Recording ‘the jingle’
Me ‘n’ my brother, Brian Voger, recorded the “Britmania Trailer Theme” in March. It was our first recording session since the COVID broke out in the U.S. in 2020 — we’re both super careful — so it felt great to work together again. I arranged the piece and played all the instruments except for bass. Brian produced, recorded and mixed it, and played bass. During recording, we informally called it “the jingle,” as is our custom.
The challenge was to come up with a track that hovers around two minutes long, to be used in the trailer for “Britmania,” my upcoming book about the British Invasion of the 1960s. How do you evoke the British Invasion period with an original instrumental song? I couldn’t figure out a way. (I wrote the trailer themes for “Monster Mash” and “Groovy,” but this time around, nothing came to mind.)
After I dug a little and learned that “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” is a Scottish ballad from the 1800s (and therefore within the public domain), I figured I’d cracked it. A rock ‘n’ roll version of the song was recorded by singer Tony Sheridan backed by the Beatles, calling themselves the Beat Brothers here. Simply titled “My Bonnie,” the song was released in 1961, and led to Brian Epstein seeking out the Beatles. The song was historic as the Beatles’ first-ever professionally released recording.
So we cooked up a new, ’60s-influenced, mostly instrumental arrangement. We thought that a snatch of “Rule, Britannia!” would make a good prelude. I couldn’t find it in the perfect time and key, so I played it with horn sounds on a keyboard. (I also played all of the drums digitally — not my preference, but time was tight.) The bridge riff from “Please Please Me” slotted in nicely at 00:30 and 01:21. I couldn’t resist slapping some harmonies on the bridge. Listen for Brian’s Diamonds-influenced bass during that segment. (We loved ’50s music when we were kids.) We ended it with the harmony climb from “Twist and Shout,” which we doubled. As a post script, Brian added screaming girls, and we placed Big Ben-style (kind of) bells in the fadeout.
In other words, we employed every British cliche known to man. Here’s the finished track:
After mixing it, Brian then turned the track over to his son Ian Voglesong, an NYC-based filmmaker who had already received a slew of images and video clips from me, to put the “Britmania” book trailer into final form. Read about Ian’s result HERE.
Above is the “Anthology I” version of “My Bonnie” with a brief audio intro by Paul McCartney. Tony Sheridan is doin’ a sweet Elvis impression in the prelude. All those stage marathons in Hamburg paid off — the band rocks. Playing the drums is Pete Best, Ringo Starr‘s predecessor in the Beatles. Sheridan and Best recalled the recording session in “Britmania,” which drops October 5.