Well, this song had me stumped since around 1970. It took Shazam just 10 seconds to identify it.
In 1981, I recorded a Dixieland jazz piece that was playing on KLON in Long Beach, Calif. I didn’t hear the name of the song or the performers. But if I had to guess, I would have said it was from the ’20s or ’30s, recorded in New Orleans, and entitled ‘Fare Thee Well.'”
Wrong, wrong and wrong.
Thirty-five years later, after an internet search on some of the lyrics, I finally found it. I was directed first to a song called “Mama’s Gone, Goodbye,” recorded by Peggy Lee. Right song, but not the recording I was looking for.
I found many different versions of the song on YouTube, some of which dated to the mid-1920s, including one sung by Sippie Wallace and a recording from a piano roll made by the song’s composer.
The recording I was looking for turned out to be from a 1960s-era jazz revival band, Big Bill Bissonnette and the Easy Riders Jazz Band, with Victoria Spivey on vocals. They were based in Connecticut, of all places, and the recording was made in Wallingford (hometown of my Yale ancestors) on August 9, 1964.
Here it is:
“Falling in Love”
I taped this song off the radio in 1982, and had never known who the singer was — until today. It was a mystery to me, and I believe it was that air of mystery that helped make this one of my favorite country-pop songs of the 1980s.
I had been pretty sure the name of the song must be “Falling in Love” (or perhaps “Fallin’ in Love”), for obvious reasons. But searches under that name never turned up this song.
I thought her voice sounded a little like Donna Fargo, but I couldn’t find it in her discography. Just an obscure song by an obscure singer, I had concluded.
Occasionally I would search on a snippet of lyrics from the song, without success. Until today. I tried again, and this time I got hits for a Juice Newton song called “Falling in Love” — and the lyrics matched. So while it might have been an obscure song, it turns out that the singer is pretty well known.
“Falling in Love” was a track from Juice Newton’s 1982 album “Quiet Lies,” and it was written by two of Nashville’s leading songwriters, Wayland Holyfield and Bob McDill. I shouldn’t have been surprised, since McDill, in particular, wrote some of my favorite songs from that era.
I still think it is a little gem of a song, even if the mystery is gone.