I am a soldier
A coming home soldier
No purple heart
Do I wear on my chest
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania – a town of 9000 or should located about half an hour’s drive southwest of Pittsburgh – is the birthplace of both Perry Como and Bobby “The Polish Prince” Vinton, two of the most successful male recording artists of their era.
Vinton’s father was a bandleader who pushed him to learn the clarinet by withholding his allowance until he had completed his daily practice.
Bobby formed a band when he was 16 and earned enough money to help pay for his tuition at Duquesne University, where he majored in music composition. By the time he graduated from Duquesne, Vinton could play not only the clarinet, but also the piano, saxophone, trumpet, drums, and oboe. (At one time he hoped to play the oboe for a symphony orchestra.)
Vinton had four #1 hit singles in the early sixties – “Roses Are Red (My Love),” “Blue Velvet,” “There! I’ve Said It Again,” and “Mr. Lonely.”
“Roses Are Red (My Love)” was the featured song on 2 or 3 lines last Valentine’s Day.
I have a soft spot for “Blue Velvet” because it was the song my 6th-grade ballroom dance teacher played each week when we practiced the foxtrot.
“There! I’ve Said It Again” was displaced from the #1 spot on the Billboard “Hot 100” by the Beatles first #1 single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
The singer of “Mr. Lonely” is a lonely soldier who never gets letters from home. The singer of “Coming Home Soldier,” which peaked at #11 on the “Hot 100,” is a soldier on his way home to see the girl he left behind. Both songs were co-written by Vinton and Gene Allan.
Later, Allan helped write Ron Dante write a number of songs for the Archies. He and Dante also wrote the music for “Billy,” an unsuccessful Broadway musical that was based on the famous Herman Melville novella, “Billy Budd.”
Here’s “Coming Home Soldier”:
Click here to buy the song from Amazon: