Monday, March 15, 2010
TALKING WITH GINNY ARNELL...
I, on behalf of Rare Rockin' Records, am delighted to bring you another great interview with a 60s pop icon. We are talking about the stuff of legend here!! You all know her hit records like "Dumb Head" and "I Wish I Knew What Dress To Wear". Yes indeed, it's Miss Ginny Arnell!! I was thrilled when Ginny allowed me to ask her questions about her recording career and songs from the glorious 1960s.
Just a little background information before we begin: Ginny was born Virginia Mazarro in New Haven, Connecticut on November 2, 1942. When she started her recording career, she was still a student at East Haven High School.
Kyler:Ginny, you first started your recording career recording as a duo with Gene Pitney under the name of “Jamie & Jane”. What is your favorite “Jamie & Jane” record, and what was it like working with Gene?
GINNY:My favorite Jamie & Jane record is “Strolling Though the Park”. It was fun working with Gene. He never went anywhere without his guitar. He was always thinking about new songs to write. He was a very slim, aggressive, handsome and talented young man who was going to achieve success at any cost.
Kyler:A very good song of yours that got lost by the wayside is called “Tell Me What He Said”, from 1960 on Decca Records. It was written by the legendary Jeff Barry. Do you have any remembrances or opinions on that one?
GINNY:Yes, “Tell Me What She Said” was a very exciting song to sing. I remember singing it with a lot of passion with great back up singers and a super arrangement.
Kyler:Skipping ahead to your MGM years, the first single you recorded for that label is one of my favorites, entitled “I’m Crying Too”. Any info behind the recording or song?
GINNY:“I’m Crying Too” had a unique sound. We recorded in a New York studio later in the evening. We had quite an orchestra come in but the most exciting part was seeing them bring in the beautiful Harp. It added a beautiful sound to this great song. Two other great songs I recorded in NYC were “Carnival”, the classic, and Neil Sedaka’s “Mr Saxophone”, vintage Sedaka.
Kyler:Your biggest hit came next, “Dumb Head”. It went to #50 in Billboard and went higher in a lot of local charts. What was it like for you during those times knowing your record was being played and bought around the country?
GINNY:It was like a dream come true! I remember driving with my Dad when it came on the radio. We pulled over and screamed with delight – like we never heard it before. I was a teenager and all I wanted to do was sing. Just to know that kids all over the country were listening to my records was a beautiful feeling. My Mom, Dad, and Sister were so very excited for me. Could this really be happening??? But they never let me forget that School came first, and it did!
Kyler:The B side of “Dumb Head”, called “How Many Times Can One Heart Break”, is an excellent pop song as well. We would love to know any info or opinions about this great track!
GINNY:“How Many Times Can One Heart Break” was a very good song, too good to be a “B” side. I didn’t have any songs in the “can” so everything I did was released.
Kyler:You appeared on American Bandstand when “Dumb Head” was in the charts. What was it like?? Maybe you could tell our readers about the funny incident that happened during the taping.
GINNY:American Bandstand was a highlight in my career. I was a big fan of the show. A funny thing happened when I was getting ready to lip sync the record. They put on a Bobby Rydell record, Wild One, instead of Dumb Head. So I stood there, smiled and waited for the producer to put on the right record. We all laughed about it and moved right along. I’ll never forget it. I also recorded “Dumb Head” in Japanese where it was released and was a big hit. You can hear this cut on the CD released on Poker Records.
Kyler:“I Wish I Knew What Dress To Wear”, the follow up to “Dumb Head”, is one of the best girl-pop records ever made, in my opinion. Although it was not as big of a hit, it is still remembered today as one of your best recordings. Please tell us anything you remember about this iconic record.
GINNY:Yes, “I Wish I Knew What Dress To Wear” was one of my best recordings. The record company believed it was going to be a big hit too. They put a beautiful colored sleeve on the 45 with my picture on it. That was another highlight of my career. I was fortunate to get really good material but it did pose a problem, my A&R men said I never made a bad song so therefore it was hard to pick a “B” side.
Kyler:Once again, the B Side was just as good as the A Side! “He’s My Little Devil” was the song you heard if you flipped “I Wish I Knew What Dress To Wear”. It sounds almost like the type of song Gene Pitney would write. Do you think that “He’s My Little Devil” should have been saved for a future A-Side instead of being relegated to the flip side of “I Wish I Knew….”??
GINNY:Yes, “He’s My Little Devil” should have been saved for a future A-side. The DJ’s didn’t know which side to play and in the long run, it hurt “My Little Devil”.
Kyler:My favorite record of yours is called “Let Me Make You Smile Again”. It has all the elements of a great 60s pop recording!! I feel that it should have been a major hit. What do you think?
GINNY:“Let Me Make You Smile Again” was a powerful arrangement and I sang it with meaningful passion. It had a great set of lyrics too. Any of my records could be released and enjoyed today as well as they were 46 years ago. I believe my records are timeless and unforgettable once you hear them a few times. Hope I’m not being toooo partial!!
Kyler:Your album, “Meet Ginny Arnell”, was released in 1964. It contained your hit singles and some new recordings. It is quite sought after today. Do you have a favorite song from the album, or any memories recording it?
GINNY:Yes, I recorded this album in Nashville in a morning recording session. The musicians and backup singers were the same people that worked on Elvis’ sessions. The Jordinaires, Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer to mention a few. They all couldn’t believe that I could sing like I did so early in the morning. They forgot that I wasn’t out drinking and smoking all the night before like they were!!!!!!! I think “Yesterday’s Memories” was a favorite cut of mine.
Kyler:Your next single, “Just Like A Boy”, makes me think of the Motown sound, Mary Wells in particular. Is that what you were going for when you were recording it?
GINNY:The Motown sound was hot and we certainly wanted to get on that bandwagon. I thought we had a great sound that could compete with anything that was out then.
This concludes our interview. Thanks once again to Ginny for answering all the questions and for being a geniunely great person. Until next time folks.....keep on rockin', rollin' and doo woppin'!!!!