Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: There's a song by Mel Tillis that I can't find anywhere. Maybe you can help me.

It begins with his boss sending him out of town on business, to Texas I think.

There he meets a willing woman, but, being married, he chooses not have an affair.
—Richard Jonen, Elkhorn, Wis.

DEAR RICHARD: Despite a couple of discrepancies, one of which is colossal, I believe the song you seek is "Send Me Down to Tucson" (MCA 40983), a big hit in early 1979. The original single can quickly be found online for about two bucks. It is also on several Mel Tillis albums.

"Send Me Down to Tucson" is from the 1978 movie, "Every Which Way But Loose," starring Clint Eastwood.

Not surprisingly, this tune topped the country charts in Arizona, while peaking at No. 2 on Billboard.

More significant than the mistaken destination (not Texas) are the events of the serendipitous rendezvous, as summarized by these few lines:

"No one wants to go down to Tucson in the summer
So this time the boss chose me
I've been sort of restless, guess he thought it might help if
I got away from my wife and family
There's been no other woman since the mother of my children
And in each and every way she's a lady
Now there's one that I'll remember, a sultry night we spent together
And she satisfied the love inside of me
Go on and send me down to Tucson and I'll get the job done
And call up the one whose love is free"

Should the free love become known at the company headquarters, there may be plenty of volunteers for desert duty, even in the 100-plus degree weather (at the time of this writing, it is 108 in Tucson, and 116 in Phoenix).

DEAR JERRY: Thoroughly enjoyed reading about Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller, or Jimmy Dorsey having five of the Top 10 songs.

It got me wondering how many times there were more than five versions of the same song in the Top 100, particularly in the 1950s when cover records were everywhere.

Was "Fascination" one? I know several artists recorded it.
—Lloyd Carlson, Buffalo, N.Y.

DEAR LLOYD: Topping the list, with seven separate entries (May 5, 1956) is "Man with the Golden Arm," albeit with slight variations musically as well as with the title.

In order of ranking that week, with exact title and artist, they are:

17 "Themes from The Man with the Golden Arm" (Richard Maltby and His Orchestra)
28 "Main Title & Molly O (From the Otto Preminger Film The Man with the Golden Arm)" (Dick Jacobs and His Orchestra and Chorus)
38 "Main Title from The Man with the Golden Arm" (Elmer Bernstein and Orchestra)
56 "Main Title — Golden Arm" (Les Elgart and His Orch.)
68 "Main Title (From the Film The Man with the Golden Arm)" (Billy May and His Orchestra)
69 "Delilah Jones (Based on Main Title theme from the Otto Preminger Film The Man with the Golden Arm)" (McGuire Sisters (with Dick Jacobs Orchestra and Chorus)
97 "Main Title from The Man with the Golden Arm)" (Buddy Morrow and His Orchestra)

One that didn't chart, issued about six months later, but still worth mentioning is "The Man with the Golden Arm," by Sammy Davis Jr., with Morty Stevens and Orchestra.

Several performers recorded "Fascination," but never were there more than these four charted at the same time: Jane Morgan; David Carroll; Dick Jacobs; and Dinah Shore, all in September 1955.

Twice in the '50s, six versions of the same song held Top 100 positions:

"Autumn Leaves" (November 12, 1955): (2) Roger Williams at the Piano; (44) Steve Allen with George Cates and His Orchestra; (54) Victor Young and His Singing Strings; (64) Mitch Miller, His Orch. & Chorus; (67) Jackie Gleason and His Orchestra; (100) Ray Charles Singers.

"(Moritat) Theme from The Three Penny Opera" (February 18, 1956): (13) Dick Hyman Trio; (23) Richard Hayman and Jan August; (54) Les Paul; (57) Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra; (61) Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars; (64) Lawrence Welk and His Champagne Music. Exact titles do vary.

IZ ZAT SO? Though cover versions were less common in the '60s, they still existed.

Twice in the same year, and three times overall, the Top 100 included four versions of the same song:

"Look for a Star" (June 20, 1960): (85) Dean Hawley; (88) Garry Miles; (92) Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra; (99) Gary Mills. All four made their chart debut that same week. We should also mention that Nicky Como's version was "Bubbling Under" that week, at No. 110.

"Love Is Blue (L'amour Est Bleu)" (February 24, 1968): (1) Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra; (57) Al Martino; (97) Claudine Longet; (100) Manny Kellem, His Orchestra and Voices. Exact titles do vary.

Not often will you find a chart with the same song at No. 1 and No. 100.

"Here Comes the Judge" (June 15, 1968): (19) Shorty Long; (62) Magistrates Featuring Jean Hillary; (82) Pigmeat Markham; (93) Buena Vistas. Exact titles do vary.

Return to "Mr. Music" Home Page