Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
“A wedding is for daughters and fathers. The mothers all dress up, trying to look like young women. But a wedding is for a father and daughter. They stop being married to each other on that day.”
Sarah Paul, Eurydice
It's Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night feature on This Just In.
The weekend has finally arrived.
The sun is setting.
The evening sky has erupted.
Let's smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.
This weekend marks the first one in June and you know what that means…
Arizona psychotherapist and blogger, Dr. Daniela Roher offers some interesting tidbits about the history of June weddings.
Centuries ago Roher writes, “June was considered the time when people came outdoors after a long winter and bathed communally. I guess to marry when one is clean seemed to them to be a good beginning… It is quite possible that the use of flowers at weddings was also, initially, a way of masking body odor.”
Back then weddings weren’t very safe.
“Weddings could also be dangerous events, as a wealthy bride could be kidnapped, in order to get a handsome dowry, on her way to the ceremony, or during the ceremony itself. Bridesmaids were dressed just like the bride to confuse possible captors, and the groom’s place was on the right of the bride in order to provide him with easy access to his sword, if the situation required it.”
Many years ago I helped my good friend Jim Kaluzny moonlight spinning tunes at wedding receptions. Popular numbers were the slow dances. We called them “bumpers” and “grinders” in high school.
Tonight, some classic “bumpers” and “grinders” that always worked for Jim and I and got guests to flock to the dance floor.
A sure fire winner early in the evening was the first song in this medley from this legendary vocalist.
A tradition at weddings though not universal as some couples want nothing to do with it has the bride toss her bouquet and the groom toss his new wife’s garter. The single man and single woman who catch the items are said to be the next to marry (not necessarily to each other). The two share a celebratory dance together. After a brief time we’d invite the entire audience to join them to break any possible embarrassment.
Here’s the song we’d play during that tradition for the single couple.
And now an update and correction published on 6/9/14. At this point in the blog, I originally posted the following:
Have you ever been a victim of unrequited love? That’s the subject of our next song that has a great story. The lyrics were written by Hy Zaret (real name William Stirrat) in 1923. He was only 16.
He told his hometown newspaper he was smitten with "the prettiest girl in my neighborhood." He was shy anytime around her. He stuttered when he attempted to speak to her. She smiled at him and he could only freeze.
Decades later, he felt she loved him, too, but he was far too shy to act on his feelings. So instead, he wrote about them, at the young age of 16.
His dream girl, Mary Louise "Cookie" Pierce, wound up marrying the guy considered the best catch in town.
"I read about it in the papers. It was hard,” said Zaret in that hometown newspaper interview.
But love would strike for real in 1958. Zaret saw Bernice across a room. It was love at first sight, and they married.
"I knew she was the girl for me," he said.
About that song he wrote when he was 16…Zarat never went into the songwriting business as a career. Zaret’s mom was a music teacher of the classical variety. She was angry when she learned her son was writing a song about love’s lament.
Zaret finalized the words to his song in 1936 when he met the man who would compose the music for it. Not until 1955, 19 years later, did it become a recording. Al Hibbler who was Duke Ellington’s vocalist did the honors. The song first appeared in the movie "Unchained" in 1955.
"When the Righteous Brothers came out with their version (in 1965) I wasn’t even looking for royalties. In 1979, I joined the Song Writers Guild, then I collected royalties. I joined them to collect royalties. I just told them my name and what I’d written. At that time, there were two albums with my song on them, one by Elvis Presley and another by Willie Nelson," Zaret said.
Many people think Bobby Hatfield’s (from the Righteous Brothers) version is the best. Zaret disagreed. He preferred Elvis’ rendition.
"Elvis’ recording was the best since 1955. I didn’t like Hatfield’s version because he jazzed it up and added, ‘oh yeah’" he said.
The song is “Unchained Melody.”
Unfortunately the information based on an article in the "hometown newspaper" I referred to was false. The paper interviewed an imposter named William Stirrat who claimed to use the pen name of Hy Zaret. The article can still be found on the Internet.
There really was a Hy Zaret and he really did write the words to "Unchained Melody" and Hy Zaret was not a pen name for William Stirrat.
