Retro Music 30

When most people of a certain age think of this song, they will hear the Mamas and Papas version in their heads. However, because my dad worked in the record business, I was aware of earlier versions years before the big hit from the famous American vocal group.

Written and released by The 5 Royales in 1957, it was re-released in 1961, and I got my copy then. Around the same time, the song was covered by The Shirelles, who also re-released their cover version the same year. (Which I also bought) In 1967, The Mamas and Papas picked up the song, and had a huge hit with it around the world. I still have a soft spot for the original, but it is such a good song that they all warrant listening to.

So here are all three versions.

This is dedicated to the one I love
While I’m far away from you, my baby
I know it’s hard for you, my baby
Because it’s hard for me, my baby
And the darkest hour is just before dawn
Each night before you go to bed, my baby
Whisper a little prayer for me, my baby
And tell all the stars above
This is dedicated to the one I love
Life can never be
Exactly like we want it to be
But I can be satisfied
Just knowing you love me
There’s one thing I want you to do
Especially for me
And it’s something that everybody needs
Each night before you go to bed, my baby
Whisper a little prayer for me, my baby
And tell all the stars above
This is dedicated to the one I love
This is dedicated to the one I love
This is dedicated to the one I love
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Lowman Pauling / Ralph Bass
Dedicated To The One I Love lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Royalty Network, Universal Music Publishing Group

London In Colour, 1961: Charles Cushman

In April, May and June 1961, American tourist Charles Weever Cushman (July 30, 1896-June 8, 1972) took these photographs of life in London. On holiday with his first wife, Jean, this extraordinary amateur photographer captured street scenes and buildings no longer commonplace in London.

Shepherd’s Bush Market, West London.

St Pancras Station, Camden. Now renamed St Pancras International, this Gothic revival station was built in 1868.

Christ Church, Greyfriars. Located in King Edward Street, EC1 the ruins in the foreground are unrepaired war damage.

Shepherd Market, Mayfair. Now an expensive and upmarket area, it was formerly known as an area for prostitution.

The Old Curiosity Shop, Portsmouth Street, WC2. It has long been suggested that this shop, one of the oldest remaining Tudor buildings in London, was the inspiration for the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens. However, there is no proof of that. (It is still there today.)

Market Stall in New Goulston Street, London E1.

Bell Lane, E1. I suspect he wanted to photograph the very smart black lady.

Aldgate, E1. A street salesman selling from the back of his van. He is trying to attract a crowd by standing on the roof of it.

Petticoat Lane Market, E1. Charles cleverly found a stall actually selling petticoats!

Another colourful stall in the same market.

Smart soldiers of the Household Division stand guard outside St James’s Palace, SW1.

Smithfield Meat Market, EC1. Porters unload lamb from a delivery van.

Leicester Square, WC2. This area is home to many top-class cinemas, and old-school buskers would get in position to entertain the crowds waiting for films to start.

The Jaeger store on London’s Regent Street, W1. I believe that Charles wanted to photograph the man wearing a bowler hat.

Piccadilly Circus, W1. Much the same today, though the advertising signs have changed.

I am very grateful to Charles for leaving behind this legacy of old London in colour, and for providing some great nostalgic pleasure for me.

No Thanks, Mr Spielberg

I have just been watching a feature on the BBC News, promoting the remake of the film musical ‘West Side Story’, directed by Steven Spielberg.

Being old enough to have seen the 1961 film on release in the cinema, it remained a musical I really liked, in a genre that I don’t generally gravitate to. When I heard the film was being remade for release in 2021, I really couldn’t see the point. After all, the songs and music are the same, and the story virtually unchanged. The original film is still amazing to watch, even sixty years after it was released.

So why do it? Why not just show the original in cinemas again, for a ‘new audience’?

Watching Spielberg being interviewed this morning, I got my answer.

The original film is no longer considered to be ‘representative’. In the new age of political correctness, where history has to be reworked and authenticated to satisfy the media and some minorities, it seems that Mr Spielberg did not think there were enough ‘real Puerto Ricans’ in the original version.

Of course, Natalie Wood was the lead female character, Maria, and she was a ‘white American’ actress. Rita Moreno co-starred and she was Puerto Rican. But there were not enough minority actors in the film to satisfy Mr Spielberg, so he sought to remake it to ‘rectify that fault’.

