It’s easy to forget the names of instrumentals because they usually don’t have any words to attach to them. Although we don’t recognize names, it usually only takes a few notes for us to recognize the tunes.
1960 was a great year for instrumentals on the Hot 100. No less than 26 instrumental singles were in the top forty that year. In fact, the number one record of the year was The Theme From “A Summer Place.” Most people can instantly recognize that song because of the vocal remake of the song by the Lettermen in 1965.
One less identifiable instrumental from that year is Tracy’s Theme.” In December 1959, NBC aired a new version of The Philadelphia Story. Their version didn’t have Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, or Katherine Hepburn, the stars who made the original film – so why remake it? Diana Lynn portrayed Tracy Lord (the Hepburn role) and it fell to Robert Ascher to write a theme song to follow her around. The musical composition was produced, conducted and arranged by Robert Mersey. Since he was under contract to a different record company, Columbia Records released a single credited to Spencer Ross.
The record company released the single a few weeks before the show aired. The exposure from the show was sufficient to give the single a boost and by February 1960 the single reached #13 on the Hot 100. The most striking feature of the song is the alto sax part that was played by Jimmy Abato, a veteran of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Robert went on to produce and arrange records for a long list of Columbia artists in the sixties.