#761: Can’t You Hear The Song by Wayne Newton
Carson Wayne Newton was born in 1942 in Norfolk, Virginia. When he was four years old his parents took him to see the Grand Ole Opry. He began to learn guitar, steel guitar and piano from the age of six. At the age of six he was featured on a local radio show each morning on his way to elementary school. At the age of six, young Wayne also performed in front of the USO and for President Harry Truman. With his brother, Jerry, they performed at country fairs and clubs as the Rascals in Rhythm. They had several guest spots with the Grand Ole Opry roadshows and on ABC-TV’s Ozark Jubilee. They also gave a performance for President Eisenhower. From 1958 to 1962 the brothers performed six days a week on the Lew King Rangers Show. Further success awaited them with their first of twelve guest appearances on The Jackie Gleason Show on September 29, 1962.
Newton had a very high voice and it was the butt of jokes. Late night TV host, Johnny Carson, made wisecracks on his show implying Wayne Newton was gay. Newton was so enraged that he went to Carson’s office to confront him. In a 2007 interview with Larry King, Newton described the confrontation: “And I said to Mr. Carson, I said, “˜I don’t know what friend of yours I’ve killed, I don’t know what child of yours I’ve hurt, I don’t know what food I’ve taken out of your mouth, but these jokes about me will stop and they’ll stop now or I will kick your ass.'” And that was the end of Johnny Carson’s jokes implying that Newton was, as they said in the early 60’s, “a homosexual.”
Newton had his first Top 20 hit in 1963 titled “Danke Schoen”. However, he almost didn’t get to record the single. Capitol Records wanted Bobby Darin to record the song. However, Darin had been grooming a young 21-year old tenor named Wayne Newton. Darin was convinced that Newton was perfect for the song and the song for Newton. Consequently, when Darin threatened to quit his contract with Capitol. Darin had only signed with the label in late 1962. And he’d given the label some hit records with “Y0u’re The Reason I’m Living” and “18 Yellow Roses”. So Capitol relented and let Wayne Newton record “Danke Schoen”.
Success on the pop charts was only occasional for Newton. He had a Top 30 hit in 1965 with “Red Roses For A Blue Lady.” Newton’s recording of “Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife” was the only other charting version of the song besides Glen Campbell’s. Newton went on to have a successful career performing in Las Vegas and also as an entrepreneur who owned hotels in “sin city,” including the Aladdin. “Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife” was included in a January 4, 1969 episode of the TV show Petticoat Junction.
In 1972, Wayne Newton had his only Top Ten hit in the USA with “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast.” This was after Newton left Capitol for RCA. His follow single to “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast,” was “Can’t You Hear The Song”.
In “Can’t You Hear The Song” the listener learns in the first verse that the person the singer is trying to woo has been in love many times before. So now, he’s trying to let her know how he feels. Apparently, it’s not working out very well. He wouldn’t be wondering, “can’t you hear the song that I’m singing,” unless she didn’t seem to be hearing it. He also wonders if she notices the aromas from the things he’s baking for her. He wonders, too, why she won’t take the hand that he’s giving. Speaking plainly, he’s even “laid it on the line,” so that there would be no mistaking his affection and devotion for her. However, he keeps running around in circles. It seems everyone else in the social circle is aware of how fruitless wooing her is. “Everybody smiles” and they all know that he’s “been getting nowhere.”
What kind of person is the suitor in “Can’t You Hear The Song” trying to woo? It seems she’s someone who it’s very hard to get a positive response from. Is she is being aloof, playing hard to get? Is she self-absorbed, even narcissistic, and not able to acknowledge, in the present moment, that there is someone who is madly in love with her? Is she afraid of intimacy and pulling away every time he tries to get closer? When he lays it on the line and makes it plain to her what his feelings are, she still holds her cards close to her chest.
In an article for The Independent titled, “Why You Get Turned Off When Someone Shows Too Much Interest,” Rachel Hosie explores why some people flee the scene when someone starts expressing an interest in them. Hosie explains that, while many people like the chase of having someone try to win them, once the chase is over some people lose interest. Research suggests that the crux of the matter is a problem with intimacy. After all, when someone is wild about you, it could be a very good sign that there is a chance the relationship can move forward to a stable, even permanent commitment. So when you start to freak out when things are going well after the first month because it looks like this could be a solid, real love, ask yourself why. Jesse Kahn, LCSW, the director and supervisor of The Gender & Sexuality Therapy Collective in New York, advises “in fact, some people can find safety in being rejected, because it’s more normal for them.” A pattern may have developed where a person pulls away to avoid being hurt again.
While it may be the case that the person who is wild about you is coming across as desperate, it is also possible that someone ready to offer a mature and loving relationship is standing in front of you. So the reason you can’t hear their song, or receive the hand that they’re giving you, may be wrapped up in personal baggage that needs to be examined. Otherwise, you’ll never hear anyone’s song, pushing each suitor away decade after decade. As for the suitor in “Can’t You Hear The Song”, he’s going to ask himself how long he’s going to try to win her over. If she’s determined to push him away and reject him, he needs to figure out that there is more than one fish in the sea.
“Can’t You Heart the Song” was co-written by Geoffrey Stanton Morrow, a UK based songwriter who wrote the Barry Manilow classic, “Can’t Smile Without You”. The song was produced by Wes Farrell, whose biggest hit as producer was “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys. “Can’t You Hear the Song” reached the Top Ten in Las Vegas (#3) and Vancouver, British Columbia, (#7).
While raising a family, Newton once hired a nun to live in his home as a governess for his daughter. In 1980, Wayne Newton became one of the owners of the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas. An October 1980 investigative report by NBC was aired with the headline: “Wayne Newton and the Law.” The feature inferred there were a number of people in organized crime figures had helped finance the purchase in exchange for favors. Two subsequent reports extended the narrative giving it legs. Newton was annoyed and sued NBC for libel. He was given a $19.3 million award in 1986 after the jury ruled in his favor. However, a federal appeals court overturned the verdict in 1990. Wayne Newton ended up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992 declaring $20 million in debt. Almost all of the debt he accumulated was due to his legal wrangles with NBC during the 1980’s. In 2013, Wayne Newton declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy again. In the process, he and his family moved out of a 52-acre property into a $3 million, 20-acre property, also in Las Vegas. Newton, and his brother Jerry, stopped speaking to each other for over twenty years related to inheritance issues.
In 1989, Wayne Newton co-authored a biography titled, Once Before I Go. When he performs in concert, Wayne Newton requires staff at the venue to provide him backstage with cans of Coors Light beer. Newton continues to perform regularly at Bally’s in Las Vegas. Between June 18 and December 12, 2018, Newton will appear in concert on 57 occasions.
July 17, 2018
Ed Koch, “Wayne Newton Owned the Strip: ‘Mr. Las Vegas’ Will go Down as Entertainer, but also Owned the Aladdin,” Las Vegas Sun, May 15, 2008.
Ethan Tree, 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Wayne Newton, Mental Itch.com, January 8, 2010
Ken Ritter, “Wayne Newton Moving Out of Las Vegas Home. Why?” Christian Science Monitor, June 6, 2013.
Newton, Wayne and Maurice, Dick. Once Before I Go. William Morrow & Co, 1989.
Wayne Newton Show schedule, Wayne Newton.com
Rachel Hosie, “Why You Get Turned Off When Someone Shows Too Much Interest,” Independent, UK, September 21, 2017.
Geoff Morrow bio, Wikipedia.org
Petticoat Junction, CBS, January 4, 1969.
“Boss 30,” CKLG AM 730, Vancouver, BC, December 1, 1972.
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