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The Golden Record

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There are always those timeless songs that are head everywhere, but you can never remember the original version of the song, let alone the composer. This is often the case for songs from the early 19th and 20th centuries, particularly with artists who were outside the mold for the times, such as African Americans and immigrants. Now, after many years of anonymity these behind the scenes music powerhouses are finally being recognized for their amazing work. Harry Warren, christened Salvatore Anthony Guaragna, is one such composer. Born in 1893 to Italian immigrants, he devoted his life to music. Warren taught himself the accordion, drums and piano at an early age, and soon began writing songs.

Warren was the first American songwriter to write almost exclusively for films. In his career he composed songs for more than 56 of them, and eventually his songs have appeared in more than 300 feature films. Harry Warren between 1928-1981 wrote more than 800 songs, among them the classics, “That’s Amore”, “I Only Have Eyes for You”, “At Last”, and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”, the first ever gold record with sales of more than 1.2 million. He was nominated for an Academy Award and won three Oscars, however despite these amazing successes, he did not receive much acclaim for his work. For his gold album he only received 12.5% of the royalties, while Fox received a 75% cut. Perfectly put by William Zissner, “The familiarity of Harry Warren’s songs is matched by the anonymity of the man…he is the invisible man, his career prime example of the oblivion that cloaked so many writers who cranked out good songs for bad movies.” His timeless anthems are adored by millions, and it is about time that Harry Warren is adored as well.




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