The sound of September

Fifty years have passed, yet the theme music of “Come September” continues to enthral fans worldwide

September 18, 2011 07:38 pm | Updated 07:38 pm IST

Robert Mulligan was in a fix as to whom he should appoint as music director for his breezy, romantic saga, “Come September”. The film, starring Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida, required music with a lilt and a touch of romance which gelled well with autumn. Music director Hans J. Salter was of too serious a nature to compose the title music. After a number of sessions, Salter came up with a solution. He recommended young singer and composer Bobby Darin's name to Mulligan. Salter had watched Darin perform on stage and noticed a rare talent in him.

Seasoned director that he was, Mulligan was not convinced at first. He doubted whether Darin would be the right composer for the title score. Salter organised a joint sitting with Mulligan and Darin. Darin played three different tunes on a 12-string guitar. Mulligan was not very impressed. Salter asked Darin to compose an instant tune inspired by autumn which would be romantic as well as foot-tapping, and Darin obliged. A spellbound Mulligan asked him to repeat the tune twice. He was now confident about young Darin's ability and signed him to compose the theme music of “Come September” .

Darin recorded ‘Come September' with guitars, mandolins, piano accordions and the bongo, giving stress to a loving lilt. Unconsciously, his feet started tapping to his own creation as he wielded the baton. Hearing his composition, Salter himself confessed to dancing to the tune. An emotional Mulligan hugged Darin, realising the tune would be a trendsetter. Darin recorded the track in only five takes.

Sir David Lean officially confessed he could not have dreamt of using a lilting tune like ‘Come September' as his method of working lacked that inherent spontaneity. Elizabeth Taylor personally congratulated Darin on his lively creation, stating that whenever she felt morose, she listened to ‘Come September' to perk up her spirits. ‘Come September' broke all previous musical records with its sheer lilt and melody. It ushered in the swinging Sixties. Composers such as Maurice Jarr and Sony Burke complimented Darin for his evergreen creation and the solo, ‘Multiplication Is The Name', which he himself rendered in the film. Very few know that Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida and Darin danced together in joy after the film set the box office on fire at a private function organised by Hudson. Fifty years after the release of the film and its theme music, “Come September” still enthrals audiences across the world.

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