Sometime in October of the year 1969, a sixteen-year-old brown-eyed Pennsylvania boy sat down and wrote the words to what he counted as his seventy-first song. Like his hero John Lennon, the young man was inspired by an advertising poster — but not for a circus, as was the case when Mr. Lennon penned Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite. Rather, the ad that caught the youngster’s eye was for a Mother’s Day flower arrangement called “The FTD Sweet Surprise.” Such was the humble yet stirring origin of the song Her Sweet Surprise by the naive, somewhat talented Pennsylvanian boy, Craig H. Collins.
Collins did not use his middle initial at the time. No matter.
Collins would go on to record Her Sweet Surprise four years later (late 1973 or early 1974) in his Carnegie-Mellon University studio (aka dormitory room) in jug-band style, with his friend Rob Simbeck. Collins provided electric guitar, the signature acoustic guitar run, percussion and main vocal. Simbeck played acoustic guitar fill-in and lead as well as some higher-than-currently-imaginable vocal harmonies and an introductory burp. Just recently, Collins decided to digitally remess with the original, forty-year-old, two-track analog tape, adding bass, keyboard and percussion parts. The result can be heard here:
Please listen to this selection on a decent sound system. At least use headphones or earbuds.
Don’t even think about playing it on your tinny little laptop.
I am pleased to announce that, on June 24, 2014, the esteemed auction house Sotheby’s will make available the only known draft of the lyrics to this landmark song (along with lyrics and personal effects of another musician of the 1960s and 1970s). In the copy of the draft (below) you can see that changes were made to the lyrics prior to the final recording. As the manuscript expert Richard Austin said, “Here you have a chorus that is such an iconic piece of history, but it clearly didn’t arrive fully formed. And you wonder, if he chose another rhyme, would it have had the same impact?”
[raw]The draft lyrics are expected to fetch between $1 and $2 million* at auction. All readers of The 100 Billionth Person are invited to submit bids. For convenience, you may enter your bid in the Comment section of this post.[/raw]