“Come Softly to Me”: Cinematically Recast

Crossing Delancey – a surprisingly compelling “small film” about a pickle salesman in pursuit of love – features a soundtrack sprinkled with songs by The Roches, highlighted by their endearing cover of The Fleetwoods’ #1 1959 hit, “Come Softly to Me,” the film score’s emotional centerpiece:

Neither The Roches nor their record label released this version as a single, although they could have.  The song originally appeared on their fifth and final LP for Warner Brothers, Another World, in 1985.

Suzzy Roche with Amy Irving in scene from Crossing Delancey

Suzzy Roche & Amy Irving“Come Softly to Me” Fun Facts

  • The 7-inch 1959 single by The Fleetwoods was the first release for Dolphin Records, a label that would soon be rechristened Dolton (since Dolphin was already in use for a Laurie Records subsidiary label) and serve as home to The Ventures, Roy Lanham, Vic Dana, and Wanderers Three.
  • The Fleetwoods laid down the original backing track at home a cappella accompanied only by car key percussion.  The tape was later augmented in Los Angeles with light instrumentation, including acoustic guitar played by Dolton label co-founder, Bonnie Guitar.
  • Cover versions include Frankie Vaughn with The Kaye Sisters, Astrud Gilberto, Percy Sledge, Sandy Posey, The Tokens, The New Seekers, Bob Welch, and Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult.

Pioneering Pop: Car Keys as Percussion

In November 1952 Wynonie Harris – with Sonny Thompson’s ensemble serving as his backing band – recorded three songs at Cincinnati’s King Studios, the most compelling one being “Greyhound.”

Wynonie Harris

Greyhound – Wynonie Harris

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play “Greyhound” by Wynonie Harris.]

I love the driving rhythm that is augmented by a nice jingly set of car keys.  According to the liner notes in the Wynonie Harris CD anthology – Women, Whiskey & Fish Tails – this Amos Milburn cover became the highlight of Harris’s stage act:

“Purvis Henson, tenor saxophonist with the Buddy Johnson band, which backed Wynonie during a tour of the Midwest and South in the summer of 1953, remembers that Wynonie would start clapping his hands until the audience joined in, while the band played the chugging riff behind him.”

Could Wynonie Harris’s 1952 recording be the first pop recording that features car key percussion?

Bonus video link to a 78 recording of Amos Wilburn’s original version of “Greyhound” that features great bus sound effects – but alas, no car keys.