Friday, November 28, 2014

I Wonder Why

Shabbat Thanksgiving 2014: On this happy day, known in America as Black Friday, Abq Jew is very happy to present to you, his dear readers, this video of Dion and the Belmonts singing their first hit, I Wonder Why.

And if you, too, wonder why, Abq Jew will explain:

No particular reason. It's just a happy video.

Who are Dion and the Belmonts? Wikipedia tells us:
Dion and the Belmonts were a leading American vocal group of the late 1950s. All members were from the Bronx, New York City. 
The group formed when Dion DiMucci, lead singer (born July 18, 1939), joined The Belmonts – Carlo Mastrangelo, bass-baritone (born October 5, 1938), Fred Milano, second tenor (August 22, 1939 – January 1, 2012), and Angelo D'Aleo, first tenor (born February 3, 1940), in late 1957. 
The name The Belmonts was derived from the fact that two of the four singers lived on Belmont Avenue in the Bronx, and the other two lived near Belmont Avenue.
About Dion, Wikipedia tells us:
Dion was born to an Italian-American family in the Bronx, New York. 
As a child, he accompanied his father, Pasquale DiMucci, a vaudeville entertainer, on tour, and developed a love of country music – particularly the work of Hank Williams. 
He also developed a fondness for the blues and doo-wop musicians he heard performing in local bars and on the radio. 
His singing was honed on the street corners and local clubs of the Bronx, where he and other neighborhood singers created a cappella riffs.
Dion's career - and life - had its ups and downs. And then ...
In 1968, as a solo performer, Dion recorded Abraham, Martin and John, written by Dick Holler. 
It is a tribute to social change icons, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr, John F Kennedy and Robert F Kennedy. It was written as a response to the assassination of King and the younger Kennedy in April and June 1968. 
When producer Phil Gernhard initially presented the song to DiMucci, the latter didn't care for it. With the persistence of Gernhard, and Dion's wife Susan, he flew to New York that summer. He recorded the song in just one take. 
Laurie Records released the single in September of that year and it quickly raced up the charts, peaking at number four in December. DiMucci, now a star again, was invited to sing this comeback hit on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, as well as many other top shows.
And as for I Wonder Why, Wikipedia tells us:
I Wonder Why is a doo-wop song, written by Maxwell Anderson (lyrics) and Ricardo Weeks, and first recorded by Dion and the Belmonts (released as Laurie Records' first single, number 3013), becoming the group's first national pop chart hit, in 1958. 
It is sung from the point of view of a man telling his girlfriend that he loves her but does not know why. The song is noted for Carlo Mastrangelo singing the bass part in rhythm.
Dion was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. The Belmonts, for reasons that Abq Jew cannot even begin to understand, were not.

Nevertheless, Dion said of the Belmonts:
I'd give 'em sounds. I'd give 'em parts and stuff. 
That's what 'I Wonder Why' was about. 
We kind of invented this percussive rhythmic sound. If you listen to that song, everybody was doing something different. 
There's four guys, one guy was doing bass, I was singing lead, one guy's going 'ooh wah ooh', and another guy's doing tenor. 
It was totally amazing. When I listen to it today, often times I think, 
"Man, those kids are talented."

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

No comments: