TWO'S COMPANY


When I got a phone call from my music publisher, David Platz, asking if I would be interested in writing a television theme song with Sammy Cahn, I told him that not only would I clear my appointment book to meet, let alone work with The Great Man, I thought I might be willing to marry him.  London Weekend Television was producing a new comedy series starring Elaine Stritch and Donald Sinden and wanted an original song for the opening and closing credits. It had to be recorded within the next two weeks. Sammy had only a brief window in which we could meet and work, he was en route from Paris to New York but would be staying overnight at Claridges on Friday and available the following morning. I immediately read the script, and although I knew pretty much every song Sammy Cahn had ever written, backwards and inside and out, for the next two days I listened to Sinatra albums to get myself in the mood. By the time I drove up to Claridges at 11:00 o’clock on Saturday morning to meet Sammy, I had two possible tunes for him.

He was waiting in the lobby. I recognized him immediately and introduced myself, sucessfully resisting the urge to kiss his feet and tell him how much I loved his lyric for “The Second Time Around”.

"Hey! How are ya? Where we goin’?” Sammy said, already heading for the door, me scurrying to catch up, and off we drove to Essex Studios in central London. I asked if he’d had time to read the script. He waved his hand.

“Nah--I know what they want. No problem.”

At the studio, a piano, two chairs, a yellow legal pad and two sharpened pencils awaited. We were the only ones there. Sammy picked up the pad and one of the pencils and said “So whatcha got for me?”

I  started to play my first tune. After a few bars he stopped me.

“Hey I like that, play that again!” he said and started scribbling. “Play some more!” he said, so I did, and by the time I’d got to the end of the tune he was finishing jotting his lyric, which he then asked me to sing, which I did. His lyric was absolutely spot-on perfect. Witty, beautifully rhymed, it fit the Elaine Stritch and Donald Sinden characters to a tee. The whole collaboration took approximately ten minutes, after which Sammy said “Ya got anything else?”,  I played him Tune #2 and the process repeated itself, this time resulting in a lyric with a totally different approach but equally perfect and I had him back at Claridges within forty-five minutes. We said goodbye, he went to the airport and I drove home to Hampstead, dazed and euphoric and feeling terribly pleased with myself until my then wife asked “Where’s the dog?”, which I’d forgotten to collect from the vet’s, and also if I’d remembered to pick up the flowers she’d ordered for my mother’s birthday (no).

Song #1 was chosen by Elaine Stritch and she and Donald Sinden recorded it one--memorable--evening, a few weeks later. But that’s another story.  Denis King 

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Key Changes

Black Beauty

Fact of the Day

In the early 60s a young unknown band called The Beatles came to see The King Bros at the Liverpool Empire, asked for their autographs, and invited them to a party, which Denis couldn't be bothered to attend and is still kicking himself.

King Brothers Album

Listening Post

Rainbow's End - Doris Day Vocal


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