Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Friday Forgotten Song: Our Winter Love by Bill Pursell

Our Winter Love

You can ask my kids about this fact, but I have a soft spot for the old music instrumentals that were once more common on the radio and music charts back in the decades of my long-lost youth. One of my long-time favorites, from 1963, was the Bill Pursell performed Our Winter Love. It endures as a hauntingly beautiful melody, IMO. Outside of the Percy Faith’s version of Theme from A Summer Place, it remains the one instrumental tune I most fondly associate with the ’60s.

If my eighth grade music appreciation teacher were still around, she would soundly attest that I’m no music expert. That’s for sure. But, I know what I enjoy. While they both deploy their orchestral strings to sweet-sounding use, these pieces served a wonderful counterpoint to each other as they play out. That each song has a polar opposite season as part of their title also helped to establish that point, I think.

If nothing else, it is a bit of additional icing to enjoy about them. So popular were both of these hits, the close-harmony group, The Lettermen, covered both of these songs (with lyrics) in 1965 and 1967, respectively. As best as I could research, the tune was written by Johnny Cowell and arranged by André Kostelanetz, Lawrence Welk, Bill Pursell, and Hugo Winterhalter. The good folk over at 60s70sTheBest channel covered it further back in 2013:

“”Our Winter Love” is a piano instrumental remake by Bill Pursell of a song written by Canadian songwriter Johnny Cowell. The song ultimately became one of the biggest selling recordings of 1963 and has carved out a small but meaningful niche for itself in the annals of pop history. Initially, a trumpet solo demo of the song that was titled “Long Island Sound” by Johnny Cowell, was sent to Nashville to be recorded by well-known trumpet player Al Hirt who never recorded it. Pursell came across it one day and transformed it into a timeless classic. The song reached #9 on the pop charts, #4 on the adult contemporary charts, and #20 on the R&B charts.

Pursell attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.and could have become a famous composer and concert pianist. However, after a stint in WWII, he wound up as a session musician for top performers in Nashville such as Boots Randolph, Chet Atkins, Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Eddy Arnold, and Jim Reeves. Years later, Pursell was named Composer of the Year by the Tennessee Music Teachers Association In 1985, and he is a member of the faculty of the School of Music at Belmont University in Nashville. He also completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Eastman School of Music. Through the years, Pursell never met or had spoken to songwriter Johnny Cowell, however, he has credited Cowell as the song’s sole composer. Sit back, turn up the volume, and get caught up in the simplicity and emotional solitude of the song’s haunting melody.”

Our Winter Love was considered a major hit, reaching #9 on Billboard’s charts, for Columbia that year. As reported by Wikipedia, Bill Pursell afterwards “…worked as a session musician and arranger for Patsy Cline, Johnny Paycheck, Hoover, Joan Baez, Eric Andersen, Scotty Moore, J.J. Cale, Willie Nelson, and others.” He is currently on the School of Music academic faculty for Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

And if he reads this, I want to assure him that this song still has admirers and will not be forgotten by the likes of us — me, in particular.

 

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9 Responses to “Friday Forgotten Song: Our Winter Love by Bill Pursell”

  1. Paul Hara

    Thanks for researching and posting the history of this song. I also have a soft spot for this song and Theme From a Summer Place and I never thought I’d run into someone who felt the same!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      I think it great when such things happen online. Feeling that special way about this pair of ’60s instrumentals and that others believe the same way is a joy. Welcome, Paul, and many thanks for joining this. Much appreciated. 🙂

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  2. Paul Hara

    Also, I love how Mr. Pursell blends the guitar and sax together (at least I think that is what is going on) in one part of the song. The subtle blend of tonalities is unexpected and and at the same time adds to the emotional feeling of the song!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Playing this lovely song as I write this. Excellent point, Paul. Yes, blending them that way was indeed, unexpected, and paid dividends for the listener caught in the sentiment it gave rise to. Just never tire listening to this. Great comment, and many thanks. 🙂

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  3. Anonymous

    Our Winter Love, A Summer Place, and Once a Upon aTime (from All American) are my favorite instrumentals!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Many thanks for your wonderful, and heartfelt, comments (and memories) for my record. The original title by Johnny Cowell was Long Island Sound, but after we recorded it in Nashville, it was renamed at Columbia in New York (by two PR men) Our Winter Love. The irony of this is that the new title really,more aptly, described what we eventually ended up with on the recording. It proves that sometimes the reactions to already existing things, can prove to be more accurate than the original ones.
    Thanks again,
    Bill Pursell

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Welcome and thank you very kindly, Mr. Pursell. I’m usually tickled pink when whatever I write about generates a comment. I tell you now, I’m simply over the moon that the sincere wish expressed in my appreciation piece has come true. It is a blogging highlight to be sure to have the artist I’d hope to focus attention upon touch base here and add even more sheen to a song that continues to bring a smile to this music fan. You, sir, have made my year. 😀

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      Reply
  5. Michael Esposito

    Thank you for your post. It’s especially nice when the article elicits a response from the artist. I agree with him that the revised title matches the mood of the song better than the original title. I had heard this tune on the radio in the 70s without knowing the title or the artist, and as a result could not find it, until today. Like yourself, I associate this song and Theme from A Summer Place with my formative years.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Welcome and thanks, Michael. I continued to be buoyed by this song the more I learn of it, and having the artist chime in certainly was a highlight I’ll cherish. It’s also good to know other fans of this instrumental are out there and share a love of it. Much appreciated. 🙂

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      Reply

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