Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Your recent column about those Magic Records fascinated me.

But your mention of “Fortune Teller,” by the Fontane Sisters, having four completely different endings left me quite curious.

Did this record become a hit? If so, did the dee jays know which of the four versions would play when the needle hit the grooves?

I suppose they could have made a single-track edition for radio stations, but which of the four endings would be the one selected?

Are the endings along the lines of “he loves me,” and “he loves me not.”? Any chance you can tell us what the fortune teller says in each reading?
—Carla Mijanou, Waukegan, Ill.

DEAR MADAM MIJANOU: Yes, I do remember you — the carnival fortune teller from “Roustabout.”

Five separate questions about four different endings is a first for this feature!

“The Fortune Teller Song” (RCA Victor 4106), issued in April 1951 on both 45 and 78 rpm, did not become a hit anywhere. Unlike their other releases at the time, I doubt “The Fortune Teller Song” even got played on the radio.

The sisters, Bea, Marge, and Geri, had four chart hits on RCA that year: “Tennessee Waltz” (3979); “Let Me In” (4077); “Castle Rock” (4213); and “Cold, Cold Heart” (4274).

“The Fortune Teller Song” came out right in the middle of these, but is mighty different in a way that is caused by — but not about — the four endings.

A conventional single at the time could easily accommodate four minutes of music, though most recordings ran between 2:00 and 3:00.

For this discussion, let's assume a disc capacity of four minutes.

Adding a second parallel track means each must be no longer than two minutes.

Having four tracks cuts the length of each to a minute, or less.

Thus, each of the four complete versions of “The Fortune Teller Song” runs just 56 seconds.

Here is the first 43 seconds, which is identical on all four tracks:

“I'll tell your fortune said a gypsy
I'll read it in the stars above
For in the starry skies are written
The mysteries of life and love
Now I will tell you what your fate will be
I gaze into the distant future
And find the answer there for you”

Then comes one of these four different readings:

1. “Tonight's the night of many heartaches Beware, beware of love untrue”

2. “You'll meet a tall and dark-haired stranger Who'll steal your heart away from you”

3. “A friend you have now forgotten Will leave a fortune all to you”

4. “Someday you'll take a distant journey To where your dreams will all come true”

Notice how each reading gets more promising.

DEAR JERRY: I need your help to buy music I can't identify. In fact, I can't even sing it to anyone because it is an instrumental.

All I can say is it gets played a lot at sporting events, perhaps as much of a rally cry as Gary Glitter's “Rock and Roll” did before being banned.

This piece is heavily synthesized and has a hard-thumping disco beat, and seems to get the crowd on its feet, clapping and stomping.

It must be on CD, but what do I ask for?
—Murray Kittles, Arnold, Mo.

DEAR MURRAY: I am not making this up! You are looking for “Zombie Nation,” by Kernkraft 400.

First issued in Germany, in 2000, “Zombie Nation” became a huge favorite of the European club scene.

It still is, though the tune's ability to excite the home crowds has also made it essential in many sports arenas.

Now armed with the details you will have no trouble finding a CD, of which there are several.

One I can recommend is “Zombie Nation” (Radikal 689289902726), a Maxi-Single CD with the original version plus three alternative remixes.

Best of all is this CD can easily be found online for under $4.00.

IZ ZAT SO? When the Fontane Sisters recorded “The Fortune Teller Song,” they could have never known of the good fortune awaiting them four years later when they signed with Dot Records.

On February 5, 1955, their “Hearts of Stone” (Dot 15265) became what many believe to be the first Rock & Roll record to reach No. 1 on any of the Pop charts.

There will be no argument from me regarding that point.

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