10. Enoch Light Singers, Hello, I Love You
It might be hard for younger people to wrap their heads around the fact that Easy Listening music as exemplified by today’s unbelievable cover, the Enoch Light Singers’ version of The Doors’ Hello, I Love You was, once upon a time, not only popular but fairly ubiquitous. Though it would have skewed to a way upper demo even in its own day, Easy Listening enjoyed many years of great sales success right along side of rock ‘n roll. Though not taken seriously by the emerging youth culture, the music was so popular that it enjoyed its own radio format which, I would posit, served the same cultural purpose as today’s Smooth Jazz: to create a pleasing but unobtrusive sound bed. You know, the kind of music that you’re not supposed to actually realize you’re hearing but is meant to improve your mood, encourage you to shop, or calm you down when you’re put on hold. At the time, the music was generally reviled by younger folks, who derisively referred to it as “Lounge Music,” “Elevator Music,” “Dentist Office Music,” or the more corporate “Muzak.” The contemporary sobriquet “Loungecore” represents the co-option of the genre by hipsters and, ironically, has conferred upon it just the sort of credibility that it never achieved in its own day.
Though Enoch Light’s music might titillate today—especially late-period choral confections like this—he was actually an accomplished musician, record studio wizard, and record business pioneer. Among his achievements, he is widely credited with being the first producer to fully take advantage of stereo sound in his arrangements and recording, was the first to record on 35 mm film as opposed to tape, and he invented the popular gatefold album covers to create additional space to elaborate on all of his studio innovations. This means that every teenager who ever cleaned a nickel bag of pot in a Pink Floyd gatefold album cover is unknowingly indebted to the maestro Enoch Light.
By the time Light released Whoever You Are, I Love You, the 1968 vocal album which contained Hello, I Love You along with a gaggle of other contemporary favorites equally ill-suited to perky choral arrangements, Light’s career was moving toward its final chorus or, if you will, Enoch’s twi-Light. When I listen to this record, what I hear is the sound of older people feverishly working to mesh their middle-of-the-road style with the “now sound” and whip up something comestible to oldsters. The fact that this is intrinsically not possible makes for an enduring time capsule of misguided creativity.