About the song

Ah, yes, Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers. A timeless classic that transcends generations and continues to resonate with listeners even today. Released in 1965, it wasn’t originally their song, but it became a defining moment in their career and cemented their place in musical history.

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To understand the full impact of Unchained Melody, we have to delve a little deeper. The song itself predates the Righteous Brothers by a decade. Originally composed by Alex North for the 1955 prison film Unchained, the title reflects the melancholic yearning of a man incarcerated, separated from his love. The first incarnation with lyrics was performed by Todd Duncan for the film’s soundtrack, but it wasn’t until the early 1960s that the song truly found its voice.

Enter the Righteous Brothers, a dynamic duo consisting of Bill Medley with his smooth, rich bass-baritone and Bobby Hatfield’s soaring tenor. They had already achieved some success with songs like “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” but Unchained Melody was a different beast altogether. Producer Phil Spector, known for his innovative “Wall of Sound” production style, saw immense potential in the song and felt it was perfect for the Righteous Brothers.

Spector’s vision transformed Unchained Melody. Lush strings, a dramatic arrangement that builds to a powerful crescendo, and of course, the distinct vocals of the Righteous Brothers breathed new life into the song. Medley’s deep vocals lay the foundation of the emotional core, while Hatfield’s soaring high notes during the iconic lines, “Oh, my darling, oh, my darling, it’s been a long, long time…” perfectly capture the yearning and desperation of a love lost.

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The result was pure magic. Released in 1965, Unchained Melody became an instant sensation. It climbed the charts in the US and UK, reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100. But its impact extended far beyond initial sales figures. The song transcended genres, resonating with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. It became a staple on radio stations, a go-to choice for wedding ceremonies, and a powerful ballad featured in countless films and television shows, most notably the romantic tearjerker Ghost in 1990.

Unchained Melody‘s enduring legacy lies in its ability to capture a universal human emotion – the deep longing for a lost love. The raw sentiment of the lyrics, coupled with the Righteous Brothers’ powerful vocals and Spector’s dramatic production, create a truly unforgettable listening experience. It’s a song that continues to move hearts and remains a testament to the enduring power of music to connect with us on a profound emotional level.

Video

Lyrics

“Unchained Melody”
(originally by Todd Duncan)

Oh, my love
My darling
I’ve hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time

And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?

I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me

Lonely rivers flow to the sea, to the sea
To the open arms of the sea
Yes, lonely rivers sigh, “Wait for me, wait for me
I’ll be coming home, wait for me”

Oh, my love
My darling
I’ve hungered, hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time

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And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?

I need your love
I, I need your love
God speed your love to me