Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Story Behind The Song

Brand new on The Forgotten Hits Mailing List is Paul Evans, whose Top Five Hit "Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat" we featured the other day on the web page. (You'll hear more from Paul tomorrow, including his brand new Christmas song, "Santa's Stuck Up In The Chimney", a YouTube favorite with over 100,000 hits so far!)

But today Paul tells us about the #1 Hit he penned for Bobby Vinton back in 1962. Not only did it top Billboard's Pop Singles Chart for four weeks ... but it literally launched Vinton's career ... "Roses Are Red (My Love)" would be the first of Bobby's 31 Top 40 Hits, including three more #1's, "Blue Velvet" (1963), "There, I've Said It Again" (1964) and "Mr. Lonely" (1964). (Bobby's "Polish Prince" favorite, "My Melody Of Love" just missed the top spot ten years later when it peaked at #2 in Cash Box Magazine in 1974.)

But it all had to start somewhere ... and today songwriter Paul Evans tells us ... in his own words ... the story behind "Roses Are Red (My Love)":

Hi Kent,
I just spoke to Artie Wayne ... and he thought that I should relate a couple of stories to you that are NOT up on my Web site.

How’s this one about “Roses Are Red (My Love)” …

I was in Associated Recording Studios recording demos on some new songs of mine when a co-writer of mine, Al Byron (“Happy Go Lucky Me”, “Something Blue”) walked in and wanted to show me a lyric that he’d just written.

So, as a joke, I told my musicians to “Take a break. I’m going to write a hit song now”. J J J

Al put his lyric in front of me on the piano. I took a minute to scan it and then I wrote it.

I turned around – laughing – but Al wasn’t laughing. “That’s terrific”, he said.

I worked on the melody for a couple of weeks, because you can’t write a hit song in under three minutes. But I just couldn’t top the melody that I’d written at my first glance at Al’s lyric. And that’s what you hear on Bobby Vinton’s four-week Billboard topper - the lyric that Al put on my piano and the melody that I wrote in under three minutes.

“Roses Are Red (My Love)”, of course, turned into Al’s and my biggest hit ever.

Here’s the lesson: You can work on a song for months (and I have) until you’ve finally got it to a point that you think it might be the world’s first perfect song – but no one likes it.

But you can work on a song for a few minutes - and - POW! You’ve got yourself a big hit. Go figure.
Paul Evans

Thanks, Paul! (We'll feature your new Christmas song tomorrow!)

According to Fred Bronson's book "The Billboard Book Of Number One Hits", Vinton was about to be dropped from the brand new Epic Record Label after his first two releases flopped. (These releases could best be described as "Big Band" music ... Vinton first fancied himself as a band leader, not a singer.) At a meeting with some label executive lawyers, they broke the bad news ...

"No, no ... you owe me two more sides", Bobby protested. The lawyers excused themselves to discuss the matter in another room. While they were gone, Bobby explains, "They were figuring out how to get rid of me. I saw a pile of records that said 'reject pile', and they still weren't back. I noticed the record player was turning, so I started to listen to some of the records they were throwing out and all of a sudden I heard 'Roses are red, my love, violets are blue.'

"When they came back, they said the band just wasn't making it. I said, 'I can sing a little, and there's a song you're throwing away that really sounds like something I would hear on the radio.'" Since they agreed that they did, in fact, owe Bobby another recording session, they let him cut two more songs, including "Roses Are Red".

Bobby says he recorded it first as an R & B song. "It was the worst sounding thing you ever heard in your life!" he admits. "I'm not really a country singer, but I said we should do it country ... and on the strength of the song, I got a second shot at 'Roses Are Red'." Epic even brought in a new arrangement, strings and a vocal choir.

The single went straight to #1, the first #1 Record for the Epic Record Label. In fact, when the record sold a million copies, Bob Morgan became the first record producer to officially receive a gold record in acknowledgment of his contribution!

For more on Paul Evans' hit music, be sure to check out his website:
Click here: Paul Evans - Recording Artist and Songwriter