Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekend Diversion: Brian Hyland

Last weekend, I shared some things I’d learned about the movie of the musical South Pacific as I was researching an unrelated blog post. It’s happened again, but this time because of what another blogger shared.

My pal Roger Green posted “Itsy bitsy teenny weeny yellow polkadot bikini”, a post about that “novelty song” (video up top). It was an interesting post on its own, as his are, but there was one important thing I didn’t know until I read the post: The name of the artist who recorded it.

I learned his name is Brian Hyland, something I’d never learned. But the record artwork that Roger shared made him look really young, so I looked him up and learned that we was sixteen (!) when he had the hit (in 1960). There were two things about this. First, I’d heard the song on the radio for years and always assumed it was someone considerably older.

The other thing is that I’m pretty sure if I’d known about him when I was a kid I’d probably have fancied him. I can’t know that for sure—I was an infant when the song was a hit (he’s a little more than fifteen years older than me (he’s 73 nowadays)—but I know that when I was a little boy I liked male singers who were fairly pretty and non-threatening, much like the boys that little girls of the same age liked, and that’s what he looked like in the early part of his career.

But that all kind of fell by the way side as I found out more about his career, and found out there were other songs of his I didn’t know were his.

First up was in 1962 hit “Sealed with a Kiss”, which made it to Number 3 in the USA. I’d always assumed someone else had recorded that (I think that as a kid I thought it was the Everly Brothers or someone similar). Here’s his song:

I didn’t see any other songs I recognised as I read through the rest of his singles until I saw 1970's “Gypsy Woman” (the version below is audio only). It was another song I thought was by someone I’d heard of, but as with “Sealed with a Kiss”, I could never quite put my finger on who it was—it “sounded kinda like…” but that’s as far as a I got.

There’s a YouTube video of him singing the song on a TV show some years later, though I don’t know when it was recorded. The performance is incomplete.

So, because of Roger’s post I found out the name of the artist who did a song I’d literally grown up with. And, because I was curious, I also learned he’d recorded two more songs I was very familiar with. So, I ended up finding out who recorded three songs I knew, all because of one blog post. This is what I like about blogging: I tend to learn stuff because of where posts lead me.

And finally, as a sort of bonus, I also ran across a cover of “Sealed with a Kiss” I was unfamiliar with: It was by Jason Donovan, an Australian actor and pop artist whose version entered the UK chart at number one in 1989. I’m sharing it because I think he did a pretty good job with the song, but also because the video is SO 80s! I actually think the video is pretty bad for an era when there actually were a lot of really good ones made; this just wasn’t one of those good videos, I don’t think. Because he wasn’t popular in the USA, I’d never heard of him until I moved to New Zealand, and even then I wasn’t really familiar with anything he’d done (though I quickly learned that he’d worked with Kylie Minogue).

The things you learn because of blogs…


rogerogreen said...

Those same guys you liked sort of blurred in my mind,. Bobby Vee, who I've written about, I confused with Bobby Vinton, who, not incidentally ALSO covered Sealed with a Kiss. So did Garry Lewis and the Playboys; Garry was Jerry's son, BTW. But Gypsy Woman was a top 20 hit for the Impressions, Curtis Mayfield's group, 9 years before Hyland recorded it.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yeah, I remember when I was younger thinking that Bobby Vee was a nickname for Bobby Vinton, partly because I wasn't all that familiar with his songs. I also didn't know Garry Lewis was Jerry's son, and I often don't know about earlier versions of songs until I research a blog post—or some kind blogger tells me in some sort of music throwback kind of post.