DEAR JERRY: Gene Pitney to me among the five best singers of the '60s had a big hit with “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”
Recently I rented the movie of the same name, which stars John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin, and Vera Miles. As the film began, I expected to hear that eerie, familiar violin opening that begins the song.
But much to my surprise, it did not play at all, at any time during the film.
How can this be? The lyrics obviously tell the same story as depicted in the movie, so why would they not use it? Was it in the theatrical film but omitted from the video?
Sandra Stanford, Lakeland, Fla.
DEAR SANDRA: Knowing somewhere in my dusty archives would be a note from Gene Pitney about this very topic, the search began. Luckily, I found it.
Gene confirms the exclusion of the theme from the original film, though even he does not know what prompted that decision. He says:
“Because of my prior success with 'Town Without Pity,' I was paid a bundle to record the 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.' Burt Bacharach wrote the song with Hal David, and Burt produced it.
“Though 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' was written for the movie, for some strange reason it was never used in the soundtrack.
“There was some screw-up between the Publishing company, Famous Music, and the Parent company, Paramount Pictures, and that is probably why it never was in the actual film.
“I only found out a few years ago what is the most bizarre part of the story. The actual music used in the film is from a 1939 Henry Fonda film called 'Young Mister Lincoln.'
“Go figure that out!
Regards, Gene Pitney”
Since any Gene Pitney hits collection likely includes “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” you can remedy the situation, and set the mood for a shoot-out, by simply playing the song while you're viewing the film.
DEAR JERRY: I heard some music in the grocery store last night and am wondering about one familiar song, I think is from the 1960s.
The lyrics are hard to understand, but the lead male sings a line of syllables and the male voices respond in echo (i.e., “Ha, ha, ha, ha,” and “tuba, tuba, tuba, tuba”).
What is the title and who sings it?
Beverly Gibson, Fresno, Calif.
DEAR BEVERLY: Wouldn't you just know it? Asking me is the best way.
These strange lyrics, coupled with your description, can only be “Don't You Just Know It,” a Top 10 hit in early '58 by Huey (Piano) Smith and the Clowns (Ace 545).
Should you wish to add “Don't You Just Know It” to your collection, this '50s classic rocker is widely available on dozens of economical compilation LP and CD albums.
DEAR JERRY: When I bought the first Randy Travis LP, “On the Other Hand,” I learned he had been making records for many years before finally getting his first hit.
Can you supply the details of his earlier records?
Wayne Chandler, Tacoma, Wash.
DEAR WAYNE: This won't take long, as there are only three. The first two are singles and both credit Randy Traywick, which is Randy's real name.
Around May 1978, Paula Records issued “I'll Take Any Willing Woman,” backed with “Dreamin'” (#429).
Traywick's debut single didn't attract much attention, but his December '78 follow-up, “She's My Woman” (Paula 431) did make the national charts.
I know you refer to “On the Other Hand” as his first hit, but I think of a record that holds any position on the national charts as a hit. Thus, Randy's first hit is really “She's My Woman.”
In November 1982, while using the stage name Randy Ray, his debut LP came out: “Randy Ray Live at the Nashville Palace” (Music Valley Records 1215).
IZ ZAT SO? Traywick's first LP, “Randy Ray Live at the Nashville Palace” is rarely offered for sale, but when one is on the auction block, the bidding usually ends around $400.
If just hearing this live recording will do, and you can live without the pricey vinyl, a CD reissue is easily available for about ten bucks.