drummer Sid Catlett dates from the very first Louis Armstrong &
His All-Stars RCA Victor studio session in 1947.
Buona Sera Originally written with Peter De Rose as a
conventional love song and recorded as such by Louis Prima on Mercury
in 1950, the King of the Las Vegas lounges then re-cut it in 1956, transforming
it into a tour-de-force display of his inimitable style for Capitol
Records. It was subsequently covered by the English ska revivalists
Bad Manners, who charted with the song in 1981, and, inexplicably, by
dozens of Eastern European rock bands in the years since the fall of
the Berlin Wall.
Busy As A Bee (Im Buzz, Buzz, Buzzin) A classic
big band arrangement by Fletcher Henderson for King of Swing
Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, recorded in late 1939 by Columbia Records.
Vocals by Helen Forrest. Written with Bob Russell and Joseph Meyer.
Careless Hands A strikingly modern sounding #1 smash for
The Velvet Fog, Mel Torme, in 1949, early in his post Mel-Tones
solo career with Capitol Records. This song, written with Bob Hilliard,
also provided a vehicle for Dottie West to extend her long run of country
chart successes at RCA in 1971. Then, a decade later, Jerry Lee Lewis
and his pumpin piano left their indelible mark on the song.
Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo) Carl Sigmans
only stab (partnered with Bob Hilliard) at a Broadway musical, Angel
In The Wings, ran for 308 performances at the Coronet Theatre in 1947-48
and provided Elaine Stritch with this show-stopper in her debut on the
Great White Way; fifty-three years later she reprised the song in the
autobiographical one-woman show At Liberty, preserved for posterity
by DRG Records. But back in 1948 it had topped the charts for Decca
in a romp by comic actor Danny Kaye and The Andrews Sisters.
Come In Out Of The Rain One of three Sigman copyrights
(My Fair Lady and Paint Yourself A Rainbow are
the other two) cut by The King Cole Trio, Nat on piano and vocals, for
Capitol, this 1946 collaboration with Bob Russell was revived in 1959
at Epic Records by singer, pianist and Academy Award- winning actor
Jack Lemmon. Who knew?
Crazy He Calls Me Since its introduction in 1949, the
Decca recording of this Sigman-Russell collaboration by Billie Holiday,
arranged by Gordon Jenkins, has had a profound influence on singers
of every generation and type, from Dinah Washington to Peggy Lee to
Aretha Franklin to Linda Ronstadt. Change its name to Crazy She
Calls Me and find it on Lady Day tribute albums by Sam Cooke and
Dont Ever Be Afraid To Go Home Written with Bob
Hilliard, this swinging title was an unlikely choice of repertoire by
the recently-divorced Frank Sinatra, who included it amongst his final
few recordings for Columbia Records in 1952. Perhaps it was the influence
of his original inspiration, Bing Crosby, who released the song in 1952
Dream Along With Me (Im On My Way To A Star) Recorded
by Perry Como for RCA Victor in 1956, this beautiful song, with words
and music by Carl Sigman, was heard every week for the next seven years
as the theme song of his long-running Saturday night NBC-TV variety
show, where, as the relaxed one noted, very few people ever heard
(it) all the way through. Revived in that perpetually-running
homage to the 50s, the musical Forever Plaid.
Ebb Tide In 1953 British orchestra leader Frank Chacksfield
topped the charts with his arrangement of the haunting Robert Maxwell-composed
melody of this song. Once its Carl Sigman-penned lyric was completed,
the covers came in a flood that has yet to subside. Vic Damone was first
into the top 10 later that same year, followed by the under-appreciated
Roy Hamilton with a #5 R&B smash for Epic the following year. In
1956, it was an essential element of the classic Nelson Riddle-arranged
album Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely on Capitol. The Platters
added it to their string of Mercury hits in 1960 and, in 1965, Phil
Spector produced a majestic version by The Righteous Brothers, which
peaked at #5 for his Philles label. The whole wedding of the tune
to the lyric (or, I should say, of the lyric to the tune) is the most
natural, the best and the easiest Ive ever written, said
Enjoy Yourself (Its Later Than You Think) A top
10 Decca single for Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, with vocals
by Kenny Gardner, in 1950,
this collaboration with lyricist Herb Magidson found new life when 2-Tone
English ska band The Specials revived it in the early 1980s. Its message,
however, is eternal.
