On one particular week In the 2006 edition of American Idol the contestants had to sing a tune from the fifties. They were each helped along by Barry Manilow who coached the singers on the vocal stylings from the period. Manilow also performed a song that he felt epitomised the entire 50s era.The song was Love is a many Splendored Thing written in 1955 by Sammy Fain and Paul Frands Webster. It won an academy award for the movie of the same name which tells the story of an American reporter who falls in love with a Eurasian doctor, only to encounter prejudice from both of their families.
I dont know if I agree with Barry on whether or not Love is a many Splendored Thing was the defining song of the fifties; after all this was the period when rock and roll began and by the end of the decade teenagers wanted to hear Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis. Nonetheless the song became such a well known popular standard that it was almost comical. Practically every singer of the period and on into the sixties did a version of the tune. Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Nat King Cole, Engelbert Humperdink, Jerry Vale and the Four Aces (whose rendition placed # 1 on the charts for 4 weeks in 1955) all covered this sentimental but upbeat song.
Now, 50 years later When I heard Barry Manilows arrangement I was just bowled over. First of all he sang it live flawlessly and it isnt the easiest song to perform. (Played in D flat with key changes, a few chromatic riffs thrown in and notes that have to be held for a LONG time.) Second of all hearing this music reminded me that they actually wrote MUSIC a long time ago. Music where the melody will be remembered 100 years from now and where many different instruments from the orchestra were arranged by geniuses to produce a balanced counterpoint to the human voice.
All this inspired me to add my rendition to the catalogue. I sweated out an arrangement (took about 40 hours to do the music, 10 minutes to sing the tune and 4 hours of mixing) similar to Manilows but with a bit more piano and an electric guitar. Heres the result.