When I was thinking about creative titles for this book, one of my first ideas was “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation.” That song, and a few others, has always stuck in my head, as I remember hanging out at a friend’s house listening to one of his older brothers, who resembled Ricky Nelson, sing it. “A White Sports Coat” became number one in 1957 on the American country chart and number two on the Billboard chart.
I was surprised to learn that Marty Robbins, the guy who sang it and is pictured above in what looks like a faded white sport coat and a red flower, had previously released another one of my all-time favorites, “Singing the Blues,” but I never heard his rendition, since another version of that same song, sung by Guy Mitchell had quickly surpassed it. The Mitchell version is the one I remember. “Singing the Blues” spent ten weeks at number one from late 1956 until 1957.
Turns out Guy Mitchell had hired a little known arranger and session conductor to help him improve the song. That little known arranger and conductor was Ray Conniff. Marty Robbins hired Conniff to arrange and conduct “A White Sports Coat.” And the rest is history!
My title idea changed after unscientific research (I asked some friends what they thought) concluded that it was a bad title, except for one woman who shall remain anonymous.