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The making of Frank Sinatra’s Strangers In The Night



Mark Steyn celebrates his Sinatra Centenary series with a look at the making of a hit song:

It was 1966. Enter Bert Kaempfert “the German kaiser of kitsch”:

He eschewed the standard 32-bar A-A-B-A song, possibly on the grounds that a middle section was way too much work. Instead, his tunes are built on the slightest of melodic themes, endlessly repeated. Yet they are, as the Germans say, Ohrwürmer – or earworms: maddening tunes that insinuate their way into your head and refuse to get out. “L-O-V-E” is the über-Kaempfert, a tune so simple that its lyricist Milt Gabler turned it into a spelling lesson, an “Alphabet Song” for grown-ups:

L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very very extraordinary
E is even more…

So Kaempfert had form. And so Jimmy Bowen listens to Hal Fine’s bunch of Kaempfert themes and something called “Beddy-Bye” comes up. And Bowen plays it again, and again. And then he says, “Man, get me a lyric on that, and I’ll do it with Sinatra.”

“Beddy-Bye” sounds to me like yet another minimalist Kaempfert tune: the five-note title phrase, reprised a tone up and a tone down, is about 50 per cent of the tune. Yet a remarkable number of other people claim to have had a hand in its creation. The last time I mentioned the thing in this space David C Tobin of Washington, DC wrote to say that it was composed by Avo Uvezian, a Beirut-born Armenian-American pianist cum cigar manufacturer. He does indeed claim to have written the music, but so does the late Ivo Robić, the crooning Croat, who insisted that he’d composed it for a folk music festival in Split, Yugoslavia. M Philippe-Gérard, the Brazilian-born French composer of “When The World Was Young”, sued on the grounds that the tune was stolen from his “Magic Tango”, but lost in court.

So until these various Croatian-Armenian claims are as litigated as the Franco-Brazilian ones, we’ll stick with the official narrative. In 1966, Bert Kaempfert wrote this tune for his first Hollywood movie score, for the aforementioned A Man Could Get Killed, directed by Ronald Neame. And all it needed now was a lyric and Jimmy Bowen would make good on his promise and get Kaempfert a recording by Frank Sinatra.

Bowen had never made such a pledge before – for a fairly obvious reason: He was in no position to promise any such thing. “Obviously,” he explained subsequently, “nobody knows what Frank is going to do till he says what he’s going to do.” But he knew that that “Beddy-Bye” theme smelled like a hit, and Hal Fine took him at his word. He farmed the tune out to various writers, and submitted a couple of lyrics. Jimmy Bowen didn’t like either of them.

So Hal Fine tried again, this time with Eddie Snyder and Charles Singleton….

For “Beddy-Bye”, Eddie Snyder took his cue from the film and the James Garner/Melina Mercouri characters: They’re strangers, exchanging glances, and, by the time the tune’s reprised in the final moments, you know that, as the song says, they’re “in love forever”. “We had the scene,” recalled Snyder. “A man is sitting across from a girl in a bar. That was it.” But that was all they needed:

Strangers In The Night
Exchanging glances
Wond’ring in the night
What were the chances
We’d be sharing love
Before the night was through…


Read it all.


Posted: 23rd, October 2015 | In: Music, Reviews | Comment

They Closed Frank Sinatra’s Bootleg Cal Neva Casino

THEY’VE closed the casino at the legendary, notorious Cal Neva Lodge, the Lake Tahoe resort on the California-Nevada border once owned by Frank Sinatra, visited on her final weekend by Marilyn Monroe and a key location of Rat Pack history.

Sinatra owned the Cal Neva in its heyday, from 1960 to 1963.

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Posted: 3rd, April 2010 | In: Flashback | Comment

Rock Hudson’s Lover Marc Christian Dies From Frank Sinatra Syndrome

a1ANORAK’S Man in LA looks at the death of Marc Christian, who gained a kind of fame as screen legend Rock Hudson’s lover.

AFTER months of rumours and unverified reports, Elaine Woo of the LA Times has confirmed the death of Marc Christian, who gained tabloid fame as the lover of Hollywood icon and AIDS victim Rock Hudson.

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Posted: 5th, December 2009 | In: Celebrities | Comment

Michael Jackson Opens Paul Anka Home For Resting Singers

jackson-itMICHAEL Jackson’s new song “This Is It” is breathing life not only into Jackson, the Jackson Five, who sing backing vocals and papa Joe Jackson who can be heard playing the cash register, but also Paul Anka.

Anka is still very much alive, a singing conker who we learn co-wrote Jackson’s first post-reality hit yet remains un-credited on the record sleeve.

Anka says he has been promised 50 percent of the song’s profits:

“They did the right thing. I don’t think that anybody tried to do the wrong thing. It was an honest mistake.”

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Posted: 13th, October 2009 | In: Celebrities | Comment

Susan Boyle Sings On Larry King: Video

SUSAN Boyle Watch: She’s live on Larry King live…

Anorak reader Cheryl in the US writes:

Anderson [Cooper] carried more on her tonight (right on after Larry King) but mainly repeating what Larry King said and he also showed her singing the song from the Titanic

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Posted: 18th, April 2009 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts | Comment (1)