Today’s song is ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’. This song was written by Roy Turk and Lou Handman in 1926. It was recorded several times in 1927—first by Charles Hart, with successful versions by Vaughn de Leath, Henry Burr, and the duet of Jerry Macy and John Ryan. In 1950 the Blue Barron Orchestra version reached the top twenty on the ‘Billboard Pop Singles Chart’.
In April 1960, after Elvis Presley’s two-year service in the United States Army, he recorded the song at the suggestion of manager Colonel Tom Parker. It was the favourite song of Tom Parker’ wife, Marie Mott. Its release was delayed by RCA Victor executives, who thought the song did not fit Presley's new (and publicized) style. When ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ was released in November 1960 it was an immediate success in the U.S., topping ‘Billboard’s’ Pop Singles chart and reached Number 3 on the R&B chart. A month after the song's release, it topped the ‘UK Singles Chart’. Presley's version was certified by the ‘Recording Industry Association of America for a Gold Record Award for 1,000,000 copies sold in the United States in 1983. It was upgraded by the RIAA to a 2xPlatinum Record Award for 2,000,000 sales in 1992.
‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ was later recorded by several other artists, with versions by Donny Osmond being just one of many covers.
It is a rare thing to have a song that was written nearly a century ago to still be highly popular and regularly played today. The song’s message speaks to so many lonely hearts that beat for a love lost or a love that was never gained.
Of all of mankind’s needs, the need to belong is one of the strongest; to belong to a country, family, society, culture, institution, church, religion and an individual partner. Remove any one of these essential needs and the seeds of feeling unsuccessful, isolated, less accepted, less wanted and less deserving are sown. And while all these aspects of belonging are important to an individual, the older one gets, the more we are happier if we have a loving mate to share our life and companionship with at the start, throughout, and at the end of each day.
I must confess to feeling blessed that I have never felt lonely, with perhaps one exception. I recall stepping back and forth over the state line when I emigrated to Canada in 1964. At the time, I’d emigrated on my own and was spending a day visiting the Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is a group of three waterfalls at the southern end of Niagara Gorge, between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US state of New York. The largest waterfall is ‘Horseshoe Falls’, also known as ‘Canadian Falls’, which straddles the international border between Canada and the United States. I recall placing each foot of mine in a different country at the same time, just as a child might do. I also remember thinking that seeing this magnificent sight would have made the experience even more beautiful, had I been sharing the vision with another person who was close to me.
There are so many experiences in our lives that are either lessened or enhanced in pleasure and satisfaction terms and which are predominantly determined by whether you are alone or are sharing the experience with another. Sharing any experience with another person nearly always enhances one’s pleasure of the experience.
Studies have shown that even attending a very humorous or adventurous movie is enhanced in pleasure terms if someone you came to the cinema with is sitting at the side of you throughout the movie. Even if you cannot see them in the dark when the lights go down, and even if they don’t speak a word to you throughout the entire film, you will still enjoy the experience more ‘simply by knowing they are alongside you and that you are not alone’. As a rule of thumb (with a few exceptions where solitude is a pre-requisite) a shared experience is a more satisfied experience!
I will acknowledge that there have been times when my life would have been enriched by the presence of another sharing a particular moment and experience with me. Fortunately, there have been very few nights and days when I wanted the company of a loving partner or friend and didn’t have one, but there have also been many times when I desired my own company. And there exists the proverbial rub! If one chooses to be ‘alone’ (night or day) then one’s own company brings pleasure and not pain; whereas when one desires companionship and close association with another but cannot have it, then, being alone is not a nice place to be.
I do believe that a great deal of the way we feel about being alone is directly related to how well we ‘like ourselves’! When we are less accepting of and unhappy with the person we are, don’t be surprised if we never get used to our own company. But when we accept who we are for what we are, we will like ourselves better and not need to depend on the specific company of any other person to make us feel worthy or whole.
I also believe that the strength of any loving union which exists between two married people sharing an experience is bettered by their own liking of self before the couple met each other.
I dedicate my song today to my lifelong friend, Tony Walsh and his wife Lily from Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, Ireland. Have a good day you two love birds. Best of wishes from across the water. Billy Forde and Sheila x
Love and peace Bill xxx