Jul 18, 2011
Happy Birthday to my beautiful Nancy! Once again I celebrate the day by posting the song "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)", along with another version of how the song came to be, courtesy of music historian Rick Busciglio:
In 1979, I was working with songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen on a TV special with Frank Sinatra and BoB Hope that was never produced. Jimmy told me that one day (circa 1942) he and his lyricist-friend Johnny Burke were working at 20th Century-Fox composing for a film. While Burke was out of their writer's bungalow, Phil Silvers, the comedian, a friend to both, entered and suggested to Jimmy that they write a song for Johnny's wife, Bessie, who was soon to celebrate a birthday. Silvers provided the lyrics, later revised by Van Heusen and Burke.
At the party they sang "Bessie... with the laughing face" It was such a hit that they used it at other female birthday events. When they sang it as "Nancy... with the laughing face" at little Nancy Sinatra's birthday party, Frank broke down and cried thinking that it was written specially for his daughter - the trio wisely didn't correct him. Jimmy assigned his royalties to Nancy after Frank recorded it for Columbia.
This year's version of the standard is by Ike Quebec,
from Blue Note sessions recorded from January 1962, way before
Nancy was born. Quebec is on saxophone, with a super trio behind
him - pianist Sonny Clark, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Art