A year ago, I wrote a long article for my personal website about an obscure, totally odd – but wonderful song from over 50 years ago. For reasons I couldn’t explain, the article started getting a lot of viewers and comments the last few weeks. How in the world people knew to track it down was beyond me. Then I found out.
One of those visitors, Lisa Mateas, wrote a comment after that original piece and explained that I'd probably be getting a lot of hits on the song. The reason, it turns out, is that Apple has started using an “approximation” of the song, and it’s caught the public’s attention. So, wanting to know much more about what that odd song is, people have searched it out online. The song, as became clear, is none other than “Chicken Fat.” Yes, that one!
(It turns out that Ms. Mateas has written about the song, as well. If you're interested, click here.)
Know that the song you’re hearing in the ad is not the original, but a copy. The original – ah, that’s the wonderful story that got me to write about it. The singer in the original was Robert Preston, and the songwriter is none other than Meredith Willson, who wrote the show that brought Preston to great stardom, The Music Man. For the ad, Apple has used someone to impersonate Preston and used a musical arrangement that’s very close.
So, for people who’ve seen the ad and are wondering…what in the world???!! Now they've been able to track down the tale and find out.
There's a small, side not to all of this. Several years ago, I sent a copy of the song back home to my elderly parents. My dad started playing it on his computer, blasting it out (which is the only way to listen to “Chicken Fat…”). A couple minutes later, my mother came wandering in, “What in the world is that??” she asked and stayed, staring at the speakers. And then halfway through, their caregiver who was working that day, even she wandered in. “What is that??!!” she asked, as well. And all three just kept listening, mesmerized to Robert Preston’s virtuoso performance of this totally odd, little, obscure song. A song that people of that generation who were little kids still remember to this day.
If you are new to these hallways and haven't read the article before, or want to refresh your memory or perhaps hear the song again, here’s the tale about it all – along with the real, original and entire recording. Just click this link.
It’s quite a remarkable recording – 6-1/2 minutes long. So, if you’ve only heard the ad, you haven’t heard “Chicken Fat.” And you most definitely haven’t heard it done right, by Robert Preston.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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