Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: From way out in left field comes my questions, which I hope you can answer at least some of.

For a class project, I am making a list of a dozen very popular songs that have been issued in America, Britain, and other English speaking lands. However, each is said to have English lyrics added to a melody from songs originally issued in other countries, and in other languages.

Can you find out the original European composition, and give me that title?

It would be a much appreciated bonus if you can say whether or not the titles are the same, when translated, as the English ones we know them as.

Here is my list:
"There's No Tomorrow"
"You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"
"Let It Be Me"
"Ask Me"
"There's a Time"
"My Way"
"Beyond the Sea"
"Softly, As I Leave You"
"Can't Help Falling in Love"
"What Now My Love"
"My Boy"
—Johnny Randolph, Winter Haven, Fla

DEAR JOHNNY: Have you considered that your teacher may also read this and know who helped with this project?

It is interesting that all but one of these tunes originated in either Italy or France.

"There's No Tomorrow" is based on the Italian "O Solo Mio" (literally: Oh My Sun). Of course, an uptempo rendition of this melody is the basis for "It's Now Or Never."

"You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" is based on the Italian "Io Che Non Vivo Senza Té" (literally: I Who Don't Live Without You).

"Let It Be Me" is based on the French "Je t'Appartiens" (literally: I Belong to You).

"Ask Me" is based on the Italian "Io" (literally: Me).

"There's a Time" is based on the German "Muss I denn" (literally: Must I Then). Another song using this same melody is "Wooden Heart."

"Surrender" is based on the Italian "Torna a Surriento" (literally: Come Back to Sorrento).

"My Way" is based on the French "Comme d'Habitude" (literally: Like Usual).

"Beyond the Sea" is based on the French "La Mer" (literally: The Sea).

"Softly, As I Leave You" is based on the Italian "Piano" (literally: Softly)

"Can't Help Falling in Love" is based on the French "Plaisir d'Amour" (literally: Pleasure of Love)

"What Now My Love" is based on the French "Et Maintenemt" (literally: And Now).

"My Boy" is based on the French "Parce Que Je t'aime Mon Enfant" (literally: Because I Love You My Child).

As you see, more often than not there is little similiarity between the English adaptation and the literal translation of the original title.

DEAR JERRY: I have been trying for decades to find the name of an old song that had to do with the love affair of a lobster and a crab.

One line I recall goes like this: "Lobsters walk sideways and crabs walk straight." The parents were trying to explain why the two of them would not be compatible for this very reason.

I tell people about this song and they think I'm nuts. Maybe you will too. If you have any idea what I'm talking about I would appreciate hearing from you.
—John MacKenzie, via e-mail.

DEAR JOHN: Any nuttiness on your part must be based on other things, because you are right about there being such a song - though your crustaceans and their transit patterns are reversed. It is "Crabs Walk Sideways (And Lobsters Walk Straight)."

The version most familiar to me is by the Smothers Brothers, on their 1964 LP, "It Must Have Been Something I Said" (Mercury 20904).

Couldn't they work around nature's obstacle to interspecies dating by having the crab face sideways when walking? It would then move along parallel to the straight-walking lobster?

IZ ZAT SO? From the '50s through the '70s, three songs sung in a foreign language reached No. 1 on the US charts.

They are "Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)," by Domenico Modugno (Italian, 1958), "Sukiyaki," by Kyu Sakamoto (Japanese, 1963), and "Dominique," by the Singing Nun (French, 1963).

Some with foreign language titles also reached the top, but are sung partly or mostly in English (i.e. "Vaya Con Dios" and "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart.")

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