RCA Victor 1087
Producer: Andy Wiswell
Track listing: Prologue / I Put My Hand In / It Takes a Woman / Put on Your Sunday Clothes / Ribbons Down My Back / Motherhood / Dancing / Before the Parade Passes By / Elegance / Hello, Dolly! / It Only Takes Moment / So Long Dearie / Finale
June 6, 1964
It’s doubtful that anyone would have thought that the first wave of Beatlemania would be temporarily interrupted y a phenomenon inspired by Thornton Nilder’s story of a widowed matchmaker secretly looking for love herself. Yet that was the case, thanks to the incredible success of Hello, Dolly!
The musical, based on Wilder’s story The Matchmaker, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, opened on Broadway on January 16, 1964, two weeks before the Beatles would score their first Number One single with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The play’s leading lady was Carol Channing, a veteran of the stage whose 1950 performance in Gentleman Prefer Blondes had landed her on the cover of Time magazine.
Channing knew from her first meetings with Herman that Hello, Dolly! would be special. “He had a little apartment on East 10th Street off of Fifth Avenue,” she recalls. “It was like a monastery. It was all white stucco. It had nothing in it but a bed, a piano, and a kitchen table. It looked like good work was done there, like those monks that saved literature in the Dark Ages. I was there every day and he taught me the score and it grew right there in that little monastery.”
According to Channing, Herman had some very particular plans for the title song. “He specifically said that he wanted that song to sound very, very relaxed and Mother Earth, but then Phil Lang [who handled the orchestrations] said, ‘But my flutes don’t go down that far.’ And Jerry said, ‘Forget your flutes. I want this quality.'” Sure enough it was that earthy quality and the incredible success of play on Broadway that would catapult Hello, Dolly! to the top of the charts.
In fact, Channing says RCA Victor jumped at the chance of releasing the Original Broadway Cast recording soon after the play opened in New York.
“The reviews were sensational and the lines at the box office went on all day and all night. RCA Victor wanted the album right away,” she recalls. With the company performing eight shows a week, the album had to be recorded on Sunday, on their only day off. Channing remembers the sessions at Webster Hall in New York City: “I was doing the actual gestures that went along with all the songs and the producer came rushing in and said, ‘Carol, you don’t need to do those gestures and the acting. All you have to do is sing it.’ But the gestures are what made it happen. When I acted, it was like a real performance, rather than just singing. I couldn’t do it any other way.”
With the musical a smash, Hello, Dolly! entered the chart on February 22, 1962. Sixteen weeks later, it dislodged The Beatles’ Second Album and ended the Fab Four’s 16-week run at Number One on the album chart. Channing and the cast of Hello, Dolly!, however, had little chance to enjoy their accomplishment. “When you’re in a hit show, you are busy thinking about the next audience,” she says. “All right, so we outdid the Beatles, we didn’t have the time to think about it.”
THE TOP FIVE
Week of June 6, 1964
1. Hello, Dolly!, Original Cast
2. Funny Girl, Original Cast
3. Hello, Dolly!, Louis Armstrong
4. The Beatles’ Second Album, The Beatles
5. Call Me Irresponsible and Other Hit Songs, Andy Williams