My Heart Cries for Mitch Miller

mitch millerMitch Miller, the musical maven of middle-of-the-road pop who died in Manhattan Saturday at 99, became a household name via his early-’60s TV show Sing Along With Mitch . Long before that, he — along with Frank Sinatra and a guy named Al Cernick — provided my dad, songwriter Carl Sigman, with the flukiest hit of his career.

in 1950, Carl and composer/orchestra leader Percy Faith–perhaps most famous for his1960 recording of Theme From a Summer Place–were good friends and often went to the racetrack (“the trotters”) at Long Island’s Roosevelt Field to blow off some steam. An old French tune that played repeatedly on the track’s PA haunted Percy. One day, he jokingly asked Carl if he thought they could write a hit song in 10 minutes using that melodic phrase.

They did just that, and My Heart Cries For You was the result. The minute Miller heard a demo of the song, the then Columbia Records’ super-producer recognized it as a smash waiting to happen. He quickly marshaled his orchestra to rehearse an arrangement for Frank Sinatra. When Frank showed up for the session and passed on the song, Mitch had to scramble. Luckily, close at hand was a young demo singer named Al Cernick, and Mitch had him sing the song with the already-prepared arrangement.

The name Al Cernick would never do, however. Al was a nice guy, so Mitch gave him the first name “Guy.” He added his own first name and before long My Heart Cries For You by Guy Mitchell was the Number 2 record in the country. It’s been covered over the years by dozens of artists including Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Ben E. King, Connie Francis and Dinah Washington. And nicely sent up by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis!

Not bad for a song that takes almost as long to sing as it did to write.

Michael Sigman

Michael Sigman is a writer/ editor, media consultant and the president of Major Songs, a music publishing company.

Crossposted from Huffington Post with the author’s permission.

Published by the LA Progressive on August 4, 2010
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About Michael Sigman

Michael Sigman is a writer/ editor, media consultant and the president of Major Songs, a music publishing company.

Prior to his current activities, Sigman was the president and publisher of LA Weekly, the nation’s largest alternative newsweekly, from 1990-2002. He joined LA Weekly in 1983 as general manager and was named publisher the following year.

Sigman was also the founding publisher of OC Weekly, sister paper to LA Weekly, when it was launched in 1995.

Prior to joining LA Weekly, Sigman was a music journalist, and served as a reporter, then managing editor, then editor-in-chief of Record World Magazine, a leading music industry weekly, from 1971 to 1982.

Michael Sigman graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude, with a BA in Philosophy, from Bucknell University in 1971. He currently serves on several Boards, including InsightLA and Society for Singers, and is Chairman of the Board of the Wright Institute, a non-profit psychoanalytic institute which provides inexpensive long-term psychotherapy to the poor.