The song of the day for Friday, July 28, 2017 is “In The Middle of an Island.”
About This Song
“In The Middle of an Island” was written in 1957 by Ted Varnick and Nick Acquaviva.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded “In The Middle of an Island” in 1957. He relates his feelings about this song in his autobiography The Good Life:
During my first recording session with Ralph (Sharon) I was practically forced to record what is probably my least favorite hit song, “In the Middle of an Island,” and he had the pleasure, such as it was, of witnessing my worst disagreement ever with Mitch Miller. As I’ve said, if Mitch brought me a song I really didn’t like, I’d simply refuse to do it. He’d keep pushing me, and I’d keep turning him down, until one of us relented. But in the case of “In the Middle of an Island,” neither one of us would let up. He was absolutely determined that I record it, and I was equally determined not to go anywhere near that terrible song.
Mitch had worked up a big arrangement with a vocal group and four guitars. He said, “You should show the world what a varied palette you have. It’s only going to be one side of a single. Am I going to have you put out a bad record?” I didn’t answer that. Mitch didn’t let up on me, and everybody was standing around waiting for me to do something. It was still early in my career, I was still an amateur, and I hadn’t gotten over the fear that I might be dropped from the label, so I began to sing the song halfheartedly. I suddenly developed a throat problem, and said I couldn’t complete a take. But Mitch wasn’t buying any of it. He told me, “Come on, just give me one take all the way through and we can all go home.” So I thought, “The hell with it!” I took off my jacket and tied it around my waist like a grass skirt, started doing a hula dance, and managed to get through one take. That’s all I would do. To my great annoyance it actually got in the top ten. But I’ve never received one request for that song in all the years I’ve been performing since.
“In The Middle of an Island,” as well as the singles collected on The Columbia Singles, Vol. 5, is available from iTunes.
Jeanne Swack says
Ted Varnick was my grandfather’s cousin!