Jackie Gleason - The NOW Sound ... For Today’s Lovers 

More like 'Music to Fill You With Such Self Doubt and Loathing You’d Let a Fat Guy Get on Top of You'

Back when grown-ups still looked down their snoothole at rock music, dentist chair easy-listening sounds like this were self-consciously formatted for radio as "beautiful music." The Great One had a whole slew of these "makeout" albums that must've been like Viagra for men of a different age — Music to Remember Her By, Music to Change Her Mind, Music to Make You Misty, Music for the Love Hours — yet all of them share a built-in melancholia that makes you wonder if Jackie should've named one of 'em after the true mission statement: Music to Fill You With Such Self-Doubt and Loathing You'd Let a Fat Guy Get on Top of You. 

Perennial bestsellers in the '50s, these instrumental albums stopped cresting into the Top 50 by 1963, yet the Gleason Strings kept up with the times well into the '70s — the martini crowd would need something to play if they managed to lure a hippie chick back to the swing pad and Ralphie boy would not disappoint them. But don't be fooled: The NOW Sound ... For Today's Lovers is the same saccharine old sound, now bolstered by incongruous sitar runs, tablas, Chinese gongs and rainsticks. "Two Different Worlds" indeed. These exotic instruments do add some worldly dimension to Gleason's sad ennui, even for today's lovers. "Lonely is the Name?" Pal, think of how much unhappier you would be hearing that in a Far East dive, with flies circling for a landing in your Scotch?

More by Serene Dominic

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