Thursday, 10 February 2011

Andy Williams - Happy Heart (1969/ No. 19/ 10 weeks/ CBS)

My second favourite single from my favourite male singer.

Hooray for good old-fashioned pop records which weren’t afraid to stop or start or pause.

IT’S! (pause)
MY! (pause)
HAPPY heart you hear
Singing loud and singing clear
And it’s all because you’re near me, my love!

Now, you see with most songs of found love, either consciously or unconsciously, there's a note of disquiet behind them - of the incompleteness of the individual without the other. This is, rather amazingly, an unshadowed record, the happiness sounds entirely unaffected, strong in the best sense.

Its a lucky combination of the right singer being found for the right song. Just imagine how other hands might have treated it, if they'd got to it first; Tom Jones' bellow or Englebert's smarm...

The song is one of those that build and build, the love expanding wider still and wider - growing from a small echo;

There's a certain sound...
always follows me around
When you're close to me
you will hear it.
It's the sound that lo-vers
hear when they disco-ver
There could be no ot-her
for - their - love!

to vast canyons and oceans by the song's climax


A word about the arrangement, the last word in sumptuous 1969 high fidelity sophistication. When heard to on headphones, this is quite a disconcerting listen, with all the percussion in one speaker and the strings and brass on the other. Once you get used to this, the effect is genuinely symphonic, though. For a recording that uses the full spectrum of the orchestra, having Andy Williams as the only constant presence on both speaker prevents him from being swamped by the detail, makes it feel like the voice is conducting the orchestra, the instrumentation responding to each new swelling of love and happiness that comes into his mind.

The single also has the most brilliantly deployed use of the triangle that I can think of - Ting! - before each fresh wave of orchestration.

Andy Williams really does sound as though he's at the highest expressible point of human happiness in this song. Paradoxically, this can sometimes make it a very painful, albeit cathartic thing to listen to. I wish that I ever felt like that.

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