Ask "Mr. Music" January 25, 2010
"A Lovers Hymn" and Songs naming the 12 months
Let's continue our feature here at DigitalDreamDoor: Ask "Mr. Music." Now in its 25th year of syndication (1986-2011), Jerry Osborne's weekly Q&A feature will be a regular post every Wednesday from now on.
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Ask "Mr. Music" "Jerry Osborne"
January 25, 2010 - "A Lovers Hymn" and Songs naming the 12 months
DEAR JERRY: In 1959 or '60, I heard a song on the radio, but never once heard it again. The title may be something about a lovers hymn.
Believe me, I have checked everywhere but can find no mention anywhere of such a tune. I recall it has an R&B flavor to it, with a male lead voice and a female group backing him.
Did I really hear this? I'm beginning to wonder if all of this is only in my mind. You are my last resort.
- Jim Goyette, Ft. Myers, Fla.
After trying so hard on your own to solve this mystery, you deserve an answer. Even if it is from your last resort.
Your recollection of the facts is excellent, it is indeed "A Lovers Hymn" issued in April 1959 (Dot 15943), by the Fontane Sisters.
Though this single did not make the national charts it did get some regional air play, which you obviously know.
You even describe accurately the male lead singer and the female backup; however, just from seeing the record label you could not know anyone other than the Fontane Sisters is involved.
The male singer you hear is Charlie Singleton, who is also the writer of "A Lovers Hymn." Strangely, Singleton is not credited as a performer anywhere on the label - this despite his being the primary voice on the session.
Not crediting a backup singer or orchestra is not uncommon. Failing to even make mention of the lead singer is practically unheard of.
A scattered few records exist with no artist credit whatsoever, but I do not recall one like this Dot single.
Granted, the Fontane Sisters were the bigger name act, but at least something like "The Fontane Sisters with [or Featuring] Charlie Singleton" should have been used.
Now you'll be pleased to know you can easily listen to "A Lovers Hymn" on YouTube. Even the inexplicable label is pictured.
DEAR JERRY: Last month when I heard Dean Martin singing "June in January" I thought how very unusual it is hearing two different months mentioned in a title.
Might there be one with three? I can't think of any.
Also, is each of the 12 months represented in at least one song title on records? For example, I do not know of any title including February, March, August, or November.
March is a near-impossible one, as all of those I find are about marching, such as
"March from the River Kwai" and "March of the Penguins."
- Marcy Galloway, Green Bay, Wisc.
DEAR CALENDAR GIRL:
By answering the second question, your first one shall also be satisfied.
The names of all 12 months can be found in song titles, and I will provide one hand-picked example of each as proof:
"June in January" (Dean Martin, 1959);
"February Sunshine" (Giant Sunflower, 1967);
"Winds of March" (Journey, 1978);
"April Love" (Pat Boone, 1957);
"First of May" (Bee Gees 1969);
"June Night" (Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, 1957);
"July 12, 1939" (Charlie Rich, 1970);
"June, July, and August" (Freddy Cannon, 1962);
"September in the Rain" (Dinah Washington, 1961);
"October" (U2, 1981);
"November Rain" (Guns N' Roses, 1992);
"December 1963 (Oh What a Night)" (4 Seasons, 1976).
IZ ZAT SO?
Over the past 70 years (1940-2009) only twice did the nation's No. 1 Pop song have a month in the title: Pat Boone's "April Love" (1957) and "December 1963 (Oh What a Night)," by the 4 Seasons (1976).
"November Rain," by Guns N' Roses, reached No. 3, as did Freddy Cannon's "June, July, and August," but only because its flip side is "Palisades Park." "June, July, and August," a tune about summer vacation ("gonna shout... school is out"), is also the answer to your first question.
Special thanks to Kenneth Atlas, of Cashbox magazine, for assistance in preparing this feature.
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