Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning in Lithia, Florida, on Friday, February 25, 2022. It is a warm subtropical winter day here in the Tampa Bay area. The temperature is 77˚F (25˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 81% and the wind blowing from the south at 6 MPH (9 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 74˚F (24˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 89˚F (32˚C). Tonight, skies will be clear. The low will be 63˚F (17˚C).
Since my last two posts were about a depressing and difficult topic – the Russian invasion of Ukraine – I think I’ll shift gears and try to keep it light today.
Have you ever bought a music album – be it on vinyl, tape, compact disc, or digital-only – just for one song and then fallen in love with the entire recording? I have – several times, in fact.
The first time I did the “I’m buying this album for The One Song I Want to Hear” trick was in 1982, when I bought Aisle Seat: Great Film Music (Philips, 1982), one of the first recordings by John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Aisle Seat has 10 selections, all of them being – naturally – themes from various movies that range from 1939’s Gone with the Wind to 1982’s E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. They’re not presented in any particular order – The Flying Theme from E.T. by John Williams is the first track, while Ralph Blaine and Hugh Edward Martin’s The Trolley Song from Meet Me in St. Louis is the last – and they represent various eras of cinema history.
Now, my friends who knew me back then will probably scan the list of tracks and say, “Oh, I bet you bought that album just for the Raiders of the Lost Ark March!” After all, as much as I loved – and still love – E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark was my second favorite movie of the time, as well as my favorite Steven Spielberg film.
Nope. The theme that I bought Aisle Seat for was this one:
If We Were in Love is a song with music composed by John Williams. It was written for Yes, Giorgio, a romantic comedy that starred tenor Luciano Pavarotti as – what else – an opera singer who falls in love with a doctor (played by Kathryn Harrold) while he is preparing for a concert at the Met in New York City.
I did not see the movie – it flopped at the box office and got bad reviews, but I did hear Pavarotti sing the version with lyrics on the Today show during the pre-release media campaign for Yes, Giorgio. For some reason, If We Were in Love struck a chord in my sentimental heart. And when I saw that it was one of the tracks on Aisle Seat: Great Film Music, I just had to get the cassette. (I had no working record player in 1982, and compact discs were just being introduced to the market; they were rare and pricey!)
Of course, since Aisle Seat also had other film themes I enjoyed, I loved the entire album right away. But I did buy it for just the One Song I Wanted to Hear.
Another album – coincidentally, it’s another John Williams/Boston Pops Orchestra recording from Philips – that I bought just because it contained one track that I had to hear was Pops in Love.
I wrote an essay – not quite a review – about Pops in Love a couple of years ago, so I won’t go too much into detail about it here. Suffice it to say, though, that I purchased it just to hear the Boston Pops play the Adagio for Strings and Organ, which was composed in the 1940s by Remo Giazotto but passed off as a Baroque piece by Tomaso Albinoni.
In the pop-rock genre – which I admit is not my favorite style of music – I have to admit that I’ve done this “buy the album for just one song, then end up loving the whole record” thing a few times. With Billy Joel, mostly, although I also did it with The Beatles’ late 1970s compilation albums, The Beatles: 1962-1966 and The Beatles: 1967-1970, aka “The Red” and “The Blue” albums.
For brevity’s sake, I will skip the reasons why I bought the Red and Blue albums and go on to reveal the song that I prompted me to buy Billy Joel’s 1983 An Innocent Man album.
Columbia Records released An Innocent Man in August of 1983, a few days shy of two months after I graduated from South Miami Senior High School. My friend Juan Carlos Hernandez – yes, the same guy who stars and directs movies that I’ve either written or co-written – owned the LP, and the title song was getting a lot of airplay on Miami radio. So when I wasn’t listening to An Innocent Man at Juan’s house, I heard it on the car radio whenever I went out with my friends.
Eventually, I bought the cassette version of Joel’s retro-themed An Innocent Man and got to love the other songs on it as well.
What about you, Dear Reader? Have you ever bought a recording just for the One Song You Wanted to Hear and ended up loving the rest of the songs or compositions? Let me know in the comments section below; I want to see some of your musical memories!
Well, I don’t have any news to share, so I’ll close for now. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.