Best known as the co-writer of the perennial "Unchained Melody," lyricist Hy Zaret was born in New York in 1907, and scored his first major success in 1935, when he teamed up with Saul Chaplin and Sammy Cahn to co-write the pop standard "Dedicated to You." The early '40s brought some collaborations with Alex C. Kramer and Joan Whitney, including 1941's "It All Comes Back to Me Now" and the socially conscious, WWII-themed "My Sister and I." Zaret also wrote lyrics for an English translation of the French Resistance song "The Partisan" (aka "The Song of the French Partisan"), which was later covered by Leonard Cohen. Far and away his biggest success, though, was "Unchained Melody," a song he co-wrote with underrated film composer Alex North for the 1955 prison film Unchained (hence the title). No less than three versions of the song -- by Les Baxter, Al Hibbler, and Roy Hamilton -- hit the Top Ten that year, with Hibbler's version ranking as the best known for the next ten years. The song was also recorded successfully by Jimmy Young and Liberace and covered by countless others, but the Righteous Brothers' 1965 version -- given a supremely romantic production by Phil Spector -- became the definitive take, reaching the pop Top Five. That recording was revived in 1990 thanks to its inclusion in the film Ghost and nearly reached the Top Ten all over again. Meanwhile, Zaret turned his attention to educational children's music in the late '50s, collaborating with Lou Singer on a six-album series dubbed Singing Science; different volumes covered space, energy and motion, experiments, weather, and nature. The records were quite successful, and the song "Why Does the Sun Shine?" (aka "The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas") was even covered by quirky alt-rockers They Might Be Giants in 1994. Zaret died on July 3, 2007, at the age of 99, just over a month short of his 100th birthday.
Hy Zaret Biography
by Steve Huey