Andy Williams

The Village of St. Bernadette

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By the end of the 1950s, Andy Williams, who had emerged on records in 1956 and scored his initial hits with lightly rock-inflected pop, had just about made the transition to a middle of the road pop singer in the manner of Bing Crosby under the careful tutelage of Cadence Records head Archie Bleyer. Williams was recording fewer singles and more albums, but he continued to score hit singles through the end of 1959, managing his third consecutive Top Ten entry with "The Village of St. Bernadette," one of those religious novelty songs written by a devout amateur that took the world by storm in the Christmas season. Just after New Year's 1960, Williams went into the studio to cut an inspirational album to accompany the single. He covered several earlier songs in the same genre as his hit, notably its direct antecedent, 1950s "Our Lady of Fatima," as well as such familiar tunes as "I Believe" and "The Three Bells." He also touched some familiar stops in his career, evoking Crosby on "Count Your Blessings," the Irving Berlin song from the Crosby film White Christmas, commissioning the new "Sweet Morning" from his old employer, Kay Thompson, and going back to the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalog (from which he had previously extracted the songs for Andy Williams Sings Rodgers & Hammerstein) for "You'll Never Walk Alone" and the new "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" from the recently opened Broadway musical The Sound of Music. Bleyer kept the accompaniment appropriately reverent, with lots of strings and a choir, and Williams applied his usual warmth. The result was not one of his most popular recordings, but one that helped further expand his appeal.

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