Hand Me Down Love Another Carl Sigman-Duke Ellington collaboration,
this one interpreted by English grande dame of vocals Cleo Laine at
a 1957 big band date in London, early in her career.
Hop Scotch Polka (Scotch-Hot) A novelty number cut by
Bob Crosby, Mitch Miller, and Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians,
with vocals by Kenny Gardner, whose 1949 Decca recording of it became
the first big hit for The Richmond Organization, a soon- to- be powerhouse
music publishing company. Promoting the song, Carl Sigman appeared on
the cover of The Cash Box playing (what else?) hop scotch.
How Will I Remember You In 1961, Rosemary Clooney entered
the studio with arranger Nelson Riddle to record Love, a concept album
inspired by their (real life) love affair. This song, included therein,
is crucial to the tale as told in that small masterpiece of the recording
arts, released by Reprise Records in 1963.
I Could Have Told You With a melody by Jimmy Van Heusen
(in between his partnerships with Johnny Burke and Sammy Cahn), Carl
Sigman scored yet another cut by Frank Sinatra, arranged by Nelson Riddle
for Capitol Records in 1953. Esther Phillips gives his lyric a jazzy
R&B reading of a Ray Ellis chart in 1965 on Atlantic Records. Other
noteworthy recordings: Brook Benton and Dinah Washington, separately,
and John Pizzarelli, recently.
If You Could See Me Now Tadd Damerons unusually
complex modern melody makes this the Carl Sigman song of choice for
jazz vocal aficionados of all eras. It provided Sarah Vaughan with her
breakthrough recording for Musicraft in 1946 (in 1998 that single was
inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame) and Mel Torme with a valedictory
of sorts in a 1995 Concord session with Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass.
Other versions of note: Carmen McRae, Billy Eckstine, Natalie Cole and
It Worries Me Yet another Nelson Riddle-arranged recording
by Frank Sinatra from early in his career at Capitol, this one hit the
charts in late 1954. Lyrics by Carl Sigman, in a prime example of his
conversational songwriting style.
Its All In The Game The answer to the question:
which #1 song was co-written by a Vice President of the United States?
Composed by Charles G. Dawes, veep in the Coolidge administration, as
a classical flute piece, with lyrics added by Carl Sigman in 1951. On
the day that he finished the lyric, Sigman learned that Dawes had died
of a heart attack, leading his publisher, Mac Goldman, to quip, Your
lyric must have killed him. This standard-to-be first found its
way to prominence in a prototypic version by Tommy Edwards, which rose
as high as #18 for M-G-M in late 1951. Seven years later, a new recording
in the contemporary doo-wop mode by the same artist for the same label
was top 10 for twelve weeks, topping the charts for six of them. And
then, the deluge. Among its many covers: a supper club soul rendition
that went top 10 R&B for Motowns The Four Tops in 1970; two
Country chart entries, by Tom T. Hall on Mercury and Merle Haggard on
MCA in the 1970s and 80s respectively; a genre-transcending interpretation
by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Van Morrison on his 1979 Warner Bros.
album Into The Music; and many, many more.
Its A Marshmallow World Written with Peter De Rose
in 1949, this seasonal song had settled into the life of a hardy perennial
with covers by such singers as Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Brenda Lee,
Johnny Mathis and sundry others when producer Phil Spector included
it on his immortal 1963 Philles album A Christmas Gift For You in a
stirring vocal turn by Darlene Love. Christmas has never been quite
Crazy Recorded by the versatile singer, composer (he co-wrote
He Aint Heavy, Hes My Brother with Bob Russell),
arranger-producer Bobby Scott at a 1968 Columbia Records session.
A saloon song Sinatra somehow missed.
