WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-07 > 1184509996
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [WORLD-OBITS] ZARET: Hy Zaret 2.jul,2007
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 15:33:16 +0100
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 07/07/2007
Hy Zaret, the American lyricist who has died aged 99, wrote the words to
Unchained Melody, ranked among the 25 most-performed songs and musical works
of the 20th century.
Zaret was busy painting his house when the composer Alex North telephoned to
say he had written a song for a film and needed some words.
When Zaret finally found the time, he came up with: "Oh, my love, my
darling/I've hungered for your touch/A long, lonely time."
Despite a request from the producer, Zaret refused to include the word
"unchained" in his lyrics, though it was impossible to keep it out of the
title. The film itself, Unchained, was a low-budget B-movie about a prison,
and turned out to be rather less memorable than the song.
It has been recorded by more than 300 artists, including Lena Horne, the
Righteous Brothers, Elvis Presley, Liberace and Jimmy Young, who made his
recording in the throes of appendicitis but who took the song to the top of
the British charts in 1955.
The American Songwriters Hall of Fame gave Unchained Melody its Towering
Song award for having "influenced the culture in a unique way over the
Although none of Zaret's other songs repeated this success, many did very
well: for example One Meatball, a novelty song with music by Lou Singer
about a poor man with only 15 cents to spend for a meatball, was a hit for
the Andrews Sisters in 1945.
Zaret also wrote the English lyrics for Anna Marly's French Resistance song
The Partisan, which Leonard Cohen recorded.
Unchained Melody made Zaret financially independent but he was equally proud
of the educational and public service songs he wrote, often with Lou Singer,
for radio, television and schools. He addressed fire prevention with Never
Clean With Gasoline, racial tolerance with Brown-Skinned Cow and educational
puzzlers with Why Are Bananas Picked Green? and How Does a Frog Become a
Hyman Harry Zaritsky was born in New York City on August 21 1907. Although
he legally shortened his surname in 1934, it became an issue again years
later when William Stirrat, an electrical engineer, claimed he had written
Unchained Melody as a romantic teenager under the pen name Hy Zaret.
Legal proceedings ensued, but the dispute was resolved completely in Zaret's
favour, and he continued to receive all royalties.
Young Hy often skipped school to read in the local library. He graduated
from the University of West Virginia and Brooklyn Law School and practised
law for a while. Later he wrote and produced shows for radio and television.
Hy Zaret, who died on July 2, leaves a widow and a son; a second son