Jan 04

MICHAEL HOLLIDAY – “The Story Of My Life”

Popular21 comments • 3,632 views

#68, 14th February 1958

Hiding in here somewhere is a gentle love ballad that Holliday decides to ignore. Instead the song goes uptempo and the singer is joined by a rogues’ gallery of backing singers who trill, hum, b-dum and doodle-doo whenever he so much as draws breath. Does it ruin the record? Far from it – the droll arrangement means “Story Of My Life” sidesteps smarm in favour of charm, ending up as a sweet statement of love’s unshakeable confidence.



  1. 1
    Chris Adams on 19 Aug 2006 #

    Who’s “Holloway” ? It’s Michael Holliday & he was terrifc in singing.

  2. 2
    Tom on 19 Aug 2006 #

    Corrected – thankyou!

  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 14 May 2008 #

    Burt Bacharach’s first number 1 anywhere, knocked off the top by his second! Burt’s tally of UK number ones compared to US is astonishing.

    One of those chipper songs I never tire of (along with doomed MH’s second chart topper). Maybe it’s because I’m from England, but this is so much cosier and more romantic than vile redneck Marty Robbins’ original.

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Michael Holliday was a frequent presence on British Television, but only three performances survive;

    OH BOY!: with Jimmy Henney, Michael Holliday, Cherry Wainer, Lord Rockingham’s XI, Peter Elliott, Cliff Richard, The Dallas Boys, Neville Taylor and the Cutters, The Drifters, ‘Cuddly’ Dudley (1958)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with The Deep River Boys, Spike Milligan, Eric Delaney and his Band, Chris Barber and his Jazz Band with Ottilie Patterson, Michael Holliday, Don Lang and his Frantic Five, Freddie Mills (1957)

    VAL PARNELL’S SPECTACULAR: The Michael Holliday Show (1960)

    These shows are all lost to posterity;

    THE SHOW BAND SHOW: with The Stargazers, Michael Holliday, Shirley Wilson, Winifred Atwell (1956)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Dennis Lotis, Michael Holliday, Terry Dene, Jim Dale, Ken Mackintosh And His Orchestra, Chris Barber and his Jazz Band with Ottilie Patterson, Don Lang and his Frantic Five (1957)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Denny Boyce and his Band, Desmond Lane, Michael Holliday (1957)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Josephine Douglas, Pete Murray, Freddie Mills, Michael Holliday, Mike and Bernie Winters, Terry Wayne, Don Lang and his Frantic Five, The Don Rendell Jazz Six, Sonny Stewart and his Skiffle Kings (1957)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Kenny Baker and his Dozen, Michael Holliday, The King Brothers, Pollishnof (1957)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Michael Holliday, Maria Ryan, Johnny Duncan and the Blue Grass Boys, Graham Stark, Laurie Gold and his Pieces Of Eight, Jim Dale, The Five Dallas Boys, Johnnie Gray, Freddie Mills, Don Lang and his Frantic Five (1957)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Michael Holliday, Rosemary Squires, Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band with Marie Knight, Johnny Duncan and the Blue Grass Boys, Frantic Five (1958)

    SUMMER SERENADE: with Anthony Oliver, Peter Yorke And His Orchestra, Lizbeth Webb, Michael Holliday, Peter Darrell (1956)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Petula Clark, Alma Cogan, Tommy Cooper, Freddie Earlle, Michael Holliday, The Kaye Sisters, The Mudlarks, The Temperance Seven, Jeannie Lambe, Helen Shapiro (1961)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Petula Clark, Michael Holliday, Mark Wynter (1961)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Petula Clark, Russ Conway, Michael Holliday, The Brook Brothers, Mike Cotton Jazzmen, Mike Sarne, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Keith Fordyce (1962)

  5. 5
    Pete Baran on 7 Dec 2009 #

    OK, let’s repopulate this with the admission that I have no idea who Michael Holliday was and the version I know is the Marty Robbins, which I own along with probably everyone else of my generation on THAT best of Burt compo. Never been a favourite of mine, though it is an interesting one of a piece with Magic Moments being much more showtuney than much of B&D’s later work. The real selling point on Story Of My Life though is the whistling, which kind of distracts from the not very compelling story of whoevers dull life is being told.

    Redneck he may be, but I have always had a very soft spot of Marty Robbins, tossing out his cowboy albums which now seem really rather odd. that said the rolling sound of Five Brothers got me to work just about on time more times than I expected.

    So does anyone know anything about Holliday?

  6. 6
    wichita lineman on 7 Dec 2009 #

    One of my record dealer friends is Michael Holliday’s nephew (or second cousin). Apparently he was in the closet in an era when you had to be, and ended up taking his life in 1963.

