Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Dance Party: Tell Me All Your Secrets (And I'll Tell You Most of Mine)

There have been several deaths recently from the music world, and regular visitors to these pages know the weekly Dance Party is often inspired by dead people. This week is no exception.

Andrew Gold

He was destined for a musical career, as he sprang from one of Hollywood's best known musical marriages. His father was composer Ernest Gold, who scored It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, On The Beach, and Exodus, for which he won the Oscar. His mother was (and is) Marni Nixon, who was, in the 50s, the Go-To Gal whenever a movie star was cast in a musical but could not hit the notes (we heard her cover for Natalie Wood in West Side Story, for Deborah Kerr in The King And I, and for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady). So it was no surprise that Andrew went into the family business, and he became well-known as a studio musician. He played various instruments on recordings by James Taylor, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Celine Dion, John Lennon, Carly Simon, Wynona Judd, Trisha Yearwood, The Eagles, Loudon Wainwright III, and Cher. His guitar work contributed to Linda Ronstadt's first hit album, "Heart Like A Wheel," and he played all the instruments behind Art Garfunkle's version of "I Only Have Eyes For You," which hit #1 in Britain.
He had some success as a solo performer as well, reaching #7 in 1977 with "Lonely Boy." That tune was later used as one of the background songs in Boogie Nights:

Gold's most recognizable work was re-recorded by Cynthia Fee when it was snagged as the theme song for a decidedly estrogentric sitcom of the 80s:

In 1992, he sang one of the greatest, but most overlooked, TV theme songs, which provides this week's Dance Party. Mad About You was the brain child of comedian Paul Reiser (who actually co-wrote the title number, and played piano on the recording). It concerned a young married couple negotiating the trials of marriage and career in New York. The show was one of the workhorses for NBC throughout the 90s, receiving lots of Emmy love for star Helen Hunt (who won four years in a row as Best Actress in a Comedy Series), as well as providing Guest Performance Awards to Carl Reiner, Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks (3 years running) and Cyndi Lauper (twice running). But Mad About You' s light touch with comedy was overshadowed by the gigantic gorilla which was Seinfeld, and is largely dismissed today. That's a shame, as it was, at least until that final season, a fine example of character-based comedic writing and performing.

And its theme song, "The Final Frontier," remains one of my favorites. Andrew Gold recorded the tune, which was used under the show's credits for several years, until jazz great Anita Baker recorded a new version. Click the link for this week's Dance Party, which has Gold performing the theme song from Mad About You at a live concert. He died this week at the age of 59.