Friday, December 21, 2012

A LETTER FROM BING

Here is a letter that Bing wrote to his musical director John Scott Trotter on May 9, 1954. It is an unusually open Bing, and it says a lot about Bing as a person... 


Dear John,

Please excuse the long delay between receipt of your letter of August 24 and my reply thereto. Too many golf tournaments and too much fishing up here, I guess, for one to pay the proper attention to one’s correspondence.

First, in connection with Gary, I think that he did make remarkable progress in the 13-week period just concluded. A lot of people don’t realise just how little experience he had in the past. Outside of the appearances with me and the three or four records he made, he had absolutely no experience in front of the public or recording or on the radio. In school, contrary to what most kids with a little talent are accustomed to do - he didn’t participate at all in amateur theatricals or the university productions. This I deplore of course, but there seems to be little I can do about it. He tells me that the boys around the fraternity house consider anybody a square who in any way indulges in campus activities or assumes student offices. A whole new philosophy seems to have developed since I went to school. In order to be attractive now, apparently, a kid must be a complete clod. Of course if a boy gets very good marks and likes to study and shows an interest in the course that he is taking, he is utterly loathsome. 



I think your suggestion about him working a little on tone production and singing to a tape machine is a very good one. Ampex owes me just such a machine, and I may grab it and have it sent up to him this fall. I don’t know whether he’d ever plug it in or not, but it’s an experiment that’s worth a try. Doubtless the fraternity would pick up his pin if he ever demonstrated such unique interest in the career he intended to pursue when he got out of college. Of course I am determined that he should complete his college course, if it takes two years. Getting him into Stanford was quite a chore, and keeping him there has been an even more onerous assignment, and I certainly am not about to let him blow it with only a year or so to go. It’s my belief that he can still keep in the public eye and keep in action through the medium of phonograph records, if they go at all.

I of course, John, feel pretty sad about not going back on the radio this season. I have given many reasons for this decision to many different people, but I feel I can tell you the truth and that you will believe and understand me. John, I don’t sing anywhere as good as I used to, and I feel sincerely that it’s getting worse. I don’t see any purpose in trying to stretch something out that was once acceptable and that now is merely adequate, if that. I don’t know what the reason for this condition is, unless it’s apathy. I just don’t have the interest in singing. I am not keen about it any more. Songs all sound alike to me, and some of them so shoddy and trivial. I don’t mean I didn’t sing some cheap songs in the old days, but I had such a tremendous interest in singing and was so wrapped up in the work that it didn’t matter. . . . The sycophants that hang about, the press, the photographers, the song publishers and pluggers and the pests of all descriptions that grab me every time I step outside my front door weary me indescribably. Succinctly, John, I seem to have had it. Maybe a year or so away will make me feel differently, and my interest will revive.

I certainly hate to see the wonderful organisation we have break up, and it gives me a wrench to be an instrument in its dissolution. I shall never forget all the good years you and I had together, and all the wonderful unselfish things you did for me and my interests. You had a great deal to put up with at times, and your patience and forbearance was always incredible. You must know how grateful I am to you for everything that you have done. And I don’t mean just professionally either. Much of the same goes to Murdo. There’s a great boy, and I think the radio industry should prepare some sort of a plaque or citation for him for just putting up with Morrow through the years, if putting up with me wasn’t enough. I’ll be back in Pebble Beach after the 21st of the month, John, and probably will stay around there for a couple of weeks, and then will be on into Hollywood. If you are in the Carmel area be sure and give me a ring and we can get together. My very best to you.

As ever,
Bing


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