The Sound of an Era: Paul Weston©1999JCMarion


Paul Weston was born in Springfield Massachusetts as Paul Wetstein in March of 1912. He studied piano and arranging as a teenager, and by the time he was in college, he was the leader and pianist of his own dance band at Dartmouth College in the early thirties. In the late thirties he had the opportunity to arrange for a number of bands including those of Rudy Vallee, Phil Harris, Bob Crosby and the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. In 1943 he joined a new record label being started in Hollywood by Johnny Mercer and others called Capitol Records. He soon became an arranger, conductor, and artist and repertoire man for the label. During the mid nineteen forties, Weston was the musical director for both the Johnny Mercer and the Chesterfield Supper Club radio programs.

In 1945 Weston had his first hit record with a tune from the motion picture "State Fair" - "It Might As Well Be Spring" with vocal by Margaret Whiting. The record on capitol (#214) was a top ten hit and a solid seller. The Pied Pipers, long a mainstay with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, were signed by Johnny Mercer to Capitol Records. Their great captivating vocal on a Mercer tune called "Dream" (#185) with the arrangement and orchestra of Paul Weston was a huge hit, going all the way to number one and being a five month mainstay on the pop charts. A year later Weston hit with another movie tune "Old Buttermilk Sky" originated in the picture "Canyon Passage" by Hoagy Carmichael the song's composer. Weston's version was a solid top ten record on capitol #285. The flip side also made the hit charts, a song called "Just Squeeze Me (But Don't Tease Me)". Both tunes featured Matt Dennis on vocal. Another top ten tune by Weston came during the spring of 1947 with a cover of "Linda" which was a hit for Buddy Clark. Weston's version of the song on #362 sold well, with Matt Dennis again on vocal.

The pairing of the orchestration of Weston with the vocals of The Pied Pipers produced four other top ten sellers in the late forties. "In The Moon Mist" (#243) was big during the spring of 1946, while "Open The Door Richard" ( #369) based on Dusty Fletcher's stage routine was THE song of 1947. Also that year a tune from the movie version of Somerset Maughm's "The Razor's Edge", called "Mam'selle" (#396) got as high as the number three position in the country's best selling records. The collaboration produced one more smash, the version of The Steele's "My Happiness" (#15094), a seven month charter that reached number three in the nation.

Paul Weston recorded with Gordon MacRae which produced the million seller "I Still Get Jealous" in 1947 on #15002, and two movie tunes that reached the top ten - "It's Magic" from "Romance On The High Seas" (#15072), and "Hair Of Gold Eyes Of Blue" (#15178) from the picture "Silver Spurs". The next number of chart hits for Paul Weston were instrumentals beginning with 1948's classical "Claire de Lune" by Debussy (# 15153) which was on the charts for three months. In early 1949 a great arrangement of the pop standard "Deep Purple" (#15294) charted briefly, while the Weston version of Florian Zabach's "The Hot Canary" (#15373) with Paul Nero doing the honors on violin was a solid seller getting into the top ten and remaining on the charts for more than four months. During the summer of 1949, the two memorable songs from the Broadway show "South Pacific" were paired on Capitol #629 - "Bali Hai" and "Some Enchanted Evening", and both sides were top ten sellers. By now Weston had become a hot property among arrangers and conductors. A big seller for Paul Weston in 1949 was with Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae called "Whispering Hope" (# 690) which eventually was a million seller. (The duo had produced a number one record of "My Darling My Darling" with The Starlighters earlier in the year.) In 1950 two more instrumental recordings charted - "Fairy Tales" (#826) just for a brief stay, and the Edith Piaf signature tune "La Vie En Rose", which remained a big seller for four months on capitol (#890).

By now Paul Weston was in great demand and soon he was lured away from Capitol after seven years and joined high flying Columbia Records with Percy Faith. He was soon joined by his wife, vocalist Jo Stafford, who also came to Columbia from Capitol Records and preceded to have a string of huge pop music smashes for the label in the early fifties. He began on a high note by providing orchestral accompaniment on a million seller for Doris Day called "A Guy Is A Guy". Under his own name he recorded a number of tunes with the Norman Luboff Choir. The first of these was to become the biggest hit record of his career - "Nevertheless I'm In Love With You" (Col #38982) from the picture "Three Little Words". It stayed on the charts for close to five months and got as high as the number two position in the country. "Across The Wide Missouri" and Leadbelly's "So Long It's Been Good To Know Yuh" as a folk music twosome (Col #39160) did fair as did the following "The Morningside Of The Mountain" on (Col #39424), and in late 1951 "And So To Sleep Again"on #39569 barely charted. Once again the Norman Luboff Choir did the vocals on Weston's version of "Charmaine", a hit for Mantovani. The Weston recording on #39616 was a top ten seller. In 1953 Weston recorded the theme from the motion picture "Shane", and the tune "I Went Out Of My Way", neither of which made much headway with record buyers.

Beside all of his orchestral and arranging talents, Paul Weston was also a composer of pop music tunes. His biggest hits were "Shrimp Boats", "The Gandy Dancers Ball", "I Should Care" and "Evelyn". He also tried his hand at more serious works such as "Crescent City Suite" and "Mass For Three Voices". In the mid and late fifties he recorded with Stafford and returned briefly to Capitol Records. He was featured on albums of "mood" music such as "Music For The Fireside" (#245), and "The Sweet And The Swingin'" (#1361), both for Capitol. Columbia albums include "Mood Music" (#527), "Music For A Rainy Night" (#574), "Mood For 12" (#693), and "Moonlight Becomes You" (#909). In the 1960s and beyond, most of his work was in conducting orchestras for television programs which included Danny Kaye, Jonathan Winters, and Jim Nabors specials.

Paul Weston was a unique talent that was somewhat overshadowed by the vocalists that were featured on many of his recordings. Of his own 22 charted records, six were in the top ten, plus all of the big hits by the vocalists and groups that have been mentioned. This provides a wealth of recorded work that can be appreciated by everyone, and comprises a lasting history of that time in history we call the Interlude Era.

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