A Sentimental Date
with Perry Como
There’s a well-established axiom in music circles that if Perry Como introduces a song, it’ll be a hit. Naturally, no one’s score is perfect, but Perry has a mighty high batting average. But Perry’s fans like him even better, perhaps, when he’s singing the oldies. With them, his batting average is .400, because he is unrivalled at conveying the nostalgia, the sentiment that we all feel for the beloved old favorites. On this record, RCA Victor has assembled eight of the greatest of Perry’s and your best-loved oldies.
Perry is particularly fond of the old songs himself. "There’s something about the old songs that has an exceptional appeal," he says. "With an old tune, you not only have a melody that has remained fresh and attractive through the years, but there comes with it that indefinable something, nostalgia. For example, when I made a recording of If You Were the Only Girl, which was originally written in 1911, it was an entirely different musical experience from recording a brand new song. I made my first professional singing appearance with that ditty. Somehow I made the grade, but I’ll never forget those first few months when I faced that hard-boiled dance crowd. Now every time I sing Only Girl, I get an added kick with those memories. Maybe to lots of youngsters it’s a brand new tune, but I’m sure it holds a pocketful of dreams for others of the slightly older generation. That’s the way with most revivals. And that’s why I like so much to sing an old favorite."
For a young man in his thirties, Perry has plenty of memories to recall — memories of hundreds of songs sung in all parts of the country, under all sorts of conditions, as he toured with, first, Freddie Carlone’s and, later, Ted Weems’ band.
Perry’s professional singing career began in his native Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where he was born and grew up, the seventh son of a seventh son. ( Perry also has six sisters and, at last count, well over a hundred nieces and nephews. ) He started making his own living when he was eleven, by working in a barbershop, and at fifteen he had his own shop. He often sang as he worked, but he laughed off any suggestion that he should capitalize on his voice. But when Freddie Carlone heard him and offered him a job as vocalist with his group, Perry accepted. This was in 1933; the salary was a magnificent $28 a week, and on the strength of it Perry married his childhood sweetheart, Roselle Belline. Four days after the wedding he left to tour with Carlone and saw little of his bride in the next eighteen months. It was after this experience that he vowed to escape from the treadmill of one-night stands as soon as he could.
But his escape was indefinitely postponed when he was offered a vocalist’s job with Ted Weems’ orchestra. This time his salary was $50 a week, enough to support Roselle as well as himself on tour. The birth of their son, Ronnie, in 1940, made touring even tougher. When Weems, in December, 1942, disbanded his men to go into the service, Perry returned to Canonsburg with a vow never to go on the road again.
He was persuaded to go back to singing when a chance came ( early ’43 ) to have his own sustaining show on radio. Shortly afterwards he was signed for a two-week engagement at the Copacabana, mecca of all entertainers. His engagement was extended to eight weeks, and he was made. RCA Victor signed him to a recording contract, Hollywood signed him up for seven years on the basis of his screen test alone, and Chesterfield nabbed him for the thrice-weekly Supper Club.
Copyright 1952, Radio Corporation of America
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