Quincy Jones said "Magic happens when a great song is sung by a great singer." He was on the CBS-TV Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 22, 1989. He went on to say "A great song can make a lame singer a pretty good lifelong living."
Paul Harvey's radio commentary on December 19, 1989 said that Bing Crosby had reservations about Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." Nevertheless, Crosby was convinced to do the song as it was written, thus the magic of a standard that has sold over 30 million copies. If I'm not mistaken, it's the number one recording of all times for a song with the same vocal.
It reminded me of one of my favorite Christmas songs, "The Little Drummer Boy." I can remember a few years back when I made a point to buy The Harry Simeone Chorale version of an album. Being from a conservative, moderately poor background, it was one of the rare times I purchased an album based on one song. But I figured if Harry could get his 25 chorale singers to do half as good on 30 other songs as on this masterpiece, I couldn't go wrong at $3.95. I wasn't disappointed.
The first time I heard Willie Nelson sing "You Were Always On My Mind," I mentioned to my wife it would be song of the year. It was for the 1982 NSAI awards (just one of many). By 1984 it was triple platinum, according to Vernell Hackett in the October 1984 issue of American Songwriter. The song had been recorded by other artists, but it's amazing how the right vocal elevates a song to its highest level. For me, it was an easy prediction for song of the year because it had stood above the other country songs for the previous two years.
And like Quincy Jones might have said, Willie made some magic happen when he sang the lyrics:
Maybe I didn't love you quite as often as I could have
and maybe I didn't treat you quite as good as I should have,
If I made you feel second best, girl I'm sorry.
I was blind.
You were always on my mind,
You were always on my mind.
NOTICE: Louisville Songwriters Workshop of NSAI will be changing meetings from second and fourth Wednesdays to second and fourth Mondays each month, beginning January 1990. Mark your calendars.