HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MISS McCOO
FOREVER 5th DIMENSION Celebrates “The Marilyn Solos”
by Robert-Allan Arno & the Fans
September 30th– It’s that memorable date when we get to celebrate not only the exquisite lady but “The Marilyn Solos,” those timeless recorded jewels that become impossibly more lovely with every year, just like La McCoo herself. Marilyn told me for FOREVER 5th DIMENSION that, “Even above our intensive touring, our recording sessions were always top priority.” Producer Bones Howe added, “Marilyn was so focused in the studio, all the members of The 5th Dimension were utmost professionals, but she would nail those solos of hers in a few takes, she always knew exactly where she was going.” The gracious songstress responded, “Oh, how wonderful to hear that from Bones, you know, my husband Billy (Davis, Jr.) helped me greatly with my phrasing.” And greats like Neil Sedaka (“Puppet Man,” “Workin’ on a Groovy Thing,”), Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson (“California Soul”), and Richard Addrisi (“Never My Love”) have told me for FOREVER 5th that Marilyn’s heartfelt way with a tune, from her torch treatments to more playful stylings, not only make her a beguiling star but a true “singer’s singer.” And wait, the multi-Tony award winning Audra MacDonald just cited Marilyn as an initial influence; “Marilyn McCoo has a beautiful voice,” she giggles like a kid, still enamored of the 7-time Grammy winning legend.
Of course the fans are “smitten” too and our special survey of select longtime members of the “McCoo Crew” certainly heralds a diverse array of faves. Just as REWOUND Radio this past weekend honored Marilyn’s birthday with her personal favorite solo, the transcendental “Love’s Lines, Angles and Rhymes,” Susan Aglio and Dave Maze both cast their votes for the soul-stirring “If I Could Reach You.” “I think of ‘One Less Bell to Answer’ by Burt Bacharach and Hal David as Marilyn’s signature,” firmly states Susie Paige, while Alain Baptiste recalls, “‘One Less Bell’ was a major hit on our top Soul stations like WBLS, as well as on the Pop charts.” Fans Deniserose Torres and Jonathan Weitz who just saw Marilyn & Billy sizzle at the Catalina Jazz club, share their joint account, “I’m speechless to describe Marilyn’s ‘One Less Bell,’ it’s too beautiful for any words I could come up with,” says Denise, while Jonathan concurs about the song’s “live” version, “Nothing is better than when Marilyn sings ‘One Less Bell’ to a well-deserved standing ovation!“
Brian Medoro reflects on the poignancy of “Everything’s Been Changed,” a Paul Anka-penned treatise on lost love that Loretta Sorensen adores. Sorensen, a dedicated McCoo-follower declares, “I feel so fortunate to have heard Marilyn’s music most of my life!” Marilyn laughs in her mellifluous way, “Even as a young girl, I loved a sad song. I’d be singing about ‘the man that got away’ to the refrigerator light!” “‘When Did I Lose Your Love’ is one not often mentioned,” reminds Douglas C. Charles, about Marilyn’s “velvety” take from the rare “Earthbound” album, finally re-issued on CD this past year. Another rarity is “House for Sale,” from “Soul & Inspiration.” John Estes comments about this story-song, “Every syllable is heard as she caresses the lyric.” “It wasn’t recorded, but I so strongly remember Marilyn’s in-concert version of Paul Williams’ ‘Loneliness,'” enthuses Renee Armstead. And in my recent review of Marilyn & Billy’s latest 2 volume LIVE CD, I had this to say about an all-new Marilyn showstopper:
Marilyn McCoo, whose eternal beauty seemingly reflects the incandescent soul of her silky voice, does something uncanny here. She’s found a tune from a recent Clint Eastwood movie that’s “pure Marilyn,” it seamlessly fits as an extension of her body of solos that are her fans’ cherished gems. There’s a soupcon of “Never My Love,” “If I Could Reach You,” “Open Your Window,” and more, in her spectacularly delicate yet empowered treatment of the jazzy ballad, “Why Should I Care.” Yes, McCoo should sing every theme song of every movie out there, I just bet you’ll be thinking!
For another movie theme, one that didn’t get released formally but is a smash on YouTube as a FOREVER 5th DIMENSION production, savor “I’m On Your Side.” From the classic flick, CHAPTER TWO, Marilyn’s gentle tour-de-force has garnered an outpouring of emotional comments from fans, world-wide. Here’s the link to that treasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiv6zYgyS-8
Lilting fare like the chart-topping gold of “Wedding Bell Blues” (Laura Nyro), and “Last Night I Didn’t Get to Sleep” (Tony Macaulay) were top jukebox songs of all time…an interesting factoid as we “Flashback” (Alan O’Day). “For the creamiest-voiced chanteuse of them all, Marilyn’s ‘Never My Love’ is huge!” exclaims Gabriel Pellegrino. Emiko “Emmy” Ikeda remarks all the way from Japan, that also unforgettable are the inspirational “The Me Nobody Knows,” plus the first recorded version of “Saving All My Love for You.”
As a perennial favorite, Marilyn’s gossamer yet mighty interpretation of “O Holy Night” from her Christmas CD, is one fans look forward to her delivering on this year’s “Solid Gold” Christmas tour. McCoo & Davis will present a festive evening of selections from hits to holiday chestnuts done with sparkling Pop-Soul. (see appearance schedule at http://www.mccoodavis.com)
“I wanted that song to have a different feel than anything I’ve done,” Marilyn confided to FOREVER 5th DIMENSION about the swoon-inducing “Open Your Window.” “And take a deep sigh,” the diva of finesse continues to “coo” as the Harry Nilsson-penned delectable unfolds. We’ve been collectively taking that sigh, mesmerized by Miss McCoo on a journey past and present, with the delightful promise of more “magic moments” from Marilyn, on the horizon. Leave it to Marilyn McCoo to deliver a gift to her countless fans, as we toast her own special day.
(Copyright 2014, FOREVER 5th DIMENSION for the Soul of the Voice, Ltd.)