Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Born in 1950, and being a Paula, you can imagine I was shocked the first time I heard Paul & Paula's “Hey Paula.” Before then, I never once heard my name in a song, much less the title.

Even Steve Lawrence's “Girls, Girls, Girls,” which you wrote about last year, does not include Paula r— and this tune mentions over 100 names of girls!

Against all odds, at the same time as “Hey Paula,” Dickey Lee came along with “Don't Wanna Think About Paula.”

Naturally I bought both of these right away. But there is another Paul & Paula song, titled “Dear Paula,” but I can't seem to find it anywhere.

Though not in the title, Paul & Paula also referred to each other by name in “Young Lovers,” their second hit.

Before “Hey Paula,” did any boy-girl duo have a No. 1 pop/rock hit? I can't thank of a one.
—Paula Blake, Gettysburg, Pa.

DEAR PAULA: Actually, we'll deal with “Dear Paula” later. Let's start with “Hey Paula.”

You can't think of one because there isn't one, at least not in your lifetime. Paul & Paula became the first male-female vocal duo since the 1940s with a No. 1 pop hit!

Right after their success, many others followed, including: Nino Tempo & April Stevens (“Deep Purple”); Dale & Grace (“I'm Leaving It Up to You”); Sonny & Cher (“I Got You Babe”); Nancy & Frank Sinatra (“Somethin' Stupid”), etc. Still, “Hey Paula” outsold all the others and became the No. 1 male-female duo hit of the entire '60s decade.

Excluded as per your question are same gender vocal duos (Everly Brothers); instrumental duos (Santo & Johnny); and duos with only one singer (Les Paul & Mary Ford).

Now for some material for an “Overnight Sensation” scrapbook for all Paulas:

For four weeks in 1963 (March 10 through April 6) “Hey Paula,” “Don't Wanna Think About Paula,” and “Young Lovers” were all on the nation's charts. Your name was on the air everywhere!

The only other girl's names in hit titles at that time were: “Alice in Wonderland” (Neil Sedaka); “Amy” (Paul Petersen); “Linda” (Jan & Dean); “What Will My Mary Say” (Johnny Mathis); “Ruby Baby” (Dion); and “Sandy” (Dion). Yet none of these reached the heights of “Hey Paula.”

Two different songs on the chart with the same girl's name in the titles is not common, nor is it unheard of.

For example, in late February as “Hey Paula” sat at No. 1, Jan & Dean (“Linda”) and Dickie Lee (“I Saw Linda Yesterday”) both charted with separate serenades to Linda.

What is very atypical is seeing the same artist, in this case Dicky Lee, with consecutive releases of hit songs (“I Saw Linda Yesterday” and “Don't Wanna Think About Paula”), each of which is one of two simultaneous hits (one by Lee, the other by someone else) containing the same girl's name r— first Linda and then Paula.

Everybody got that?

“Dear Paula,” issued in 1965 (Philips 40296), is an unusual and fascinating recording. With the original “Hey Paula” playing in the background, Paul first reads his letter written to Paula, then she reads her reply to Paul.

In this story, they haven't seen each other in quite some time and both reminisce fondly about their real-life experiences and adventures in 1963 and '64.

Let's take a peek at their mail:

PAUL: “Remember on the Dick Clark show [1963], when we began to pantomime our record [“Hey Paula”] it started to skip and everyone started laughing? Dick said that was the first time he'd ever seen anything happen like that.”

PAULA: “It seems like yesterday when we made our records and started our travels all over the world. Do you remember on Bandstand when they gave us the Gold Records [1963], and they dropped one? I thought it was the end of the world.”

“Dear Paula,” along with all of their essential tunes, can be had on the easily available 31-track CD, “Greatest Hits” (Underground 103324).

IZ ZAT SO? Several weeks before “Hey Paula” hit the charts, the same song came out by the same pair, but using their real first names: Jill (Jackson) & Ray (Hildebrand).

Copies of the Jill & Ray original (Le Cam 979) now bring $70 to $100, compared to about $10 for the smash hit crediting Paul & Paula (Philips 40084).

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