Returning to my Samsung playlist, submitted for your approval…
“I’ll be coming home, wait for me…”
This song is older than I am. My dad liked the Righteous Brothers and their music was in my house, growing up. This is one of my favorites. It has an interesting background. Composed by Alex North in 1955 (a song he’d written in the 1930s), the lyrics were written by Hy Zaret. It was the theme to the movie Unchained, a film about a convict in a medium-security prison, wanting desperately to escape and go home to his wife. This was the movie’s “Melody.” Todd Duncan was the singer for the soundtrack.
There are over 1,500 recordings of this song, with the most notable being the Righteous Brothers’ version. Recorded by the duo in 1965 for Philles Records, Bobby Hatfield won a coin toss to sing it solo on their fifth album Just Once In My Life, according to Bill Medley. [Note: According to the Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Google Books), Just Once In My Life is listed as their fourth album. This reflects, otherwise.] Hatfield changed the song a bit during recordings. He decided to sing “I need your love…” in the final verse much higher than previous singers.
Ken Sharp: “Bobby’s vocals on Unchained Melody […] are stunning. Did he recognize his gift?”
Medley: “I don’t think he knew how good he was. I don’t think either one of us were thinking…are we good or not? I think we were just saying…thank God people enjoy what we’re doing. We admired so many other people and we certainly didn’t feel we were above anyone but, Bobby was sensational.
I happened to produce Unchained Melody. I know a lot of people think Phil (Spector) did it but, I produced and arranged it. I had the arrangement all done and, Bobby came in, sang it twice and that was it. I played piano and sang vocal background on it. [If] I knew that it was gonna be a hit, I certainly would have brought in a better piano player [laughing].”
Soul & Inspiration: A Conversation With Bill Medley Of The Righteous Brothers
Rockcellar Magazine [Web Archive]
May 6, 2014
Recorded on the “B” side of the single Hung On You from the album Back To Back, radio DJs weren’t interested in it and flipped the record over. Per Medley, producer Phil Spector was so pissed off, he began calling the radio stations to make them stop playing the wrong song. Thankfully, he was unsuccessful and the song made it to #4 on Billboard’s Hot 100, the week of September 4, 1965. It re-appeared in the Billboard charts in 1990 when the movie Ghost was released July 13. Two versions of the song wound up in the charts at the same time, the original 1965 version and a new recording by Hatfield. [They] became the first act to have two versions of the same song in the Top 20 at the same time.
I had no idea that Elvis Presley did his own version. The first track from the album Moody Blue, it was recorded June 21, 1977 and released in March 1978. It peaked at #6 on the US Hot Country Songs chart.
Cover Me: The Stories Behind The Greatest Cover Songs Of All Time (WorldCat Library)
The Time Of My Life: A Righteous Brother’s Memoir (Google Books)
Bobby Hatfield Memorial (Spectropop)