1971 Henry Mancini – Theme From Love Story
Erich Segal wrote a screenplay for a film entitled Love Story. His publisher insisted he adapt the screenplay into a novel that they published in February 1970. It became a runaway bestseller, ranking as the number one novel for 1970.
Francis Lai wrote the music for the film, including the song heard over the opening and closing credits. They entitled that song Theme from Love Story and hired Carl Sigman to write lyrics. He turned in the first set of lyrics, mirroring the storyline of the film. The company refused to use the lyrics because they felt they were too depressing (after all, the film was about a college co-ed who dies at the end of the story).
Instead of using the lyrics, the company moved ahead with the release of a soundtrack album with the instrumental.
Henry Mancini played piano on an instrumental version of the song that was released as a single a few weeks before the film’s release at Christmas.
In January, a single version of the song from the film’s soundtrack came out credited to Francis.
Meanwhile, Carl struggled to come up with lyrics for the song. When he got home from being told his lyrics were unacceptable, he became angry about being asked for a rewrite. He calmed down the next day, and paced around his living room. He turned to his wife and asked her, “Where do I begin?” That, of course, turned into the first line of the song, and the lyrics then came pouring out.
Andy Williams recorded a single version of the song with the new lyrics that first reached the charts in February 1971.
All three versions of the song charted, but with very different results.
The original instrumental from Francis Lai reached #31 on the Hot 100 and #21 on the Adult Contemporary chart. That single qualified him as a one-hit-wonder.
Henry Mancini’s single, the first one released, reached #13 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It became his last top forty single on the Hot 100.
Andy’s single reached #9 on the Hot 100, number 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #4 in the UK. It would be Andy’s last top ten single until his Christmas record It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year began reappearing on the Hot 100 top ten in 2018.
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