Carl Sigman in the News
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New York Times, September 30, 2000
Carl Sigman, 91, Songsmith Who Made Generations Hum

Carl Sigman, who wrote music or words for dozens of songs to which generations have tapped their toes, including the theme song to the 1950’s "Robin Hood" television series ("Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the glen") died at his home in Manhasset, N.Y., on Tuesday. He was 91.
__"Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think," the answering machine at his home chirped yesterday, reprising in timely fashion the lyrics to a tune he wrote in 1950 to accompany words written by Herb Magidson.
__It became one of Guy Lombardo’s most popular recordings. "Crazy, He Call Me," a 1949 tune for which Bob Russell wrote the lyrics, became a Billie Holiday standard.
__More often, though, the trim and witty songwriter wrote the words to songs that include Duke Ellington’s "All Too Soon" in 1940 and "What Now My Love," for which he wrote English lyrics in 1966 to a French song written four years earlier. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Sonny and Cher and Mitch Ryder sang his version.
__He wrote the words to "Ebb Tide," a song originally composed as an instrumental by the harpist Robert Maxwell; Vic Damone, the Platters and the Righteous Brothers, among others, recorded it.
__In some ways his most peculiar lyrics were written to "A Melody in A Major," a flute piece composed by Charles G. Dawes before he became vice president in the administration of Calvin Coolidge. For six weeks of 1958, it topped the charts as the Tommy Edwards rock’n’roll hit, retitled "It’s All in the Game."
__In 1947 he and Bob Hillard collaborated on the words and music of "Civilization (Bongo, Bongo)," for the musical "Angel in the Wings." It was later sung by Danny Kaye, the Andrews Sisters and Louis Prima, among others.
__Mr.Sigman’s last big hit "Where Do I Begin?," the theme song for the 1970 movie "Love Story," illustrated his conviction that the best songs reflected natural conversational language. The producer had hated his first version, and in his frustration, the lyricist muttered to his wife the words that became the song’s title.
__The title, Mr. Sigman always said was the hardest part.
__Mr. Sigman prowled Tin Pan Alley, as New York’s song-publishing district has been known since Hampton’s Broadway magazine first used the phrase in 1908. He worked in the Brill Building, the industry’s epicenter, and met his wife, Terry, there, when he dropped in to see how Mr. Prima was doing in recording his "Civilization".
__She was Mr. Prima’s assistant.

With rise of rock and then rap, the demand for Mr. Sigman’s sophisticated brand of elegant word play and lilting language, the hallmarks of Tin Pan Alley at its best, seemed to subside, at least from his perspective.
__"I became totally out of it," he said in an interview with Newsday last year. "The sentimental song became a rarity rather than a common occurrence."
But he was hardly forgotten, as he demonstrated by a Billboard article in 1997 that mentioned how widespread his music still was. Woody Allen had just used "Enjoy Yourself" in his movie "Everyone Says I Love You," and Tony Bennett had recorded "Crazy, He Calls Me" in an album saluting Billie Holiday.
__Billboard reported that Natalie Cole had just recorded his "If You Can See Me Now," And the group Deep Purple had featured the Robin Hood theme.
__Mr. Sigman’s son Michael, who lives in Los Angeles, noted that a Mercedes commercial shown during the current Olympics used "Enjoy Yourself." He also said that many bands in Eastern Europe have for reasons he does not begin to fathom, made "Buona Sera," a song published in 1947, a regular part of their acts.
__Carl Sigman was born on Sept. 24, 1909, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. His father owned a shoe store. His mother gave Carl the ultimatum to become either a doctor or lawyer, and he chose law, because, at least according to family lore, the sight of blood upset him.
__He graduated from New York University Law School and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced. He had studied classical piano for nine years, and was fascinated with music. He became acquainted with Johnny Mercer, the lyricist, vocalist and composer who, with his wife Ginger, shared many kreplach and soup dinners at the Sigmans’ house. Mr. Mercer became his mentor.

In 1942 Mr. Sigman was drafted into the Army and served in Europe in the crew of a glider. He was awarded a Bronze Star for heroism, but would never discuss his combat experiences, his son said. He also wrote what became the 82nd Air borne Division’s official song. "The All American Soldier," receiving a $25 war bond for the achievement.
In addition to his wife and son Michael he is survived by two other sons, Jeffrey, of Carmel, Ind. and Randy, of Hartford, Conn., and a granddaughter.
__One of Mr. Sigman’s best-known legacies is a phone number. In 1938 he wrote "Pennsylvania 6-5000," in tribute to the Hotel Pennsylvania, where the Dorsey Brothers, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw regularly performed. The Glenn Miller Orchestra recorded the number.
Yesterday, if you dialed PE6-5000, you still got the hotel.

(c) New York Times