    He was clearly indebted to Bing Crosby and Perry Como, but I’m very fond of Holliday’s voice. Beyond his brace of number ones, The Runaway Train will be familiar to anyone around my age as a Junior Choice favourite. And the last 45 he recorded, the intriguingly titled Drums, was a Brill Building effort IIRC that was good enough for me to pick up a year or two back.

    If cowboy country is your meat, Pete, his first hit, 1956’s Nothin’ To Do, is a particularly bleak acoustic effort – you wait for the punchline and there isn’t one. Which maybe explains why the story of his life can be summed up a couple of years later in just over two minutes.

  7. 7
    Pete Baran on 7 Dec 2009 #

    Oh, HE did the Runaway Train (and she blew!!!) I could probably have lived my life without knowing that, but it feels good to actually know. It is possible we had that on vinyl as a nipper next to Winking Blinking And Nod.

  8. 8
    lonepilgrim on 7 Dec 2009 #

    I really like his voice on this – it sounds so effortless and unaffected against the ‘vocal stylings’ of the backing singers which make an effective contrast. The dovetailing of music and lyric from Bacharach and David helps immensely.
    The melody reminds me of ‘Singing the Blues’ a bit.

  9. 9
    Pete on 8 Dec 2009 #

    Is Singing The Blues the ur 50’s song?

  10. 10
    wichita lineman on 8 Dec 2009 #

    Could be. Just Walking In The Rain and Magic Moments pinched its whistling bonhomie too.

  11. 11
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #


    James Heriot, writer (1975).

  12. 12
    flahr on 1 Sep 2012 #

    Goodbye to Hal David. 91 isn’t a bad innings at all.

  13. 13
    enitharmon on 2 Sep 2012 #

    Yes, I’ll be saying a little prayer for Hal.

  14. 14
    wichita lineman on 2 Sep 2012 #

    Did Hal ever get to write the story of his life? It seems we know so much more about Burt. Songs like The Last One To Be Loved, Any Day Now, A House Is Not A Home and I Wake Up Crying are a pefect mesh of music and lyric – Bob Hilliard was Burt Bacharach’s writing partner on Story Of My Life and Magic Moments, and I think that Hal’s more thoughtful* lyrics must have driven Bacharach to write music and arrangements to match.

    *which isn’t to do down the Jimmy Stewart-esque American simplicity and playfulness of Hilliard’s efforts.

  15. 15
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Sep 2012 #

    There’ll always be something there to remind us of him. One of the giants of the industry. RIP, Hal.

  16. 16
    wichita lineman on 2 Sep 2012 #

    Sorry, I was talking out of my hat. Hal was behind this AND Magic Moments, and Bob Hilliard wrote the lyric for Any Day Now.

    So bang goes my theory. Burt and Hal both upped their game simultaneously.

  17. 17
    Dan Quigley on 3 Sep 2012 #

    16, I wonder whether it was a matter of waiting around for others to create a form that suited their talents. Another late-bloomer a generation or so earlier was Cole Porter, who produced undistinguished novelty songs and operettas until his mid-thirties when he noticed that younger writers like Rodgers and Hart and the Gershwins had started writing the type of cosmopolitan, jazz-inflected and playful songs that he should have been writing all along.

    I feel that a similar thing may have been the case with Bacharach/David, who dithered about in Mitch Millerian pop for some time after their younger Brill Building colleagues started writing lyrically direct songs with more than four chords for girl groups and R&B singers.

    It’s easy to underrate a lyricist as unshowy as David, and there is certainly a lot of clumsiness in his work, but I think Bacharach’s would have had a much harder time getting away with his more daring flights of fancy (I’m thinking specifically at this moment of A House Is Not A Home’s zero-gravity middle 8, but there’s a ton more) if he had been working with a more cerebral writer who attempted to match him idea for idea.

  18. 18
    wichita lineman on 6 Sep 2012 #

    Re 17 – good point. It seems curious that they stayed in Mitch Miller-land when everyone else was fast leaving town. Still, their songs were strong enough to chart. I really recommend the recent El compilation Long Ago Last Summer which captures their writing in transition from ’59 to ’61.

  19. 19
    lonepilgrim on 22 Jul 2018 #

    Elvis Costello reveals in his memoir ‘Unfaithful Music’ that Holliday’s real name was Norman Milne and while he was working as a merchant seaman used to buy US jazz records ordered by EC’s mother and smuggle them ashore for her so that she could avoid import tax and sell them to jazz fans at the Liverpool record shop where she worked

  20. 20

    Music for yoghurt adverts. 4/10

  21. 21
    Gareth Parker on 9 Jun 2021 #

    I rather like this, I could go up to a 7/10 here.

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