I had this show, "That's Amore!---Italian American Favorites", sitting on my Tivo for the longest time.
Never getting around to watching it.
It was on my local PBS station, and consumed two and a half hours of Tivo time, which meant it was probably about ninety minutes including pledge breaks.
It took me all that time to get around to watch it because it was hosted by Danny Aiello.
Never my idea of a good time.
Danny Aiello tends to go over the top in just about everything he does.
Maybe this is somebody's idea of a good time.
But not mine.
This show contained clips of just about everybody who had anything to do with singing Italian songs.
I liked all of those singers.
So I knew that at some point, the day of reckoning would come, and I'd sit down and watch this show, which would most-likely have wonderful clips, and most likely have Danny Aiello's over-the top effusiveness.
Or, to be more specific, Danny Aiello's nauseatingly over-the top effusiveness.
And a ton of pledge breaks that I would have to skip through.
But eventually, I braved the elements.
The clips were for the most part, great.
Great Italian singers like Perry Como, Julius La Rosa, Bobby Darin, Doninico Modugno ("Volare"), Vic Damone, Connie Francis, mostly in old black-and white archival footage.
The rest in fairly recent concert footage.
There, we got to see 93 year old Frankie Laine, literally at death's door, singing "That's My Desire".
And 94 year old Jew Tony Martin, singing "There's No Tomorrow".
In his case, it seemed fitting.
Although he's still around.
And other singers who weren't Italian, but made some of their bones by singing Italian songs.
That famous Italian singer Eddie Fisher, that famous Italian singer Rosemary Clooney, who was Irish and came from Kentucky.....
Okay. She did sing "Come on-a My House", which was actually Armenian, but there WAS "Mambo Italiano", which was featured prominently.
So I guess it fit.
What never fit was Danny Aiello's nauseating effusiveness.
It made me start praying for pledge breaks.
Then, about two thirds into the show, something startling happened.
At least to me.
Danny Aiello nauseatingly effusively introducing a singing group called "The Gaylords".
I wasn't expecting any surprises.
I didn't expect to see anyone I wasn't thoroughly familiar with.
But this trio comes on, in what was obviously fairly recent conert footage, singing a song called "From the Vine Came The Grape".
And it was terrific.
The lead singer had one of the worst toupees you could imagine.
But it was the kind of thing you could overlook.
That's how good they were.
My immediate thought was "Why have I, who knows everything about show business, particularly from that era, the pre rock and roll era,
never heard of the Gaylords?"
I was baffled.
I looked them up on Wikipedia, where I learned that they had the only record that made the charts on the extremely successful "Isle Of Capri".
How could I not know that?
Was I losing it?
I feared for my mental capacity.
My next thought was to go to Amazon, and see what I could find on The Gaylords.
They had one 2 CD set, that I immediately ordered.
I put it in my CD player in my car. It's terrific.
I'm traveling with my wife in the car. I have the Gaylords CD on.
My wife has always had a rather spotty history in terms of what celebrities she knows and what ones she doesn't.
Expecting nothing but ignorance on her part, I asked "Do you happen to know who's singing?"
Without missing a beat, she responds "Sounds like the Gaylords".
I was floored.
It's one thing for her to have a spotty history about celebrities.
But I DON'T have a spotty history.
I know everybody.
Or at least I thought I did.
But for HER to have knowledge that I didn't have?
About a week later, I'm driving in my car with my brother-in-law.
Someone with absolutely no show-business background.
He fixes windows for a living.
Our conversations are usually dominated by talk about sports.
We're listening to the Gaylords.
I just casually ask him if he knows who's singing.
He immediately shoots back "The Gaylords".
I was now officially in the Twilight Zone.
This does not compute.
Shortly thereafter, I sit my wife and my brother in a room and say "Okay. Are you Gaslighting me?
How come the Gaylords come trippingly off your tongues, and I never heard of them before a few weeks ago?"
One of them offers up "Well, we used to hear them on the radio all the time when we were growing up here in Detroit.
It turns out that the Gaylords were from Detroit. It was their base of operations.
They were much bigger in Detroit than anywhere else.
That's why my wife and my brother-in-law knew of them, and I didn't.
What it boiled down to was location, location, location.
My new book, "Mark Rothman's Essays", ones that were culled from the blog and are no longer there, along with a surprise bonus, is available for purchase.
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."