FULL TILTJUST A MOMENT MORE was written in 1951 for Hedy Lamarr to sing in a Bob Hope pic entitled, "My Favorite Spy." Jay and Ray assumed that Hedy's voice would be dubbed, but her contract said that she must sing any songs in her pictures.
The range was too wide for her, so Jay had to change a note to make it easier, which, according to him, ruined the melody. The recording was a disaster, but the musical director assured them that all would turn out fine. Later, the studio brought in a good singer to replace Hedy's voice, and everything sounded swell. At the preview of the picture, Hedy Lamarr turned to the person seated next to her and said, "I sound good, don't I?"
When assigned to write "a popular song of India" for the Alan Ladd picture "Thunder In The East," Jay had no idea what a popular song of India should sound like. But the Paramount music library was a tremendous help to the whole department, and Jay found a new album that had just come in from India. Every song had the same flavor; they all went from major to minor to major to minor, ad infinitum, and Jay used this device for the melody. Ray came up with the title THE RUBY AND THE PEARL.
As they were playing it for the director, a tall, white-clad Sikh in a turban walked in and stood by the door listening. He was the technical advisor. The director, Norman McLeod, said "That's very pretty. What do you think, Ahmed?" The Sikh said disdainfully, "It's terrible. It's all wrong." Livingston & Evans asked defiantly, "What's wrong with it?" The Sikh replied, "In India, we would never compare our love to the ruby and the pearl." When asked what he would compare it to, the Sikh answered. "To the white orchid and the cockatoo." It stayed THE RUBY AND THE PEARL.
Strangely, songs have different lives in different countries. THE RUBY AND THE PEARL was never a hit in America, but went #1 in Brazil.
In 1955, Alfred Hitchcock was making a picture called, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and wanted Jimmy Stewart for the lead. Stewart's agents, the omnipotent MCA, told Hitchcock he could have Stewart only if he took another client, Doris Day, and another of their clients, Livingston & Evans, to write a song for her. Livingston & Evans insist this is the only time an agent ever got them a job.
Hitchcock didn't want Doris Day, although he was very happy with her later. He told Jay and Ray that he didn't want a song, but, he said, Doris is a singer, and the studio wants a song for her. He added, "I don't know what kind of song I want. But Jimmy Stewart is a roving ambassador and it would be nice if the song had some foreign words in the title. Also, in the picture, I have it set up so that Doris sings to their little boy."
It just so happened that Jay had seen a picture called "The Barefoot Contessa," and at the end of the picture Rozzano Brazzi took Ava Gardner to his ancestral home in Italy, and carved in the stone was the legend CHE SERA SERA.
He told her that it was their family motto and meant "What will be, will be." Jay wrote the title down in the dark. Later, they changed the Italian "che" to the Spanish "que" because of so many Spanish-speaking people in the world. The phrase is also "Que sera sera" in French, which may account for the song's wide acceptance.
When Jay played the completed song for Hitchcock, the director said, "Gentlemen, I told you I didn't know what kind of song I want. That's the kind of song I want." And he walked out and they didn't see him again for years.When Jay played the completed song for Hitchcock, the director said, "Gentlemen, I told you I didn't know what kind of song I want. That's the kind of song I want." And he walked out and they didn't see him again for years.
Meanwhile, there was a Livingston & Evans song in "The Man Who Knew Too Much" that Doris Day really liked and which she recorded ("We'll Love Again"). However, she refused to record QUE SERA SERA because she thought it was a children's song. But this was the important song in the picture, so Paramount insisted that she record it. Paul Weston, who was present at the recording session, said that she knocked it off in one take and said, "That's the last time you'll ever hear that song."
Daily Variety and most of the smart money said that Cole Porter, because he had never received an Oscar, was a lock for his "True Love" in 1956's Academy Awards. But to Jay and Ray's surprise, their names were called out and they won their third Oscar for QUE SERA SERA.
TAMMY is another famous Livingston & Evans title song. It was written for Debbie Reynolds to sing in the Universal picture, "Tammy and The Bachelor." The Debbie Reynolds record was a huge hit, and the song received an Oscar nomination in 1957. When they didn't win, the president of the Motion Picture Academy told them they didn't receive the award because of a promotion Universal sent out to all Academy members: a letter written in a girl's handwriting and signed, TAMMY, asking for votes. The Academy members apparently resented this blatant advertising, although today this sort of thing is rampant.
Another song nominated for an Oscar was ALMOST IN YOUR ARMS, written for Sophia Loren to sing in the Paramount Picture, "Houseboat," which also starred Cary Grant.
In the late fifties, the writers of the background scores suddenly rebelled and insisted on writing the music for all the songs in the pictures they scored, thus effectively destroying the motion picture activity of the professional songwriters. This was almost the end for great music songwriters like Harry Warren, Sammy Fain, Jimmy Van Heusen and others. But lyricists were in great demand, so, since Livingston & Evans wrote lyrics together, they decided to continue their motion picture activities by writing lyrics for other composers, which they did quite successfully.
Raymond Bernard Evans
February 4, 1915
Salamanca, NY, USA
February 15, 2007
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Wyn Ritchie Evans
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