SONG: To Know Him is To Love Him
ARTIST: The Teddy Bears
Listen to it here:
The often covered “To Know Him Is to Love Him” was written by Phil Spector in 1958, inspired by the words on his father’s tombstone, “To Know Him Was to Love Him.” The first recording was by the only vocal group that Spector was ever a member of – The Teddy Bears. This record spent three weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958.
The song was later recorded by Bobby Vinton, and then was resurrected in 1987 by the trio of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris. This could be the first song on our list so far that is in 12/8 time, and the melody is essentially a slowed-down version of “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along.)”
Phil Spector basically assembled the group The Teddy Bears after becoming obsessed with the song he had written, “To Know Him is To Love Him.” He brought Marshall Leib and Harvey Goldstein to Era Records for a hasty audition, they agreed to finance the studio session, and Spector recruited lead singer Annette Kleinbard and drummer Sandy Nelson.
Much to Spector’s chagrin, it took a good two months before the song got any airplay. Once it did, it went on to become a global hit, and was the apex of this group’s short career. All subsequent recordings by The Teddy Bears were soft-pop and didn’t sell. This paired with serious injuries sustained by Kleinbard in a car accident heralded the quick demise of the group.
Phil Spector wasn’t the only Teddy Bear to continue on with a career in music after the group broke up. Annette Kleinbard continued to write and record songs, and changed her name to Carol Connors. Her biggest hit was the Rocky theme song, “Gonna Fly Now”, which she co-wrote with Ayn Robbins. Marshall Leib produced some of the Everly Brothers stuff and played guitar on some of Duane Eddy’s records, and Harvey Goldstein became an accountant.
I couldn’t find any good factoids about this song, but feel free to travel down the rabbit hole that is Phil Spector’s life!
I can’t say that I’d ever heard this song until now, and I probably could have gone on living a very fulfilling life having never known it. First of all, WHO MIC’ED THE DRUMS. That cardboard box of a snare is AGGRESSIVE. The whole recording – vocals, instruments – is a muddled mess. The lyrics are banal. This sounds like the kind of boring, mayonnaise, 8 ½ x 11, unseasoned chicken-type of harmony that we would sing with that ensemble I was once a part of and which shall remain nameless. Actually, I’m surprised we didn’t do this song in that group, it’s the kind of soulless shlock the director loved. The lead singer’s voice – forgettable. Could be anyone. Could be my best friend singing falsetto. I’m not devoting any more time to this overcooked oatmeal.
I feel like I’ve heard this song before, but I definitely did not know that this was Phil Spector and team. To me this song is supremely forgettable. It’s mainly the lead singer, back up vocals, some drums, and some strummed guitar and bass, waaaaay at the back corner of the recording booth. The main singer’s voice is fine. The back up singers are also fine. But wow, such bland lyrics, bland singing, basic chord structure, and vanilla dynamics. It gets very very slightly more interesting at the bridge, and there are even some minor chords, but then it very quickly settles back into oatmeal territory. Blech.
Average mark out of 10:
Other notable versions of this song:
Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris had a hit with their version:
The Beatles covered this song too:
And, finally, Amy Winehouse’s intimate version:
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Link to 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist: