Sunday, November 09, 2003



Upon reading that Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers had died (he was born the same year as I), I went immediately to my musical archives and put on Unchained Melody and let it just repeat. Like any classic, that performance never ages, just gets better as you grow enough to sense the nuances that were there all along.

I read an interview with Bobby in which he said that he'd liked the song so much and wanted to do his own version of it so much that he went into the studio to do it as a B-side and nailed it in one take.

To think at the age of 25 Bobby went into a major studio, with Phil Spector producing, and rendered that classic in just one take. As I listened to that amazing performance, one that I've loved and gone back to many times over the years since it first swelled from all the jukeboxes in 1965, it filled me as it always has, with the passion of its rendering and astonishment at the singer's instinctive understanding and fluid literacy regarding every technical and emotional nuance of the song, right from the very first "Woh..." (not merely "Oh").

Phil Spector's wall of sound is mere background to one of the most beautiful renderings by one of the most amazing voices in modern music. What a take that was. Thanks forever, Bobby.

[Also posted on BlogCritics.]

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