Rockin’ before she could walk, a vinyl hound who can’t remember a thing because the words to all songs from 1960-2019 are stuck in her head.
What a dreamy song. I can just picture young women in chiffon dresses slowly moving about the dance floor with their beaus. And, in those more innocent times, slow dancing was the only way that young couples could hold each other like they never wanted to let go.
Who Wrote "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me"?
The song was originally written and scored by Harry Noble Jr., an American songwriter who was born in 1912. Harry haled from Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from New York City, where he got an early start as an organist and choirmaster in a Baptist church, his rich baritone filling the church to the rafters.
Harry began his singing career in the ‘30s as part of a trio named “The Three Marshalls”, consisting of the tall, nattily-dressed Harry and sisters Peggy and Kay Marshall. Harry later teamed up with Frances King to form “Noble and King”, playing supper clubs and hotel ballrooms across the country. Harry wrote and arranged a number of songs, but his big break came in 1952 with the song that would go on to become a hit in two different decades.
The Original Recording
Released on the Coral Records label in 1952, the song was originally recorded by Karen Chandler, an American singer who had made her debut on Benny Goodman’s radio program in 1946. Originally signed to RCA Victor under the name Eve Young, Karen moved to the Coral label after RCA dumped her.
“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” was issued as the A-side of a 45rpm record, with the B-side being a song also by Harry Noble called “One Dream.” The record label was right in selecting the A-side for the song. Miss Chandler’s debut on the Coral label was an instant hit, first appearing on Billboard charts in October 1952 where it remained until April of the following year.
Karen Chandler Sings "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me"
Who Is Mel Carter?
Born in Cincinnati in 1939, young Mel was forever hooked on singing when his grandmother took him to a penny arcade recording booth when he was only four. Mel loved to sing, and was initially discovered by Quincy Jones and signed to Mercury Records. Though his early records didn’t turn into hits, his smooth pop-oriented songs did catch the ear of “The King of Soul” Sam Cooke.
Sam signed young Mel to Derby Records, a label he and his partner J.W. Alexander had established in 1962. The 19-year old Mel had his first hit in 1962 with a song called “When a Boy Falls in Love” which was co-written by Cooke. There were only two albums released on Derby before it folded, one being “When A Boy Falls in Love”. The other was by a then unknown Billy Preston called “16 Yr. Old Soul.”
When Derby folded, Mel was quickly signed to Imperial Records, which was the label that released this now-classic recording. Released in June 1965, the song went gold and peaked at #8 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Dick Clarke made Mel an offer to join his "Caravan of Stars" that year, and Mel's first appearance was on April 25th with a lineup that included Del Shannon, Zombies, Ikettes and DeeDee Sharp.
Mel continued to release records over the years but never saw any of them reach the heights that “Hold Me” did. This multi-talented artist has also appeared on stage and has guest-starred on numerous television shows, including ChiPs, Magnum P.I. and Marcus Welby MD. Mel was also nominated for a Grammy in 1985 for “Best Male Gospel Performance.”
Mel Carter Makes It a Classic
Five Musical Facts
- The Coral label’s roster of artists included big-name artists Woody Herman, Milton Berle, Louis Armstrong and Buddy Holly.
- Connie Francis also recorded this song in 1959. Other artists who covered the song include Nana Mouskouri (1962), Dame Shirley Bassey (1969) and Johnny Mathis (1977).
- Over the years, Mel Carter has continued to perform and has appeared at special “oldies” events.
- Harry Noble actually took his six-foot Steinway piano on the road with him when he performed.
- Mel's version of the song appears in the 1993 movie of the same name.
The Nam Connection
The year 1965 was a pivotal year for the United States. In March of that year, 3,500 US Marines arrived in Vietnam, making them the first official combat troops to be deployed to that country. By the end of the year, their numbers would swell to almost 200,000.
It isn’t hard to see how this heart-rending love song became so personal for so many couples during that period. Stories abound regarding the memories this song brings back for Vets, dancing with their sweethearts before they shipped out.
The song appears in the Mel Gibson Vietnam war movie “We Were Soldiers” about the Battle of Ia Drang in November 1965. It is also included in a list of Vietnam era music on the American War Library site under the year 1965. If you love this song, check out the collection Mel Carter - Best of Mel Carter. Besides "Hold Me," it also includes "Band of Gold," another wonderful love song by Mel.
"...I'll know that you will miss me..."
The Dark Knight's Influence?
The song’s title was incorporated into a much darker tune in 1995 when Irish rockers U2 recorded a song called “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” as part of the soundtrack for the movie “Batman Forever.” The song was both vilified and loved, picking up not only a Razzie Award nomination for the worst song, but also a nomination for a Golden Globe “Best Original Song.”
Original or Mel's Version?
© 2019 Kaili Bisson
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 10, 2019:
I loved both the versions of this song. Passage of time has a great impact on how later versions of popular songs turn out.
Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on February 05, 2019:
Good thing for sure Flourish! Mel's version is by far the best. Have you heard Connie Francis' version? Talk about over-emoting!
FlourishAnyway from USA on February 04, 2019:
While I like Mel Carter’s version, the original is definitely not one I enjoy! It’s a good thing he added his own spin to this.