Weekly Basslines #214: Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers)

❥❥❥  It's Valentines Day!  ❥❥❥

My wife loves this song and so I dedicate this post to her.

The song first appeared in a prison movie called "Unchained" in 1955 and was written to reflect the mood of the prisoners as they wait for time to pass.

The music was written by Alex North, lyrics by Hy Zaret. Todd Duncan sang the version that appeared in the movie. "Unchained Melody" is one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, with over 500 versions.

The best-known version however was recorded by Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley, who called themselves "The Righteous Brothers" in 1965. Producer Phil Spector didn't expect a major success with this and put the song on the B-side of the single "Hung on you". But Radio-DJ's instead chose to play the B-side and so the song reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 14 in the UK.

25 years later (on Nov. 3rd 1990) the Righteous Brothers version even went to No. 1 on the UK singles charts, because the track had been featured in the Patrick Swayze film "Ghost".

The song is a very good example for a "12/8-ballad". This time signature is a cousin to the 4/4 time signature. The Twelve/Eight time signature belongs to the family of Quadruple meters, meaning it has 4 beats to the bar (four dotted quarter notes) with 3 background units per beat. Therefore it's commonly used to facilitate ballad type tempos with a triplet feel.

Here's the main rhythm-pattern of "Unchained Melody" written in 12/8- and 4/4 time signature:

In the song you can hear the background units being played by the piano throughout.

Here's the complete bassline:

Here's an interesting clip about the origins and different versions of "Unchained Melody":