During the 90’s when everyone was embracing grunge and “alternative” music, I hated it. Rock was everywhere and it just turned me off. In 1991, I began working at Cameron’s that, at the time, was owned by a guy who loved 40’s, 50’s and 60’s pop and jazz singers like Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, and Ray Charles. There were hundreds of CDs at the store of all this stuff. I was so excited to hear all this “new” music. There was more to life than rock!
One of the CDs that was in heavy rotation in Cameron’s was a Capital Records compilation of Irving Berlin songs featuring this crazy song called “You’re Just In Love.” It starts out soft with just a string bass and then the voice of Kay Starr drifts in. “I hear music and there’s no one there. I smell blossoms and the trees are bare. All day long, I seem to walk on air. I wonder why.” The song continues to build adding more instrumetation until Kay starts singing a duet with herself. “You don’t need analyzing. It’s not so surprising that you feel strange but nice. Your heart goes pitter patter. I know what’s the matter because I’ve been there once or twice.” I remember standing behind the jewelry counter in the center of the store back during my days of Levi jeans and birkenstocks and thinking that I had died and gone to heaven when I heard Kay Starr singing this song. It ends with her bellowing over a full orchestra with lots of horns: “There is nothing you can take to relieve that pleasant ache. You’re not sick. You’re just in love!”
A few years ago, I complained to Bill that we didn’t have enough Kay Starr records at WXYC. That quickly changed, but we still don’t have Kay’s version of “You’re Just In Love.” Otherwise, I’d probably play it every week. Last Friday, I read one the record reviews that I had written for one of the half dozen Kay Starr albums we have at WXYC. I had forgotten that she developed her vocal talent by singing to the family chickens when she was little. Her mother entered her in a local radio station talent contest, which led to a fifteen-minute radio show on which she sang hillbilly tunes and pop songs. At the age of fifteen, she started singing with Joe Venuti’s orchestra. She sang for Glenn Miller’s orchestra after Marion Hutton was out sick. She even ended up replacing Lena Horne in Charlie Barnett’s orchestra. She was considered a great “white” influence in the early R&B genre. In the 50s, she signed with Capitol Records where she continued to crank out pop hits and even some hillbilly hits. (Her songs with Tennessee Ernie Ford RAWK!) In 1950, she fell in love with Roy Acuff’s “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” She convinced him to write lyrics for the fiddle tune and it became one of her biggest hits.
Last week, I played “It’s A Good Day” by Kay Starr. This week, I won’t be playing any Kay Starr as I will be out of town. But Tim (who covered my show a couple weeks ago) will be covering my shift. He’s really good.