Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Last year, your annual unsolved whodunit was about the unidentified singer of the theme song of the film “Casino Royale.”

Having not seen any mention of this in your column since then, I assume no one came through for you.

Well, after a great deal of networking and hunch-playing, I not only know who the singer is, but just received a personal e-mail from him. His name is Michael Redway, and here is his letter:

“Yes, I am the singer of the vocal version of “Casino Royale.”

“The vocal track was recorded at the same time as the film track, done live on the set. We recorded at CTS Studios Queensway, conducted by the great man himself, Burt Bacharach. What a thrill it was!

“I don't know why I didn't get credited [on either the album or the film]. I suppose I could blame it on my management at the time.

“Thank you for your interest. I hope this information is useful.”

Mike also mentioned that he was once the lead singer of the Mike Sammes Singers.

I will be anxious to see what the musical mystery for 2003 turns out to be.
—Wyl E. Cyote, via e-mail.

DEAR WYL: Thanks to your investigative diligence — and also that of Chester Prudhomme — one of our most difficult musical mysteries is now solved.

Besides the stint with the Mike Sammes Singers, Redway made a number of solo recordings, including the 1973 hit, “Good Morning” (Philips 40720).

DEAR JERRY: My parents were quite fond of Dinah Washington, and with all that exposure growing up I developed an appreciation for her unique voice and style.

Two of her songs, which I first heard in the '60s though they may have been issued earlier, have a nearly identical message — being faithful to a man whose away from home.

One is the renowned “Ain't Misbehavin,” recorded by many folks over the years.

The other song is the one I'd like your help identifying. In it, as in “Ain't Misbehavin',” Dinah is staying home listening to the radio and not out fooling around. She “don't even go to a picture show.”

This may not be much to go on but I've seen you solve questions with even fewer clues.
—Maggie Doran, Evanston, Ill.

DEAR MAGGIE: It is nice to see the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Learning to dig Dinah is an excellent endowment from your parents.

Your detailed description of the tune made my job easy. This mysterious song is “Keepin' Out of Mischief Now.”

Apart from the I'm-lonely-but-faithful storyline, this and “Ain't Misbehavin'” are similar in that both were written by Fats Waller.

Dinah Washington's tribute CD, “The Fats Waller Songbook” (Emarcy 042281-89302-5), is fairly easy to find, and it has these two plus 10 more Waller compositions — including, of course, “Honeysuckle Rose.”

These tracks originally came out by Dinah on vinyl in 1957.

DEAR JERRY: At a recent meeting of our local American Legion, a debate arose about the year and original version of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Ole Oak Tree.”

One of our WW2 vets claims it came out in the '40s, but most felt it to be from the '70s.

Who is right?

Also, what is the significance of the color yellow?
—Retired Colonel in Western Kentucky

DEAR COLONEL: The majority is correct. Written in 1972 and issued early in '73 by Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Ole Oak Tree” went straight to No 1, then on to be one of the biggest hits of that decade.

When first written, the ribbons were white, but a single syllable word didn't flow well so they wisely changed the color to yellow.

Your fellow Legionnaire may be confusing this tune with “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” a popular song in the late '40s that I think had been around since the Civil War.

IZ ZAT SO? In 1998, Yvette Freeman's acclaimed play “Dinah Was,” based on the life of Dinah Washington, won the OBIE award — the Off-Broadway equivalent to the TONY.

Freeman is widely known to fans of NBC-TV's “ER” for her role as nurse Haleh Adams.

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