It occurs to me that I ought to do something for Petula Clark, who turns 80 (!) next month. Despite being ten years older than everybody else in the British Invasion, she sold a whole lot of records here in the States, starting with “Downtown” in 1964, though she’d been recording for at least a decade before that. So between now and the 15th of November, I’ll be tossing in the occasional Petula classic for your dancing and dining pleasure.
In 1967, Charles (no longer “Charlie”) Chaplin directed his final film, A Countess from Hong Kong, starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren. (Chaplin’s own appearance was brief.) The film was intended as homage to the old shipboard romances of the 1930s, and Chaplin had written a theme song for it with the intention of having Al Jolson sing it. Jolson was not available, having died in 1950, and in the end, Chaplin cut the film with an instrumental version of the song.
Still wanting to hear his throwback lyrics actually sung, Chaplin sent a copy to Claud Wolff, Petula Clark’s husband and manager; Wolff liked it, but Clark’s regular collaborator, Tony Hatch, didn’t. For that matter, Clark didn’t much like Chaplin’s words, and she first recorded the song in French, with words by the reliable Pierre Delanoë, though session producer Sonny Burke talked her into doing an English version as well.
With the very-Thirties opening shaved off the single, “This Is My Song” went to #3 in the US. You may be sure, however, that it sounded great in French:
Of course, I bought the album, though I suspect the cover may have had something to do with that:
Well, that and an already-established desire not to sleep in the subway.