Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: As far back as I can remember, I have heard “The Object of My Affection.” My parents used to playfully sing it to each other. It was probably “their song.”

One version they often played was by someone named Pinky. I think they also had a recording of it by Dean Martin.

I don't know who wrote the clever lyrics, but it seems they may have restricted the number of singers who would sing “the object of my affection can change my complexion, from white to rosy red.”

I know Dino is white, and I assume Pinky is also, which raises this question:

Has any non-white singer recorded this song? If so, how did they handle this peculiar line about the simple act of blushing?
—Ruth De Rosa, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR RUTH: This is a colorful observation, one to which I have given no thought until now.

Written in 1934 by Pinky Tomlin, Coy Poe and Jimmy Grier, “The Object of My Affection” became a No. 1 hit late that year for Jimmie Grier's Coconut Grove Orchestra, featuring Pinky Tomlin's vocal (Brunswick 7308).

Also, two 1935 films include Pinky's recording in their soundtracks: “Times Square Lady” and “One More Spring.”

Three others reaching the Top 10 with cover versions are: the Boswell Sisters (Brunswick 7348); Jan Garber and His Orchestra (vocal by Lee Bennett) (Victor 24809); and the Glen Gray Orchestra (vocal by Pee Wee Hunt) (Decca 298).

Many non-charting versions also exist. Here are just a few: Ambrose and His Orchestra; Border Blasters; Frankie Carle; Dick Contino; Jonathan and Darlene Edwards (a.k.a., Paul Weston and Jo Stafford); Four Preps; Arthur Godfrey; Sammy Kaye; Russ Morgan and His Orchestra; Floyd Robinson; Stolen Sweets; Elaine Stritch; Lawrence Welk; Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra (vocals by Johnny Hauser and Peggy Healy); and even Faron Young (with the Jordanaires).

Each of the above is sung by a Caucasian, as are most folks who recorded Pinky's most famous tune.

Still, I did locate and audition three versions by black artists, and they do vary with regard to that one line.

One is by Lionel Hampton, the venerable vibraphonist. Though he rarely sang on his records, he does his own crooning on a 1937 release (Victor 25699) of “The Object of My Affection.”

Another is by Freddy Taylor, a guest vocalist on several tracks by jazz guitarist extraordinaire, Django Reinhardt. One such session with Django (1937) yielded their rendition of “The Object of My Affection.”

Both Hampton and Taylor make the somewhat appropriate lyrical modification: “the object of my affection can change my complexion, from brown to rosy red.”

The third example, by Ralph Marterie's Orchestra featuring the Vagabonds, does not make the substitution (Mercury 5759).

This quartet, formerly known as the Four Vagabonds, is best known for their World War 2 tribute song to “Rosie the Riveter,” a wartime anthem for all women in the labor force.

For “The Object of My Affection,” these guys stick with the original morph “from white to rosy red.”

IZ ZAT SO? From a trivia standpoint, here's one for the record books.

January 1935 began with “The Object of My Affection” by Jimmie Grier's Orchestra (vocal by Pinky Tomlin) as the nation's No. 1 hit.

That January ended with another version of “The Object of My Affection” topping the charts, this one by the Boswell Sisters — backed by Jimmie Grier and His Orchestra.

Jimmie Grier and his band then claimed the distinction of providing orchestration on records by two completely different vocal acts, both of which reached No. 1 in the same month.

Since Grier is also a co-writer of this hit, his 1935 got off to a very prosperous start.

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