Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Record Week!

On Wednesday, my friend and former teaching colleague Betsy Downer-Brown paid a visit to Dr. No's to say hello and to drop off the most thoughtful gift one could ask for. Betsy had found a large stack of her and her parents' records from those pre-CD days and she offered to give them to me if I was interested. (Although I still can't believe that Betsy was really old enough to actually buy records--she still appears to be in her 20s, just as she did when I first met her. I'd say she must have a Dorian Gray-esque portrait hidden away somewhere getting more and more hideous with each passing year, but Betsy is such a genuinely compassionate, considerate, and amiable person that even such a portrait would have a youthful glow and a perpetual smile.)

I only got to speak with Betsy for a few moments, but I also had a chance to meet her mother; I wish we had a chance to talk even longer, but we were able to speak for a few moments, just catching up on what each has been doing in the several years since we saw each other.

Bets brought me two large cardboard boxes filled with records; I have only listened to a couple of dozen of them so far, but it's been a treasure trove of songs I remember but don't own.

One of the most memorable discoveries to come out of this stack o' wax is that Monty Norman was more than a little influenced by Elvis in the composition of his famous James Bond theme. One of the records from the stack that I listened to earlier today was Elvis' Golden Records Volume 3, a really clean mono copy (and I should note that all of the albums were sonically clean and scratch-free, which made them especially enjoyable). I don't own much Elvis, so some of these songs were familiar and some weren't. When the track "Surrender" began to play, I realized that (a) I'd never heard it before, and (b) the piano lead-in to the song is very, very structurally similar to the opening bars of the James Bond theme, which in turn influenced almost every secret agent theme for years to come. Hear it for yourself here:

The song is from 1961, so it most definitely predated the James Bond theme song, which was written for Dr. No, a 1963 film. It's also quite reminiscent of Johnny Rivers' opening to "Secret Agent Man." An interesting little musical sidenote...

I've also listened to a couple of Dean Martin albums that I had yet to pick up, including a great selection of songs from The Dean Martin Show that I remember so well; a Pink Panther soundtrack; two Englebert Humperdinck albums; a Carpenters album I didn't have (and my gosh, what a voice Karen Carpenter had), a late-era Sonny & Cher album, and a few Christmas albums (if you know me at all, you're already aware of my love of Christmas music!). Lots more to listen to, but part of the fun of vinyl is that the nature of the medium itself encourages you to take your time and enjoy at least one entire side of an album before moving on to something else; the mp3-esque searching-and-sampling just doesn't seem right when you're playing a 12" slab of vinyl.

Thanks again for the gift, Betsy!

1 comment:

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Yow. That is the James Bond theme and Secret Agent Man too.