Its Square, But It Rocks Further proof that Count
Basie & His Orchestra helped lay the groundwork for rock and roll
is to be found in this swinger by the big band, fronted by singer
Helen Humes, for OKeh Records in 1941. For the uninitiated, its
the dance floor thats square, but rocks, according to this Sigman
lyric for a Freddie Slack rhythm number.
Just Remember The first Carl Sigman song to be recorded
was this 1936 collaboration with Johnny Mercer which generated at
least three covers in Great Britain, one by BBC Orchestra leader Henry
Hall, another by Henry Jacques and His Correct Dance Tempo Orchestra
(he was billed on the HMV label as Britains Champion Dancer
of 1934-36) and the lovely rendition by Australian expatriate
singer-violinist Brian Lawrance & His Lansdowne Orchestra, recorded
for Rex Records on March 22, 1938, that kicks off this collection.
Lonely Is The Name A collaboration with German arranger-producer
and orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert, who had recently co-written Strangers
In The Night for Sinatra. Producer Jimmy Bowen gave the song
to Sammy Davis Jr. who cracked the charts with it for Reprise in 1968.
Losing You This dramatic ballad turned out to be the
last (thus far) in a long line of top 10 singles for Little
Miss Dynamite, Brenda Lee, whose 1963 Decca release was produced
by Nashville Sound progenitor Owen Bradley.
Love Lies It was on July 17, 1940, near the beginning
of his time with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra that Frank Sinatra
waxed his first Carl Sigman copyright, for Victor. It was
to swoon for.
Many Times It was only natural that the top new vocalist
of the pre-Rock 1950s would find his way to a Sigman song, this one
written under the nom de plume Jessie Barnes. And it was equally natural
that the recording of that song, by Eddie Fisher for RCA Victor, rose
as high as #4 on the charts in 1953.
My Heart Cries For You In 1950 Guy Mitchell kicked off
a decades worth of Mitch Miller-produced chart success on Columbia
Records with this Carl Sigman-Percy Faith collaboration, which has
gone on to produce similar results for Dinah Washington, Ray Charles,
and Elvis Presley down through the years.
My Mood Is You Lena Horne has recorded this song twice,
first for an album with guitarist Gabor Szabo in 1969 and, more recently,
on the Blue Note album Well Be Together Again, dedicated to
the memory of her close friend, Billy Strayhorn, in 1994. Words and
music by Carl Sigman.
No Range To Ride Anymore As a sideline to his ongoing
career as crooner, trumpeter, and bandleader, Vaughn Monroe developed
an alternate musical persona as a Western balladeer, most famously
with Ghost Riders In The Sky. This 1950 follow-up for
RCA Victor, written in tandem with Peter De Rose, might well serve
as an environmentalists lament today.
Passe Margaret Whiting, daughter of composer Richard
Whiting, included this song among her string of chart records in the
immediate post-WWII period for the new Capitol label.
Pennsylvania 6-5000 The first big Carl Sigman-penned
hit, #5 for Glenn Miller & His Orchestra on Bluebird in 1940.
Its title was the telephone number of the Café Rouge at New
Yorks Hotel Pennsylvania; today it remains that hotels
main switchboard number. And the song continues to be employed in
films and on TV to evoke the era of the 1940s.
Robin Hood Theme song of the popular British and American
TV series of the 1950s was a top 20 UK hit for music publisher (The
Beatles, Elton John) Dick James with Stephen James and his Chums on
Parlophone in 1956, produced by George Martin. Revived with parody
lyrics as Dennis Moore on Monty Pythons Previous
Record in 1972 and, more recently, in a series of radio commercials
in Great Britain.
Shangri La The Ebb Tide team of Sigman and
Maxwell reunited and joined with composer-conductor Matty Malneck
to come up with a song that became a big, brash 1950s-style pop vocal
group hit for The Four Coins on Epic in 1957 and a hushed, introspective,
almost spoken recording for Peggy Lee on her Capitol album In The
Name Of Love in 1964. Also reprised in Forever Plaid, with a definite
nod to the Coins.
