Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: One thing I always found peculiar is how many recordings end by fading down and out.

When originally recorded in the studio they don't fade out, and you never find it during live appearances.

We know fades are common, but they are almost always at the end. In fact, before the Beatles released “Eight Days a Week” I never heard a record fade IN. Still, like most of their songs it does not fade away at the end.

Are there any hits before “Eight Days a Week” that fade in? I can't think of one.
—Penny Kuralta, Racine, Wisc.

DEAR PENNY: For this purpose, we must first qualify a fade-in.

The track must begin with music, either instrumental or vocal, but not sound effects. Two examples of this are the galactic sounds that launch “Telstar” (Tornadoes), or the spooky noises kicking off “Monster Mash” (Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers).

Of the thousands of hits before “Eight Days a Week” (early 1965), those with a fade-in are few and far between.

One that barely qualifies is “Laugh Laugh,” by the Beau Brummels. This December 1964 issue came out just two months before “Eight Days a Week.”

That, however, is only one reason I say “barely.” The other is “Laugh Laugh” is a mighty quick fade-in, taking only a second to get up to a normal level. “Eight Days a Week” coincidentally takes about eight seconds to peak.

Since “Eight Days a Week” topped the charts, I went back 25 years reviewing previous No. 1 hits.

The only one I find is Eddie Fisher's “I'm Walking Behind You,” a 1953 issue with about a three second fade-in. With such a quick fade-in, I doubt listeners even noticed anything unusual.

Early 1961 is when I first heard dee jays commenting on this topic. They got my attention with remarks such as “a lot of songs fade out, but this is the first hit record we know that fades in,” a reference to “Green Grass of Texas,” by the Texans (Infinity 001).

This infectious instrumental, a Top 25 hit in Los Angeles in March '61, is the definitive slow but steady fade-in, taking a full minute to get up to its normal level. That's nearly half the way through this 2:18 track. I know of no other that takes that long, though “The Children's Marching Song” (Cyril Stapleton and His Orchestra, 1958) requires around :40 to get up to speed.

Tony Watson, of Australia, reminds us that David Seville's 1956-'57 instrumental hit, “Armen's Theme,” has a five second fade-in. It certainly qualifies for this feature.

After “Eight Days a Week,” three more examples come to mind (one of which is not “Faded Love”).

John Williams' “Theme from Jaws” (1975) uses its powerful build-up effectively to intensify the drama of the first shark attack.

In November 1976, two fade-in hits simultaneously ranked in the Billboard Top 20: “Fernando” (Abba) and “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” (Elton John). Definitely not a common occurrence.

I asked Bill Inglot, one of our industry's top record producers, about this. Here are some of his comments:

“I agree about running times being the foremost reason songs fade out. I'd estimate about half the Rock Era music recorded was prearranged for fading by the studio engineer after running the desired amount of time, usually under three minutes.

“Also, fades are more common in Rock music than with Pop, Country, Jazz, or Big Band recordings.

“Those that don't fade are known to have “cold” endings.”

Refusing to merely fade away, our ending today is appropriately cold.

IZ ZAT SO? Hardly anyone listening to the radio in 1961 knew it, but the Texans, of “Green Grass of Texas” fame, were really the famous Burnette brothers, Johnny and Dorsey. They are properly accredited as co-writers, just not as performers.

Releasing this instrumental as the Texans is likely because Johnny and Dorsey were both under contract to other labels at the time.

When “Green Grass of Texas” made its chart debut, Johnny's “Little Boy Sad” (Liberty 55298) was in the Top 20, and Dorsey's “Hard Rock Mine” (Era 3041) had just been released.

Being a non-singing Texan was probably a good idea at the time.

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