The justifiably famous and much admired theme music for Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s ‘The Apartment’ began life as a 1949 ‘mood music’ instrumental titled ‘Jealous Lover’, written by an English composer named Charles Williams. He composed many orchestral pieces and marches for his ensembles, which were recorded in the “Mood Music” category and during the 1950s became known for film and television signature themes, often in his own recordings (one of which is the version included above).
While editing ‘The Apartment’, Wilder remembered the tune from a movie he’d seen a decade earlier and was immediately struck by what a perfect match it was for the melancholy and romantic tone of his film. Only he couldn’t remember the name of the movie. Also he wasn’t a very good singer. So he’d go around tunelessly humming the song for people attempting to jog someones memory. Much time and energy was expended by the Mirsch Brothers (the films financiers) and finally somebody in the music department deciphered Wilder’s singing and turned up an obscure 1949 English film called ‘The Romantic Age’ which featured the song. The rest is theme music history. Upon release the film was instantly recognized as an immense achievement and the music played a big part in its success. The piano duo Ferrante & Teicher had a major success with their recording of the theme which, though arranged by Don Costa, sounds pretty much the same as Williams 1949 recording.
But then it happened. Somebody decided lyrics needed to be added. And the result, as with yesterday’s example of ‘The Odd Couple’ lyrics, was a thoroughly unnecessary song called ‘The Key To Love’ (the key to the apartment being a major part of the movies plot). The cringeworthy lyric was written by somebody named John Moran (who I can find nothing about online). At one stunning moment he actually rhymes ‘what your heart meant’ with ‘the apartment’. Get the idea? The best thing to be said about the recording above is that its sung by Adam Wade, a very talented black ‘easy listening’ artist of the early-to-mid sixties and the first black man to host a television game show, ‘Musical Chairs’. Click here to learn more than you ever expected to know about this very interesting figure, who died just this past summer at the highly respectable age of 88.