‘Easy Listening’ is the type of music which represents a soothing balm for the heart and soul when times get rough (we may need it during the days to come while we listen to the Presidential debates…). It’s a type of popular music which evolved from the Big Band Music in the 40s and which became a common format on AM radio. I used to listen to these tunes at night while going to sleep. It was the type of music my parents liked to hear after a long day at work. It originated in the 50s and baby-boomers like myself grew up with it. It was meant as a antidote to rock ‘n roll music which tended to be agressive in its sounds and violent to the ears. Obviously Big Band music lovers, like my parents, who danced to the tunes of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, found this music more adapted to their tastes. But as this type of music was streamed over sound systems in department stores, elevators and in doctors’ offices it reflected American and British society just as much as pop and rock…just in a more relaxed way. It certainly became a part of my childhood and later my adulthood. One of the stars of “Easy Listening” has just left us. Andy Williamspassed away yesterday at the age of 84 and certainly made an indelible mark on English-speaking countries.
He recorded eighteen Gold and three Platinum-certified albums. He hosted The Andy Williams Show, a TV variety show, from 1962 to 1971, as well as numerous television specials. He spent the latter years of his life in Branson, Missouri where he built a theater called “The Moon River Theater”. This song, written by two great American composers, Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini, became his signature tune and is the one he was most known for. I’d like to share it with you as a tribute to his life:
Of course many of you may have recognized the music which was actually the theme song of the film “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” starring Audrey Hepburn. Andy Williams adopted the song after seeing Audrey Hepburn sing it in the film and it became an overnight hit when he sang it for the Academy Awards Ceremony in 1962. Here is Audrey singing it:
Thank you Andy and Audrey for giving us so much joy and happiness. May both of you R.I.P.
To learn more about the Easy Listening craze, watch the excellent BBC documentary entitled “The Joy of Easy Listening”. In 1 hour at 50 minutes it looks at Easy Listening’s builders and artists, its pitfalls and joys and the indelible mark it has left on Anglosaxon culture.