The song “Mona Lisa” was written for a spy movie, the setting of which was in Italy, soon after the end of WWII. It was entitled, “Captain Carey, USA,” and the song won an Academy Award for Best Original Movie Song in 1949. The songwriting duo of Ray & Jay were tasked to come up with an instantly identifiable melody that, in the movie, signaled potential danger.
Nat King Cole sang the song with orchestral backing in the early 1950’s, setting the standard. To my knowledge, it wasn’t recorded again until Willie Nelson covered it, and released it on his “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” record, in 1981.
Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to learn to sing and play the song, “Mona Lisa,” using my guitar as accompaniment. There was no template to follow, but the lyrics and chords could be found online. The song seemed tricky in spots, until I discovered it to have been written in 3/4 time. That is waltz tempo.
It took a good amount of repetition, but I finally cracked “The Code.” It was after the fact, that I was able to watch the movie, and found that I had indeed sung it as it had been covered by the Italian guitar player and vocalist in the movie.
After I had recorded the melody, playing my guitar, and singing, my friends joined me, adding their instruments in succession: Ben Beckendorf, ably added some Fender electric bass guitar; Elana James, fiddle player, added some classic “Italian Dressing” to the mix, so to speak, and Jim Christian played mandolin, countering most every musical phrase the violin would play, throughout. To me, the interplay just sounds like a work of Art. (pun intended)
Monday, May 23rd, 2022, I will be releasing my version of the song, “Mona Lisa.” I hope you enjoy what I am just happy to have been a part of… playing my guitar and singing… along with my talented friends.