2021 Song Draft- Round 2 Pick 3- Eclectic Music Lover selects- ‘Moonglow and Theme From Picnic’- Morris Stoloff.
One of my favorite songs from the 1950s is “Moonglow and Theme from Picnic” by composer Morris Stoloff. Stoloff served as music director at Columbia Pictures from1936 to 1962, and was subsequently tapped by Frank Sinatra to be music director of his label Reprise Records.
The beautiful instrumental was actually a medley created by Stoloff of the popular 1933 song “Moonglow”, written by Will Hudson, Irving Mills and Eddie DeLange, and the “Theme from Picnic”, written by George Duning for the 1955 film starring William Holden, Kim Novak, Rosalind Russell, Betty Field, Cliff Robertson, Arthur O’Connell and Susan Strasberg. Stoloff’s version was used in the film Picnic, and later released as a single in early 1956. The song spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Most Played by Jockeys chart that spring (from 1955-57, Billboard had four distinct music charts: Best Sellers in Stores, Most Played by Jockeys, Most Played in Jukeboxes, and Top 100).
From the 1940s to the early 1980s, instrumentals were quite popular and often released as singles. Many became big hits, ranging from songs from the Big Band era all the way through to the Rock and Disco eras. Some notable iconic instrumentals that went to #1 include the Benny Goodman classic “Sing Sing Sing”, Perez Prado’s “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White”, Percy Faith’s “Theme from a Summer Place”, Booker T & the MGs’ “Green Onions”, Paul Mauriat’s “Love is Blue”, Hugo Montenegro’s “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”, Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas”, MFSB’s “T.S.O.P”, Barry White’s “Love’s Theme” and Vangelis’ “Theme from Chariots of Fire”. For me, “Moonglow and Theme from Picnic” ranks among the best of them. The jazzy piano keys and lovely orchestral strings are sublime.
The song is wonderful all by itself, but what makes this song even more significant is the fact that it was used for one the most important and memorable scenes in Picnic, where a slightly intoxicated Hal, played by William Holden, dances to the song with Madge, played by Kim Novak. It’s an incredible scene taut with sexual tension and desire, and the beautiful song sets the perfect mood.