I admit that I have moments when I wonder why on earth I spend my scant free moments blogging when I could be, you know, scraping play-dough bits off the floor or watching television or whatever it is people do to relax. Then the other night I got an email that made me so happy that I do keep this silly blog after all. It was from the composer Norman Bergen, in response to a recent post in which I mentioned a song he wrote! I mean, don’t you love the internet sometimes?
As I mentioned in a recent post, Alton’s go-to lullaby is the hit-that-never-was, “Only a Fool Breaks His Own Heart.” In the hospital, right after he was born — which was a wild experience, as he really was almost born in the taxi on the way there, and so maybe we were in even weirder states of mind than after a more, say, relaxed birth experience, if that’s possible — a nurse with a beautiful, soulful voice sang “Only a fool breaks his own heart” in the elevator. Adam, being Adam, immediately looked up the song, and we became acquainted with its various versions. The lyrics make no sense for a lullaby of course, and I hope it doesn’t give Alton any bad ideas about relationships or anything. (Girls of the future, please be nice to our Ollie! OR I WILL MURDER YOU.) We just loved it, and the way, unexpectedly, in that sterile cube zooming us through NYU Medical Center, it came to us.
And same goes for the email Norman Bergen sent me! Look:
“I am originally from Brooklyn. My lyricist Shelly (Sheldon) Coburn (now deceased) and I wrote the song in 1964 and it was first recorded the following year. The first recording by Arthur Prysock did not do well in the U.S., but after a while, we started hearing about cover versions in other parts of the world. We knew the song had been successful in a few places but I never knew about its great success throughout the world until getting on the internet 10 years ago. Bit by bit, information came out. Today the song is a true standard in 3 parts of the world, now with more than 70 versions.