part 8 bannerInterview by
Jerry Osborne
  Jerry Osborne
DISCoveries Magazine
September 1991

July 2006

(From Part 8 )
DISC: "With My Happiness you returned to doing a ballad standard."
Connie: "......I found the song in a book called Musician's Handbook.......I would go through the book and find these standards."

Part 9

DISC: "Is that how you came up with If I Didn't Care ?"

Connie: "Right. I went through the book and just made a list of those type songs and that's how I chose them.  My father was very instrumental in the selection and he really liked Among My Souvenirs."
                As for My Happiness, when I was about eight, Jon and Sandra Steele had it out.  It was my favorite song.  I knew Jon and Sandra, who wrote the song.  I met them once in Las Vegas when they came backstage and thanked me for doing it.  They especially appreciated the royalties."

DISC: "Coincidentally, My Happiness is the song Elvis chose to sing during his first visit to the Sun studio in 1953."

Connie: "I know, and it just came out.  That's a wonderful story.  Oh yes, speaking of Elvis, here is a story I want to share with the DISCoveries family.  This is a story that I've never told anyone, because it just never came up."

"One day in 1960 I was going through my collection of Al Jolson and Judy Garland records, and I played Al's Are You Lonesome Tonight.  I said, Daddy, come listen to this.  I could make it a No.1 song.  He agreed and I called Don Costa in to do the arrangement.  I said, "I'm more excited about recording this song than anything I've ever cut."  We were in the car on our way to New York when the radio played Elvis' "new single"
Are You Lonesome Tonight.  Can you believe that?  I was literally on my way to the studio to record it.  How do you like that?  Elvis even did the recitation part just like Al Jolson did."

DISC: "How about You're Gonna Miss Me backed with Plenty Good Loving?  And I notice you kept the G on Loving."

Connie: "I thought Plenty Good Loving was a lousy song.  I just put it on the other side because I co-wrote it and we published it."

DISC: "But putting a tune to which you hold publishing rights on a B-side is not uncommon."

Connie: "I know, but we still made a big mistake.  When you are sure that on side is going to be the hit, then it's common to add a B-side that you publish.  That's what they call a mechanical, and it can't be proven which which side people go into the record stores and buy.  So the publishers and writers of the B-side get as much money as the publishers and writers of the A-side.  The exception is performances, which, of course belong to the publishers."
                "So, everybody would do that on B-sides.  My father would argue with me, saying, "You're not a publisher, you're a singer.  You've got to give the jukeboxes two good songs.  Forget about publishing.  Leave the publishing to Donnie Kirshner."  The couple of times that I didn't listen to him, I was wrong.  And so from then on I would try to get two good sides on every record."

DISC: "Lipstick On Your Collar backed with Frankie began a long run of double-sided hits for you."

Connie: "Yes, that was the one that started it."

DISC: "God Bless America was a surprise to find on the flip of Among My Souvenirs.  How did that happen?"

Connie: "I was always very patriotic.  Many of the songs in my catalog are patriotic.  And I felt that Kate Smith's version, although she had a beautiful voice, was dated.  I wanted the young kids in America to hear the song and I knew they wouldn't know Kate Smith."
 "Another thing I haven't told before is that Irving Berlin had a fit when he found out I was doing it.  He called my manager, and said, if that teenybopper louses up my beautiful God Bless America the way she did poor Harry Ruby's Who's Sorry Now, I'm going to have a stroke.  My manager said, "Please Irving, relax.  You'll be the first to hear it."  "I just don't want it loused up with any of that Stupid Cupid crap!", said Irving.  Then when the record came out, my manager sent it directly to Irving Berlin and he said, "She did it just the way I thought she'd do it.  It stinks! It's worse than that."  I can't even tell you what he said.  So, when it made the Top 10 in Variety, Irving called my manager and says, "George, do you think she can do God Bless America on The Perry Como Show?"

DISC: "It would have made a great closing number."

Connie: "It would have, but that's exactly why Perry Como wouldn't let me do it.  I wanted to sing
God Bless America in the worst way because of the patriotism angle with the young people.  Plus, I knew that the Perry Como Show could make that song a hit overnight, but Perry wouldn't let me do it.  He said, "It's a show closer, Connie, so you're going to have to pick another song.  Why don't you do that Italian song, Mama?  It's a great one."  I said, "On American TV?  The kids will laugh me off the planet, Perry!."  He said, "But this is not American Bandstand, this is a middle America show, and the Italians are the biggest single ethnic group out there.  Do that song, or do one of your songs from your Italian album."  And so I did.  And it was because Perry wouldn't let me do God Bless America that Mama became such a big hit."

DISC: "Did you agree to have Teddy on the reverse side of Mama?"

Connie: "Teddy was written by Paul Anka, who had been asking me for a long time to record one of his songs.  I wasn't particularly fond of it, but it was like Frankie, the same kind of song, and it was another song that was a person's name.  We also felt it would get some extra attention because Paul wrote it and he was huge in the industry at the time.

Miss any of the previous posts of this Interview?  No Problem!
You are at Part 9


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