Sleepy Shores Question: add a Carl Sigman lyric to the
hit 1971 theme for the BBC-TV series Owen M.D. and what do you get?
Answer: this heavily Four Freshmen (or perhaps Brian Wilson)-influenced
single cut by Ray Conniff and The Singers for Columbia in 1972. Unlikely,
The Day The Rains Came Written with Gilbert Becaud;
a top 20 hit for Jane Morgan on Kapp in 1958. She also cut Arrivederci,
Roma, Its All In The Game, Till
and What Now My Love.
The Saddest Thing Of All A collaboration with Michel
Legrand, this was the final Carl Sigman song recorded solo by Frank
Sinatra, in 1975 as arranged by Gordon Jenkins for Reprise Records.
(He did revisit What Now My Love in duet with Aretha Franklin
The Thousand Islands Song One of three Angel In The
Wings tunes by the team of Sigman and Hilliard to jump from Broadway
to the charts in 1948 (Civilization and Big Brass
Band From Brazil are the others), in versions by Sigman mentor
and friend Johnny Mercer, and Arthur Godfrey, but represented here
by a hilarious Louis Prima performance. Alternate title: I Left
My Love On One Of The Thousand Islands But I Cant Remember Which
The World We Knew (Over And Over) When Frank Sinatra
had a renewed run of chart success on Reprise in the mid-1960s there
was a Carl Sigman song in the thick of it, a Bert Kaempfert collaboration,
arranged by Ernie Freeman, that topped the Easy Listening chart and
peaked at #30 on The Hot 100 in 1967.
There Is No Christmas Like A Home Christmas Recorded
by Perry Como for RCA Victor, with orchestra and chorus conducted
by Mitchell Ayres, in 1950, this song became a staple of his annual
Christmas television specials; today it is a holiday standard awaiting
Till Best remembered as a girl group classic, as recorded
by The Angels on Caprice in 1961, this song started life as a hit
instrumental by Roger Williams in 1957. Tony Bennett cut a beautiful
vocal version in 1959: Tom Jones charted with it for Parrot in 1971.
What Now My Love With all those hits by Frank Sinatra
and Nat Cole under his belt, Nelson Riddle went off to England in
1962 to score the film Lolita and while there found the time to arrange
Lets Face The Music, an album by a very young Shirley Bassey.
The album yielded a stunning rendition of this song which rose to
#5 in the UK on EMIs Columbia label. Covers of the Gilbert Becaud
collaboration (Et Maintenant, en francais) have been plentiful
ever since, including a #14 charted version by Sonny & Cher on
Atco in 1966, as well as recordings by, among others, Frank Sinatra,
Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, The Temptations, Willie
Nelson, Mitch Ryder, Miss Piggy and, most recently, French star Patricia
Kaas in her first English language release, Piano Bar, on Columbia
(Where Do I Begin) Love Story When the movie Love Story
opened in 1970 it seemed as though every middle-of-the road (thats
what they were called back then) singer on the Columbia artist roster
released a record of its theme. Written to Francis Lais melody,
there were versions by Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Jerry Vale, even
Jim Nabors, but ultimately it was Andy Williams who carried the day
with a top 10 single that topped the Adult Contemporary charts as
well. Shirley Bassey had also entered the fray with a lovely reading
for United Artists which, nearly thirty years later, turned up on
her The Remix Album
Diamonds Are Forever in an away-TEAM mix
that found favor on dance floors internationally. In 1973, Sarah Vaughan
demonstrated what only a great jazz singer can do to a by-then very
familiar song, cutting an intensely personal interpretation live
in Japan for Mainstream Records.
Youre My World In 1964, at the height of Beatlemania,
producer George Martin brought 21-year old Liverpudlian Cilla Black
into the studio and emerged with a recording of this Carl Sigman song
that climbed to #1 in the UK for Parlophone. >
(left) on the cover of The Cash Box in 1949, watching singer Art Mooney
play hopscotch to celebrate the success of Hop Scotch Polka,
written by Carl with Peter De Rose (right). MGM a&r chief Harry
Meyerson also looks on.