The NY Times in an obit of Hy Zaret wrote:
"Mr. Zaret’s name would become an issue ... when William Stirrat, an electrical engineer, claimed he had written 'Unchained Melody' as a romantic teenager under the pen name Hy Zaret. Several articles on Mr. Stirrat’s claims to authorship were printed. Legal proceedings ensued, but both Mr. Zaret’s son and Mr. (Jim) Steinblatt (assistant vice president for special projects at Ascap) said the dispute was resolved completely in favor of Mr. Zaret, who continued to receive all royalties."
I regret the misinformation and apologize to the Zaret family.
The true motivation for the song? It was written for “Unchained,” a low-budget prison film.
Next up, a band I like to feature on my Friday night Goodnight blogs, Chicago.
Their first album was called “Chicago Transit Authority.” The real CTA got rather upset so the band changed their name to simply “Chicago.” The CTA really showed them, didn’t they?
That second album’s most creative piece was trombonist James Pankow’s "Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon,” a long, extended medley of various musical twists and turns.
"I had been inspired by classics," said Pankow of the “Ballet For a Girl in Buchannon”
“I had bought the Brandenburg concertos, and I was listening to them one night, thinking, man, how cool! Bach 200 years ago, wrote this stuff, and it cooks. If we put a rock 'n' roll rhythm section to something like this, that could be really cool. I was also a big Stravinsky fan. His stuff is classical, yet it's got a great passion to it. We were on the road, and I had a Fender Rhodes piano between Holiday Inn beds. I found myself going back to some arpeggios, a la Bach, and along came ‘Colour My World.’ It's just a simple 12-bar pattern, but it just flowed. Then I called (reed player) Walt (Parazaider) into the room, and I said, ‘Hey, Walt, you got your flute? Why don't you try a few lines?’ and one thing led to another. “
One of the greatest vocalists of all time was Nat King Cole. There’s no telling what he would have accomplished had he not died when he was in his early 40’s.
His daughter, Natalie has more than followed in his footsteps with a career that began in the disco days of the 70’s and continues today.
Her career took quite a turn in 1991 thanks to this man…
Joe Guercio, Elvis’ musical director. He led the King’s orchestras on tour in concert. Guercio came up with the idea of pairing Nat King Cole’s 1961 vocals with that of his daughter’s.
Recording engineer Al Schmitt has won a dozen awards as Best Engineer and has recorded and mixed no fewer than 150 gold and platinum albums during a career that began in the early '50s. In 1997, he was an inductee into the Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards Hall Of Fame.
Schmitt worked on Natalie Cole's Unforgettable album in 1991, including the title track that paired her vocal with that of her late father, recorded at the Capitol Studios in Hollywood exactly 40 years earlier.
"Natalie's very easy to record," said Schmitt. "At one point, instead of being in a vocal booth, she came out and stood right there with the orchestra, à la Frank Sinatra. She was amazing. When Natalie performed in Vegas, she would sing along to a video of Nat singing 'Unforgettable' — that's where the idea came from — so when we got the tape we knew what we were going to do.
“Back in the early '50s the studios didn't have isolation booths. Nat was in the room with the orchestra, so there was some bleeding from the orchestra into his mic, and we therefore tried to filter out as much of that as we could. Still, there were spots where we just couldn't filter out the leakage, and so when Johnny Mandel did the arrangement for the new recording he compensated by way of writing similar instrumental parts to cover up the leakage in those particular areas.”
The duet featured many musicians who played on the original 1961 recording who were moved to tears. Natalie Cole somehow managed to complete her portion of the duet in three or four takes.
That’s it for this segment.
Have a great weekend.
Congratulations all you June wedding couples.
A reminder that we do this every Friday night, right here on FranklinNOW.com to demonstrate that there's plenty of good music around, not just the junk they're spewing out today.
While I was recovering from recent hip surgery I read several books, a couple about our next artist. They reinforced that you simply couldn’t persuade or convince this artist to your way of thinking if he felt otherwise.
In the early 60’s he didn’t want to record a certain song for a certain movie. He wasn’t very fond of the tune. But after listening to close associates he changed his mind and a classic was born. Of the many songs Jim and I would play at weddings, this one got the biggest response when it came to a crowded dance floor.