Percy Faith may not have invented easy-listening music (we can probably thank some long-dead composer of the gentler sort of classical tunes for that), but he certainly perfected it. Born in Canada, Faith began his career as a bandleader when the big band style was in its heyday. Gradually, he massaged the brassy big band sound into something different, something quieter, mellower, and with all the rough edges sanded off. He pulled brass instruments out of the mix and put the focus on the strings. Applying this technique to both original compositions and current popular music, he jump-started the popular “mood music” genre of the 1950s and ‘60s – and won more than one Grammy award for his efforts.
"Theme from A Summer Place" is almost certainly Faith's best-known recording. It also won him his first Grammy, in 1961. The second came in 1969, for his album Love Theme from "Romeo and Juliet."
It's a musical style that we often scoff at nowadays, 36 years after Faith's death, and it's mostly relegated to elevators and dentists' offices. We've all seen funny scenes in movies in which an awkward moment is enhanced by a bit of "Theme from A Summer Place" – or a similar tune – in the background, and many of us have wished to hear something with a little more pizzazz while sitting on hold with a customer service center. But this is music that was celebrated in its time, not just tolerated. And though it might soothe you right to sleep, it does so with style, mixing skillful arrangements with great musical talent.
Written by Linnea Crowther