Monday, September 12, 2016

freakboy muses music: Perry Como

It all began in the mid-to-late 1980's with a television series called Mad Movies with the L.A. Connection, which I watched on Nickelodeon After Dark (Nick at Nite).  This series would take an old movie, edit it, and dub in new dialogue to make a brand new plot.  At its best, Mad Movies was ingenious!  They turned The Little Princess, with Shirley Temple, into a tale of a little girl possessed by her evil, stinky doll, but I'm not here to blog about Shirley Temple.

Another film they reworked was DOLL FACE.  At the time, this movie was unknown to me, but I recognized Carmen Miranda and had only the vaguest notion of PERRY COMO being some old singer.  This episode of Mad Movies stuck with me over the years for two reasons.  1.) The scenes looked really odd, which made me curious to what was going on in the original film.  2.)  Kent Skov, the host of Mad Movies, didn't say what the original plot was, which made me doubly curious.  I was determined that one day I would see DOLL FACE so I would understand what it was all about!  Oh, and by the way, the Mad Movies plot centered around the questionable rules in a seedy beauty pageant.

Fast forward to 2006.  I was casually flipping through a DVD catalogue when I spotted DOLL FACE.  Well, I knew I would be ordering it so I could finally relieve my curiosity, and I did.  I discovered the plot was about a burlesque performer who wants to perform in legitimate theater, but her less than classy background is preventing this dream.  Her manager/boyfriend comes up with the idea of hiring a ghost writer to pen a questionably truthful autobiography of Doll Face, to prove she has the class to perform outside of burlesque.  As you can imagine, a romantic triangle is formed and comedic misunderstandings abound, with some singing in between.  DOLL FACE entertained me more then I expected, and it solidified my vague notion of Perry Como. 

I don't know if it was the eclectic songs he sang in DOLL FACE or his deep, soothing voice, but I wanted to hear more of Perry Como.  I quickly found a very best of collection that included Dig You Later, a groovy, and somewhat politically incorrect, number from DOLL FACE.  This collection inspired me to read up on "The Como" and this started a slippery slope of purchasing four more CDs.

From what I  read Perry Como was seriously into Christmas, he used to do annual TV specials, so I had to have a Christmas album.  Then I noticed a CD with his cover of My Funny Valentine, which I snatched up without a second thought or regret.  After listening to these three discs many times over, I realized I especially enjoyed the songs he sang with The Fontane Sisters.  This sibling trio often provided upbeat fun in Perry's songs, so it wasn't long before I had acquired a CD of nothing but Como/Fontane combos.

Little did I suspect that my final purchase would bring my Perry Como obsession full circle.  Critics' Choice Video is the catalogue I ordered DOLL FACE from and, in the end, from the company's music catalogue (Collectors' Choice Music), I ordered The Long Lost Hits of Perry Como, which included the song Here Comes Heaven from DOLL FACE.  This collection focused on his lesser known songs from the 1940's & '50's, which, in hindsight, is my favorite time period in Perry Como's decades-spanning career.  

If I have one disappointment in this 20+ year tale, it is I became a fan too late to see him in concert or at least write him a fan letter.  Perry Como passed away in 2001, but he left us with an interesting selection of songs to entertain and even emotionally move us, if you are so inclined to search for them with an open mind and ear.

Freak Out, 

P.S.  Perry Como acted, and sang, in three other films, though, from what I've read, he didn't take his brief film career so seriously.  His heart belonged to music and crooning.

P.P.S. Here is a slightly older post about an album from an artist with a name that rhymes with Perry...


  1. You're so right, John about Perry Como! His music was his life and his music was wonderful. I grew up listening to his music, as he was a favorite of my parents, and watching and listening to him sing on TV programs. He has had a large following and his music still lives on! Excellent Blog, my friend!!