Monday, 3 August 2009

Pick up Thy Dobber and Walk

I'm working my way through another pile of song-poem 45s. As always, a fair few of them are pretty mundane, but there are one or two corkers - including the one I've uploaded for you here. Nice Day is a cheery little ditty from those good people at Preview, written by one Charles Scott and delivered by the always-professional Gene Marshall - who does a cracking job despite the idiotic lyrics:

Have a Nice Day today they say,/It's a real cheer-lobber/It picks up your dobber/It picks up their dobber/It's a cheer-dropper/So pass it on your way, Have a Nice Day
Honestly! Hopeless...although not that far off some of the rubbish spouted by Marc Bolan now feted as art.
Gene Marshall is one of the biggest ‘stars’ of the song-poem industry. A man who has sung on literally thousands of recordings for companies such as Preview and Columbine (as John Muir), under his own name - Gene Merlino - he’s a successful studio singer who has won Grammys, worked with Sinatra and Presley and has even appeared on a brace of Simpsons episodes.

Merlino has had a long association with Hollywood, singing in movies including The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast as well as singing the part of Lancelot in the film version of Camelot. He has coached Bette Midler, has recorded with – among literally hundreds of others - Barbra Streisand, Ray Conniff, Natalie Cole and Elvis (also appearing in Presley’s 1969 film The Trouble With Girls), was narrator on Rod McKewen’s album The Sky and appeared widely on prime time US TV shows including Sonny & Cher and The Smothers Brothers.

His biggest claim to immortality is for holding the record for most songs sung in a single session. Merlino claims to have sung 55 separate songs in a four-hour session back in '69, recording what he always refers to as ‘demos’, for a company (probably Preview) that specialised in song-poems. Merlino estimates that he sang about 10,000 song-poems during the 35 years he was in the business, earning little more than a few dollars a song. Yet his work has become widely sought after in record collecting circles, with several of his recordings appearing on song-poem compilations.

''I guess everybody wants to write a hit song,'' he once told the New York Times. ''It's bred in American culture. I did many thousands of demos, and I don't think any of them - not a one - would have qualified to be a hit.''

People write song-poems about love, God, family, America and current events, from elections to terrorist attacks. ''They don't know anything about music, so they write what they feel,'' he added. ''There's stuff that's poignant, stuff that's hilarious, stuff that's stupid, the gamut of human emotions. But most of the songs were from people writing about their own little world.''

Enjoy another slice of song-poem stupidity

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