Morris Stoloff was a musical producer for Columbia Pictures. He worked on the music for many of the pictures that came out of Hollywood during the Forties and Fifties and even into the Sixties. No other work he did got as much attention as “Moonglow and Theme from ‘Picnic'”
The song, an instrumental and reminiscent of Big Band music from the Forties, is a collage of the song “Moonglow” and the theme from the motion picture “Picnic.” “Moonglow” was written by Will Hudson and Irving Mills back in 1933 and has been a standard ever since. It’s a favorite of jazz musicians, especially. Words were added by Eddie Delange, but no words are heard in this version. A vocal version has been recorded by many performers, like June Christy and Sarah Vaughan and, believe it or not, it was also covered by the comedy group, The Coasters. The Coasters had a number one in 1958, “Yakety Yak” which I’ll talk about when we get there.
“Theme from ‘Picnic'” was written by George Duning for the movie and words were later added, written by Steve Allen. “Picnic” was released in 1955 and starred William Holden and Kim Novak. The movie is based on the play of the same name. “Picnic” was nominated for six Academy Awards and won two, Best Art Direction and Best Film Editing.
“Moonglow and Theme from ‘Picnic'” hit number one on June 2, 1956 and stayed there for three weeks. Looking ahead at the number ones of the Fifties, the next time we have an instrumental is in 1958 with “Tequila” by the Champs and that is a very different kind of song. I think it’s safe to say that this song is one of the last true instrumentals that was trying to hang on to the music of the Forties.
There is some other trivia in the video if you watch it while it plays.
Next – “Wayward Wind” – Gogi Grant