Good morning, Netizens...
Sometimes it is difficult for me personally to look back on the time, simply because my family life was so dysfunctional it still hurts. One of my few clear memories of that time, however, was when a twelve inch black-and-white Hallicrafters television first appeared in our living room, bringing with it an entirely different view of the outside world. Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Jack Paar—the list could go on and on. Each of these people were allowed access to our lives through television in its infancy. You have to be an old fart to remember such things, I am told.
Perhaps no one did more to change American musical history, however, than Mitch Miller and his “Sing Along with Mitch” show broadcast throughout most of the 1960's. He made Karaoke a hit long before it was a known factor in American Pop culture. According to several sources, Mitch Miller made Pop music an icon of America's musical palette. His advice at the time was to “follow the bouncing ball” as the words to songs appeared at the bottom of the television screens across the country. Given the longevity of Miller's show, it was apparent that folks sitting before their glowing screens across the country were singing along.
Some of the names Miller brought to the mix of music had biting comments to make about his role in the development of their talents. Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra both had disagreements with Miller over the songs he chose for them to record. Sinatra once recorded a little-known tune named “The Hucklebuck” which went nowhere on the charts and made Sinatra mad.
For a time, Mitch Miller shaped music as we knew it to be. Later on in his life, he re-introduced his audience to Gershwin, and thus garnered additional track time in the recording studios.
I chose the picture accompanying my comments about Miller's life and times simply because I felt it more honest than the glowing images largely taken from “Sing Along With Mitch”. He was still beaming in that characteristic way he once had, and you can almost hear him from the grave saying, “Just follow the bouncing ball.”
Musical historians may note for good or ill the talent and persistence of Mitch Miller. No one, however, will take away the number of pop songs he brought to the American public.