Best Selling Chart Songs

(Don Robertson & Hal Blair)

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  • "BLUE HAWAII" movie & soundtrack album, 1961

 quotes†In January of 1961 I had received a letter from Freddy Bienstock at Elvis Presley Music in New York regarding material for Elvis to perform in one of the scenes in the movie, BLUE HAWAII. Because of the great success of ITíS NOW OR NEVER (adapted from O SOLO MIO), he said they would like to have another adaptation of an old Italian or French (Public Domain) folk song with new English lyrics for Elvis to record. I remembered one of my childhood favorites, LA PALOMA. I enlisted Hal Blairís aid and we began work on it. I didnít have a copy of the music, so I worked it out from memory. This was probably a blessing in disguise, because it took on a unique quality, different from the song I had learned as a child. Hal and I spent most of a day in my office in Hollywood. I sat at the piano and he pulled up a chair next to me and we followed our usual procedure, both of us coming up with lyric phrases and trying them out as I worked on the arrangement and sang in Elvisís style. The lyric and the arrangement gradually evolved until we had a song we thought would fit Elvis and that we felt he might like. I set up a demo session at RCA on Sunset Blvd, just down the street from my office. Iíve forgotten who the engineer was, most likely either Al Schmidt (later on a Grammy winner) or Jim Malloy. I liked working with either of them. Both top of the line, plus the positive and encouraging attitudes so essential to counteracting the insecurity I invariably felt when presenting a new piece of work. I had recently helped my friend and colleague Bonnie Guitar with one of her projects so I asked her to play some guitar rhythm for me (besides her exceptional vocal artistry, Bonnie plays great rhythm guitar). I showed her what I had in mind for the guitar rhythm while I played the B3 organ).Then I overdubbed the vocal and, despite the small orchestra, we came out with what seemed to be a pretty effective expression of the song. I made a lead sheet and sent it, along with the demo, to Freddy. The fact that the arrangement on Elvisís recording follows my demo almost note for note ó including my vocal phrasing ó was a rewarding validation of the effectiveness of the demo as well as telling Hal and me that we hit the bullís eye with the song. quotes

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