Livingston & Evans: The Last Of The Great Songwriters From The Golden-Age Of Hollywood
1954 saw Livingston & Evans working once again with Paramount Pictures stars Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Rosemary Clooney and Bob Hope, among others, on a film called THREE RING CIRCUS. The first project placed Martin & Lewis as entertainers in a madcap circus setting, needing a song to entertain the crowd. Jay & Ray wrote a song called “Hey, Punchinello”.
Next, Paramount came to Livingston & Evans to write an entire film’s worth of songs for a film that was so far ahead of itself that it has only recently received the accolades deserved for not only being experimentally forward thinking, but for being a trend setter for film makers looking to erase the blurred lines between stage and screen. RED GARTERS, by traditional measures, should have been a musical stage show. The film was very stylized and driven by the musical numbers written by Livingston & Evans. Out of the 11 songs written we are attaching a clip of “BRAVE MAN” as performed by Rosemary Clooney, and “A DIME AND A DOLLAR” as performed by Guy Mitchell.
Brave Man/Rosemary Clooney
A Dime And A Dollar/Guy Mitchell
Rounding out 1954 Livingston & Evans were asked to write a song, “Pretty Mandolin”, for Bob Hope’s film CASANOVA’S BIG NIGHT co-starring Joan Fontaine.
1955 saw only one assignment for Livingston & Evans from Paramount. That came as a song for the Charleton Heston, Jane Wyman film LUCY GALLANT. The song was “How Can I Tell Her?” Paramount did lend Livingston & Evans out to Universal to write a title theme for a B-movie titled THE SECOND GREATEST SEX starring Kitty Kallen and Bert Lahr.
By this time in the mid-50’s a new form of music was taking hold in America called rock-n-roll. Elvis Presley had begun turning the youth market on with his new style of music. Paramount Pictures realized early on that Elvis was a major star and signed him to a film deal that lasted for many years. With the advent of Elvis and this new youth oriented market Livingston & Evans were not as important to Paramount as they had been.
1956 saw the 10-year exclusive relationship between Paramount Pictures and Livingston & Evans come to an end. Jay & Ray felt very fortunate to have been a part of the Paramount Pictures team from 1945 through 1955. They had met so many wonderful actors, directors, producers, singers, dancers, musicians, arrangers, songwriters, engineers, publicists, over the period from the end of WWII. Having had great success themselves accepting two Academy Awards and numerous hit records it was time to move on.
Not to lose momentum for long, Jay & Ray decided to sell their services to whomever needed great songs. Not since the days in New York City had Livingston & Evans had to sell their own services. They rolled up their shirtsleeves and dove in. It took about a month for their first project to appear. It came in the form of an assignment from Universal International Pictures for an Errol Flynn, Nat ‘King’ Cole film titled ISTANBUL. Seems a song was needed for Nat to sing. The song was “I Was A Little Too Lonely (And You Were A Little Too Late)”. We are enclosing Nat’s version of this song for review. Please note this song is published by Jay Livingston Music, Inc.
I Was A Little Too Lonely (And You Were A Little Too Late)/Nat King Cole
The next assignment for Livingston & Evans came from none other than L& E’s alma mater, Paramount Pictures. Paramount needed a song for who else, Nat ‘King’ Cole to sing in a film titled THE SCARLET HOUR. That song, “Never Let Me Go”, turned out to be one of Jay’s favorite songs he had ever written. “Never Let Me Go” has become a jazz standard. It is published by Sony ATV Harmony.
Never Let Me Go/Nancy Wilson
The next song assignment for Livingston & Evans came from an agent by the name of Lew Wasserman at MCA. Years later, Jay & Ray would say “this was the first and only job assignment they had ever received from an agent.”
It seems Wasserman represented, among others, James Stewart and Doris Day. Wasserman was approached by the great director Alfred Hitchcock to hire James Stewart for his remake of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. Being the wily dealmaker he was, Wasserman said the only way Hitchcock could have Stewart for his film was if he also hired Doris Day to play Stewart’s wife in the film. Hitchcock agreed and, as the final demand, Wasserman said that because Doris Day was also a successful singer Hitchcock would need to hire Livingston & Evans to write a song or two for Ms Day to sing in the film. Other than having Bernard Hermann include his wonderful scores, Hitchcock was not a fan of music in his films, certainly not songs. Because Wasserman drove a hard bargain and Hitchcock wanted James Stewart so badly, Hitchcock needed to figure out how he could make this happen. Grudgingly Hitchcock agreed. Wasserman set up a meeting between Livingston & Evans and Hitchcock. At this meeting Hitchcock explained the situation to Jay & Ray that he really did not know what type of song he needed for his film and for Ms Day to sing, however, James Stewart’s character is a foreign ambassador and he could see making his wife a singer. These two characters have a child they are traveling with so the title could be foreign and it could be something the mother would sing to her child. Jay & Ray sat dutifully listening to Hitchcock’s explanation not saying a word. On the way out Jay turned to Ray and said, “I think the song we wrote last week could be the song we can use for this assignment”.
Jay had seen a movie a few days before starring Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, and Rossano Brazzi titled THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA. In one scene, where Rossano Brazzi takes Ava Gardner to meet at his parents home in Italy, inscribed on the wall is the family crest “CHE SERA.” Always looking for good titles, Jay wrote down this interesting title in his little black book and brought it out a few days later at a writing session with Ray. Because they felt it necessary to keep their chops fresh, Livingston & Evans wrote 5 days a week for over 64 years whether they had an assignment or not. Because of this Livingston & Evans are considered the longest running songwriting team in history. To continue our story…Jay & Ray waited a couple of weeks before calling Mr. Hitchcock for their next meeting. When they did meet with Hitch and played their song, Hitchcock said “ gentleman, I told you I did not know what type of song I wanted for my film…That is the type of song I want for my film.” He shook their hands and asked for a demo of the song. Livingston & Evans obliged. Hitchcock re-wrote his script to accommodate this song. It became the focal point for the ending of the film. The song “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” won Livingston & Evans their third Academy Award, and became Doris Day’s signature song. Below is a clip of this scene from THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH with Doris Day singing. Jay Livingston Music, Inc. publishes.
Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)/Doris Day