Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I am certainly not the only one who listens closely to the messages and philosophies expressed in song lyrics, just the only one I know. Perhaps you also pay close attention to the subtle intercommunication in popular music.

One such example is a song that was used as the theme for a TV series a few years back. I don't recall the name of the show, which was only on for one season or so, but it featured WW2 stories and was set in the mid-'40s.

The opening theme, which I'm hoping you can identify, is about “accentuating the positives and eliminating the negatives.”

Finally, do you have a favorite lyric that you feel greatly expresses some philosophy?
—Dorothy Menezie, Fort Collins, Colo.

DEAR DOROTHY: First, let's refresh your memory about the TV show you describe. Titled “Homefront,” it held an ABC prime time slot for a little longer than you thought — three seasons to be exact (1991 through 1993).

You are right about the message of its upbeat theme, though the spelling is a little tricky. It is “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive.”

Originally written by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen for the Bing Crosby-Betty Hutton film, “Here Come the Waves,” Mercer's own recording of “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive” reached No. 1 and dominated the charts in early 1945.

“Here Come the Waves” (women in the Navy, not undulating water), like “Homefront,” follows a WW2 soap opera story line. The action in both is more of the boy-girl variety than what's happening on the front lines.

Doris Chavez, of Greendale, Wisconsin, also wrote asking about “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive,” and I trust that question is also now answered.

There are hundreds of priceless lines found in songs, but since you ask for just one I will go with “If everything just came easy, we'd never know it when we'd won.” Think about it.

This precious gem is from “Everybody Needs a Rainbow,” a 1974 hit by the multi-talented Ray Stevens.

DEAR JERRY: I know it was very common in the 1950s and early '60s to find a soundtrack or original cast album topping the charts. Ones like “West Side Story” and “The Sound of Music” immediately come to mind.

After the mid-'60s British Invasion, soundtracks and casts seemed to slip far into the background.

What I'm wondering is did soundtracks ever make a comeback? How many have reached No. 1 since their heyday?
—Joel Chrisman, Lancaster, Pa.

DEAR JOEL: You may be surprised to learn that soundtracks (movie and TV) and cast albums did not slip into the background at all.

In fact, the third No. 1 LP of 1964 — following the first two Capitol Beatles albums — is the “Hello Dolly” original cast. Though not a soundtrack, the next No. 1 LP is worth mentioning since it is Louis Armstrong's “Hello Dolly.”

More than half of the eight No. 1 LPs in 1965 are film soundtracks: “Roustabout; Mary Poppins; Goldfinger; Help,” and “The Sound of Music.”

The genre remained just as popular after the British Invasion, as evidenced by all of these chart toppers: “Doctor Zhivago” (1966). “Magical Mystery Tour”; “The Graduate” (1968). “TCB”; “Hair” (1969). “Let It Be” (1970). “Jesus Christ Superstar”; “Shaft” (1971). “Superfly” (1972). “Lady Sings the Blues”; “Aloha from Hawaii, Via Satellite” (1973). “The Sting” (1974). “That's the Way of the World” (1975). “A Star Is Born” (1977). “Saturday Night Fever”; “Grease” (1978). “Chariots of Fire” (1982). “Flashdance” (1983). “Footloose”; “Purple Rain” (1984). “Beverly Hills Cop”; “Miami Vice” (1985). “Top Gun” (1986). “La Bamba”; “Dirty Dancing” (1987). “Rattle and Hum” (1988); “Batman” (1989); “Wayne's World”; “The Bodyguard” (1992); “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993); “The Crow”; “The Lion King”; “Murder Was the Case” (1994). “Friday”; “Pocahontas”; “Dangerous Minds” (1995). “Waiting to Exhale” (1996). “Gridlock'd”; “Private Parts”; “Men in Black” (1997). “Titanic”; “City of Angels”; “Armageddon” (1998).

IZ ZAT SO? The 1948 MGM release of the “Words and Music” (E-505) is the first long playing vinyl soundtrack album to reach No. 1.

Since the LP did not exist before 1948, most earlier “albums” are merely a binder containing several 78 rpm singles.

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