Music Video Of the Week


"Nancy (With the Laughing Face)," Cooper Nelson Quartet
As those of you who have been following my other blog, "Pictures of Beautiful Women," top 1980s model Nancy Donahue, a friend of mine, turns sixty today (February 16), so I knew that, as her landmark birthday falls on a Friday, I had to feature as my Music Video Of the Week - new every Friday - a song about Nancy.  "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)" was the obvious choice.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find a clip of either Frank Sinatra, who recorded the song in 1945, or John Coltrane, who did an instrumental cover in 1962,  performing it - just audio tracks set to a still video.  I don't feature still or photo-montage videos here, so featuring Sinatra or Coltrane here on Nancy Donahue's birthday just wasn't going to happen.  However, I did find this lovely 2012 instrumental version by the Cooper Nelson Quartet, led by Nelson on saxophone and including Danny Bauer on piano, Adrian Laird on bass and Andrew Popham on drums.
The music of "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)" was written by Jimmy Vna Heusen, and Johnny Burke and Phil Silvers - yes, that Phil Silvers - wrote the words.  According to former broadcast executive and music historian Rick Busciglio, Jimmy Van Heusen and lyricist Johnny Burke were working at 20th Century-Fox studios working on a movie  "While Burke was out of their writer's bungalow," Busciglio said, "Phil Silvers, the comedian, a friend to both, entered and suggested to Jimmy that they write a song for Johnny's wife, Bessie, who was soon to celebrate a birthday. Silvers provided the lyrics, later revised by Van Heusen and Burke.  At the party they sang 'Bessie . . . with the laughing face." It was such a hit that they used it at other female birthday events."
Busciglio explained that they changed the name in the song to Nancy when their performed for Frank Sinatra's daughter at her birthday party.  "Frank broke down and cried," he said, "thinking that it was written specially for his daughter - the trio wisely didn't correct him.  Jimmy assigned his royalties to Nancy after Frank recorded it for Columbia."
Sinatra made some changes himself when he performed the song at President Ronald Reagan's inaugural gala in 1981.  He changed some of the lyrics and he changed the title to "Nancy (With the Reagan Face)," in honor of the new First lady, Nancy Reagan.
There are several other famous Nancys - Nancy Kerrigan, Nancy Kwan, Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Travis - and there are even other famous eighties models named Nancy - Nancy DeWeir, Nancy Decker, and Nancy Dutiel.  But I'm not here to sing any of their praises.  I'm only here now to pay tribute to Nancy Donahue . . . Nancy with the beautiful face.
Happy birthday, Nancy. :-)