It was very windy in northeastern Ohio earlier this week. Our cedar fence creaked; decorative items hung on our outside walls blew off; our old house groaned--and we hoped that he/she would hold on, just a few more years ...
We were driving home early on Thursday evening (St. Patrick's Day)--the wind reminding us that if it wanted to, it could sweep our car off to Oz--when an old song sneaked up out of my memory and demanded prominence. It was "The Wayward Wind." I sang a few bars for Joyce, who said she did not remember it. I could not remember who had sung it (I thought it was Anita Bryant; I was wrong), so Joyce dug out her portable memory (iPhone), googled the song, found the singer: Gogi Grant. (See pic.)
Joyce also found a YouTube clip of a much older Gogi singing "The Wayward Wind" to a very grey audience. (Link to clip.)
YouTube also offers a recording of her doing the song in 1956, the year of its original release. (Link to 1956 clip.) While Joyce ran the recording on her phone, I sang along. But Joyce said she still did not remember it. She'd been too young, I guess.
"The Wayward Wind" held the #1 spot for a bit--and ended 1956 as the 5th best-selling record (45 rpm!). The other performers in the Top Ten that year? Elvis occupied three spots, the others by Nelson Riddle, The Platters, Lex Baxter, Kay Starr, Dean Martin, Doris Day. A different era, eh?
I see that the single was released in April 1956, the end of my sixth grade year at Adams School in Enid, Oklahoma. I was already listening to the radio then (portables had become available!) and was learning to like Elvis (despite my parents' disapprobation), Bill Haley & the Comets, and others. What I did not yet know was that my Oklahoma days were coming to an end: Dad had accepted a job at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, and we would move in August, ending my Oklahoma idyll.
But "The Wayward Wind" went with me. It became a standard at the soc hops and dances at the Hiram School--and I'm guessing (though I can't positively remember) that I danced to it when I had my first date in the fall of 7th grade--a Hiram School dance (each class sponsored one--can't remember which did the one in the fall).
Back in the car last week ... things got weird when Joyce looked at some Google findings about Gogi Grant. Her real name was Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg--not a name to attract an agent or a recording studio--but was "Gogi" better? I learned that "Grant " came from her agent, "Gogi" (rhymes with Yogi) from RCA. There you go. Marketing.
But the strangest news Joyce found? Gogi Grant had just died. At age 91. On March 10, just a week before the northeastern Ohio wind blew her song back into my life on the way home from an errand. (Link to obituary.) I hadn't thought about her in a half-century. And now I can't stop ...