• The Song
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composition date
Jack Lawrence
Walter Gross
related performer(s)
Rosemary Clooney

Jack Lawrence on writing the lyric

The tune haunted me and the lyric practically wrote itself during my waking and sleeping hours. Words came so easily that I decided to wait a while before calling Walter for fear that he might think I’d written an off-the-cuff lyric. Literally, I waited about ten days. Then feigning great excitement, I called Walter and said, “I’ve got it, Walter! I’ve got it!” In a rather deadpan tone, he asked, “What’s the title?”

I took a deep breath and practically sang out, “TEN-der-LY!” There was a long pause at his end. Then he sneered, “That’s no title! That’s what you put at the top of the sheet music: Play Tenderly!”

Rosemary Clooney wanted to sing the song but Mitch Miller refused to let her. Finally she did sing it on the B side of a record. It became a smash hit despite Miller (and Walter Gross) and the miss-accent of the title word.

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