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Fabulous Friday: "Midnight Sun"


I'm highlighting Ella and Sass singing "Midnight Sun" as the Diva / Mensch pair this week, so I thought I'd give the stage to June Christy today. Her recording of "Midnight Sun" was the first I heard. Thanks to Jere and Dale for introducing me to her, and to the song.

The song has an interesting history. It was originally written in 1947 by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke as an instrumental. Here's a film of Hampton playing it on the vibes:

One day in the early 50s Johnny Mercer was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, listening to the radio. In my imagination he's driving a pale blue convertible and smoking a Pall Mall. They played the Hampton recording of this song and he thought, "Hm, that would make a great song!" He had memorized the rhythms of the melody and started writing the words in his mind. He always said that people were amazed by the three rhymes in the first stanza: red and ruby chalice / alabaster palace / Aurora Borealis - - but he always insisted that they were the first three rhymes that came to mind!

He pulled over at the next opportunity, found a gas station, and called the radio station from a pay phone. Remember radio stations? Remember pay phones? He introduced himself, said he was writing the lyrics to "Midnight Sun," and asked that they play the recording again. Which they did.

Here's the divine June Christy recording:

I also found this cute live performance by Christy, probably on *The Tonight Show,* judging from the fact that Steve Allen goes off camera as the clip starts. Christy's timing is a little lackadaisical for my taste, but she's so cute, it's worth watching.


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