February 18, 2013
Shadow Morton’s tiny Top 40 operas
By all accounts possessed of a brazen, naive genius — he played no instrument, could not read music and wrote his songs in his head — Morton was almost single-handedly responsible for the wild success of the Shangri-Las, the New York girl group he introduced and propelled to international stardom.
The group had its first hit in 1964 with “Remember,” recorded more or less on a dare in a session frantically pulled together by Morton, who had never written a song before.
A song of lost love, “Remember” was imbued with the lush, infectious strangeness that would prove a hallmark of Morton’s other hits. It employed a narrative, quasi-operatic plot, spoken dialogue, chanting, unconventional sound effects (in this case sea gulls) and lyrics that encapsulated all the ardor and angst of the teenage years.