If we follow this through, then I suspect many old musicals will have to be remade, and very soon.

‘The King and I’ starred Yul Brynner, playing the King of Thailand.
How dare they not cast a Thai actor in the role?

‘Cabaret’ stars Joel Grey as the master of ceremonies in the Kit Kat club.
Come on, we know he’s not German. Get that film remade tout suite!

‘The Sound Of Music’ tried to fool us into believing that Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer were Austrians.
Why didn’t they use Austrian actors? I want to know!

‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ starred Dick Van Dyke as an English professor.
We all know he is American, and there were plenty of suitable actors available in England. Get that remake made!

I could go on, but will spare you more of my sarcasm.

It is just complete nonsense.

No thanks, Mr Spielberg. If I want to watch West Side Story again, it will be the 1961 version for me.

Retro Review: The Innocents (1961)

***No plot spoilers***

There have been quite a few film and television adaptations of the Henry James novel, ‘The Turn Of The Screw’. But this is undoubtedly the best, and is still a wonder to watch, fifty-seven years after it was released. Often described as a ‘Horror’ film, it is far from that, and is a psychological thriller with an element of a ghost story included. Beautifully shot in black and white by the brilliant Freddy Francis, script by Truman Capote, a soundtrack including electronic effects that were ground-breaking at the time, and the 19th century period setting flawlessly recreated.

Deborah Kerr has never been better cast in the lead role of Miss Giddens, the inexperienced but kindly new governess who arrives to take charge of the children in the country mansion of their wealthy uncle, who is away travelling. She is welcomed by the housekeeper, Mrs Grose, (Megs Jenkins, reliable as ever) and meets young Flora (Pamela Franklin) who she immediately adores. The other child, Miles, (Martin Stephens) is away at boarding school, so the small household enjoy the start of summer in the huge old house, and its amazing grounds. Flora and Miss Giddens bond perfectly, and the happy Mrs Grose is pleased to see some order return to the home.

Then the news comes that Miles has been expelled from school, and is soon to return home, to be taught by the governess. When he arrives, he refuses to discuss the reasons for his expulsion, but Miss Giddens is captivated by the polite young man, and delighted that Flora and Mrs Grose are so pleased to see him. However, all is not well in the mansion. Miss Giddens keeps seeing other people, in the house, and outside too. When she asks who else lives there, Mrs Grose is evasive, leaving her to suspect something, and to dig deeper. It transpires that the man she sees is the former Valet, the cruel Peter Quint, (Peter Wyngarde, with not much to do except look scary) and the woman who keeps appearing could be her predecessor, the former governess Miss Jessel. The problem is, nobody seems to see them except her, and Mrs Grose rejects the sightings, telling Miss Giddens that they are both dead. But she will not be put off, and asks more and more probing questions until she discovers that the two were lovers, and she becomes convinced that they are trying to occupy the souls of the children. We are left wondering if it is all just in the mind of the naive woman.

With a main cast of just four characters, this film never flags, and keeps your attention at all times. The set-piece ‘ghostly scenes’ are effective, but not remotely scary to a modern audience. Everything is just right, with superb acting from all involved, especially from the outstanding child actors, who display huge talent considering their youth. The tension builds slowly, helped by making full use of the house and grounds, great editing, and that mood-enhancing black and white photography.
This is film-making of the highest order, and a classic to treasure.

The trailer is very over the top, unfortunately.

Significant Songs (180)

It Was A Very Good Year

When the Frank Sinatra version of this song was released in 1961, my Dad bought the album, and played it constantly. As he was a good singer, he also learned the lyrics, and would wander around singing it, over and over. I was only nine years old at the time, but could tell the song had all the hallmarks of a classic, even though I didn’t have any experience of the emotions expressed by the words.

Every now and then, I would hear the song on the radio, or some cover version on a TV show. Then we went as a family to see Sinatra perform in London, with the Buddy Rich orchestra. After belting out all his well-known favourites, he slowed down, and in a single spotlight, performed this song. He seemed to really get into it, and the venue was hushed as he was singing, the audience feeling it too.

Now I am old, and can really appreciate the sentiments of the song.
It took me a long time, but I finally got it.