Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pure pop: "Music to Watch Girls By"

We salute you Andy Williams, oh Tiki-headed god of easy listening. Andy had a big-time string of hits in the early ’60s, but what I have been endlessly fixated on was the number of times he “sang” instrumentals — as in, they wrote special lyrics to popular instrumentals for ol’ Anj to warble (or he just wound up warbling them). By the time I became aware of his existence (around the time I became aware of existence itself, in the early 1970s), Williams had sung a big number of songs to which they had added ridiculous lyrics. Probably the most memorably pointless example from the Seventies was his version of Barry White’s “Love Theme,” for which they simply added some feeble rhymes with the phrase “love theme” thrown in a bunch’a times. Andy had his own easy-lis’nin’ tracks that did blow me away in terms of their pure bubblegum spirit (”Happy Heart” being one of the highwater marks), but this little ditty, a lyricized version of a popular instrumental, is one of the catchiest of all. The lyrics are ridiculously grafted on but, hey, that’s the way it goes when you’re “making music to watch girls by….”

In searching for a proper link to “Happy Heart” above, I came up with an Andy impersonator (didn’t know there were any!), who mostly specializes in Fifties and Sixties rock impressions (it also turns out that venerable Eighties warbler Marc Almond tried the song on for size).

And because I’m daydreaming about the urban fantasies of the time in which I was born, lemme pass on this commercial, which became a hit instrumental (which, unfortunately, no one — even Andy! — wound up singing)

Here’s the instrumental, which was a hit for the T-Bones, accompanying somebody’s home-movie footage of L.A. in 1965 (scope out Sonny and Cher at the end):

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