Today’s music video is A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation) and the song is performed here by the American music legend Marty Robbins.
This video was posted to You Tube by svendhenrik00
This song was written, recorded, and released by Marty Robbins in early 1957.
Six Months earlier, Marty recorded and released the Melvin Endsley song Singing The Blues. Marty did the song for Columbia Records, and their in house arranger and conductor at the time was Ray Conniff, who heard the song and liked it, but thought it might sound better if made a little more upbeat. Marty didn’t think so, as he liked the original version. Ray Conniff arranged the slightly different version and got in singer Guy Mitchell to record the song. The Marty Robbins version shot up the Country charts all the way to Number One where it stayed for an incredible 13 weeks. However, the Guy Mitchell version rocketed up the Mainstream Popular charts all the way to Number One. Having a Country Number One was great, but most singers craved that Number One on the Popular Music mainstream charts, and while his Country version did well on the Country charts, it stalled just inside the Top Twenty, while the Guy Mitchell version smashed it out of the park.
So, when Marty wrote this song, A White Sport Coat, and took it to Columbia, he specifically asked for Ray Conniff to do the arranging, and provide backing with The Ray Conniff Orchestra and Singers. The song again went to Number One on the Country Charts, but this time, it went all the way to Number Two on the Mainstream popular music charts, his biggest cross over hit, until El Paso went all the way two years later.
Ray Conniff is just one of those many arrangers who also brought out a number of records themselves, mainly easy listening arrangements of current popular music.
In the late 60’s and well into the 70’s, I was a member of one of those record clubs. Every Month, you’d receive a small magazine with a list of new releases and existing records. The were a number of genres, and I was registered in the Popular Music section. Very few of the main artists and bands used these record club outlets, so the selections were in the main second tier artists and bands. You had to make an order for an album each Month, or return the order sheet saying you did not want an album that Month. One album in each genre was selected as the album of the Month, and that was the album which was sent to you if you did not send back the order form. One Month I forgot to return the order form, and a couple of weeks later an album arrived in the mail. It was one of those easy listening albums, and in this case it was an album from Ray Coniff, his orchestra and singers with perhaps a dozen songs on it, all of them arrangements of current popular music. I was perhaps a little angry with myself for forgetting to return the form, as this was not really my style of music at that time. I actually decided to keep the album, and a week or so later, I put it on the record player to listen to it. What really surprised me was that I actually liked it. The music was good, the harmonies were tight, and the arrangements, while the songs were familiar, were done differently. I actually enjoyed listening to it. A couple of Months later, there was another album of the Month, this time one from Percy Faith, and this time, I consciously decided to get this album. I liked that one also. Over the next year or so, I gathered a small collection of around ten or so of these easy listening albums. I had three each from Conniff and Faith, and one each from Andre Kostalenetz, James Last, Paul Mauriat, and Bert Kaempfert. At no time was I disappointed with the music, and what also surprised me was that there were in fact a lot more than the six names I have mentioned here who did this style of music, and that they all sold pretty well, as each of them was quite successful doing just that.
By now, my collection of LP’s was becoming quite large, and a few times, some of my friends would look through the albums, and noticing this small collection from these bands, they would wonder aloud if I really liked this ‘stuff’, as they called it, although they most probably used another term really. They were surprised when I said that it really wasn’t all that bad.
So, when I saw that this song, written by Marty Robbins, had actually credited Ray Conniff on the liner notes and on the disc itself, my mind was immediately taken back to that collection of easy listening music.
This song, A White Sport Coat was released in 1957, and Marty was already a huge Country Music star, having had his first (Country) Number One with his first release, and this song was his third Smash Hit Number One on the Country Charts. He ended up with 17 Number One Hits, and by far his biggest hit was El Paso, which also spent time at Number One on the Mainstream Charts, his only Number One on those Mainstream Charts. This song featured today made it to Number Two on the Mainstream Charts for Marty, his second biggest hit. Besides those 17 Number One hits, 27 of his other songs went inside the Top Ten, and in all, Marty released 100 Singles across the years.
While this song only made it to Number Two in the U.S. it went to Number One here in Australia, which is no mean feat really, as Australia, a considerably smaller market than the U.S. hence we only had the One mainstream Chart, so, while ostensibly a Country Song, it had to compete with all the songs around that time.
Marty said later that he wrote the song in 20 minutes while he was being driven to a concert where he was performing. On the way they passed a group of teenagers going into their school for the Prom.
Marty Robbins is one of those true legends of music, and while these days, that term is loosely bandied around for some artists, Marty Robbins is an enduring and true legend, when it comes to the music scene.