“Magnificent Obsession”

\”Magnificent Obsession\” by Nat King Cole

When I got married, I wanted the musicians that were engaged to play this song that had been recorded in the 1960s by Nat King Cole.  As none of the musicians had ever heard of it, the job of finding the sheet music fell to me.  Internet searches and pounding the pavement to every music store in Manhattan were fruitless.  Even the Library of Congress did not have a record of it.

Luckily for me, my aptitude tests always indicated I would be best suited for careers in the arts . . . . or as a detective.  Seeing that I can’t stand the sight of blood, I chose the former but it was the latter skill that served me best in this instance.  But I digress.

Growing weary and increasingly frustrated with each dead-end attempt to find the music, I returned to the album “The Very Thought of You” to see if I could glean any new leads.  All I could find was that the song had been written by a “F. Laine”.  I found out later that “F. Laine” was the very famous Mr. Frankie Laine, who wrote many wonderful songs during the 50s and 60s.

But how do I find Mr. Laine?  Was he alive?  Would he give me the time of day should I get the opportunity to tell him what I was searching for?  Through the internet I was able to find out who handled Mr. Laine’s publishing rights.  Calls and crawls to and through that corporate maze was met, as you can guess, with suspicion and eye-rolling.  At this point, however, I was determined to find this music.  Someone in Mr. Laine’s publishing house let it slip that they hadn’t represented Mr. Laine in many years “since he retired to California.”  Jackpot! (Or so I thought.)

Internet searches for every incarnation of Laine resulted in more dead ends until I just started doing the 411 shlep throughout California.  Finally, an “F. Laine” was found.  I called the number and asked if this was Mr. Frankie Laine who was the songwriter.  The voice on the other end was Mr. Laine’s and he warm and willing to talk.  So I explained to him that I had heard a recording of “Magnificent Obsession” by Nat King Cole and how much I loved it and I wanted to have it played at my wedding.  He was touched by the thought but explained that indeed the song had never been formally published and the orchestrations were worked out in situ at the studio when Nat recorded it.  He went on to say that while the song had never been one of Nat’s biggest hits, he said that it had been one of Nat’s favorite songs.

Then Mr. Laine made the most generous offer.  He said “I will write out the single-note treble clef melody and send it to you.  Do you think your musicians could take it from there?”  I thanked him profusely for his willingness to help and gladly accepted his offer.  A week later, a sheet of lined music paper arrived in the mail with the individual right-hand notes drawn in.  I pecked the tune out on the piano and it was pitch perfect.  I gave the page to our musicians and it took a few tries for them to nail it and while they didn’t capture the lushness of a recording studio’s orchestra, it made for a very, very perfect first dance.

If you have a romantic bone in your body, listen to this song.

(And, by the way, what’s Rustic Chic about this?  Nothing.  Nothing at all . . . )


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