Hy Zaret

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Hy Zaret
Birth nameHyman Harry Zaritsky
Also known asHy Zaret
Born(1907-08-21)August 21, 1907
OriginNew York City, New York, United States
DiedJuly 2, 2007(2007-07-02) (aged 99)
Years active19352007

Hy Zaret (born Hyman Harry Zaritsky, August 21, 1907 – July 2, 2007)[1] was an American Tin Pan Alley[2] lyricist and composer best known as the co-author of the 1955 hit "Unchained Melody," one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century.[3]

Early life[edit]

Zaret was born in New York City and attended West Virginia University and Brooklyn Law School, where he received an LLB.


He scored his first major success in 1937, when he teamed up with Saul Chaplin and Sammy Cahn to co-write the pop standard "Dedicated to You." The early 1940s brought some collaborations with Alex C. Kramer and Joan Whitney, including 1941's "It All Comes Back to Me Now" and the socially conscious, WWII-themed "My Sister and I."

Zaret wrote the lyrics for an English translation of the French Resistance song "La Complainte du Partisan" ("The Song of the French Partisan"). The song became popular after it was recorded by Leonard Cohen and others as "The Partisan". In 1944 he and Lou Singer wrote the popular hit novelty song "One Meatball", based on a song popular among Harvard undergraduates.[2]

Unchained Melody[edit]

Zaret's biggest success, though, was "Unchained Melody," a song he co-wrote with film composer Alex North for the 1955 prison film Unchained (hence the title), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. No fewer than three versions of the song—by Les Baxter, Al Hibbler, and Roy Hamilton—hit the U.S. Top Ten that year, with Hibbler's version ranking as the best-known for the next ten years. The song was also recorded successfully by Jimmy Young and Liberace, and covered by countless others, but The Righteous Brothers' 1965 version—given a supremely romantic production by Phil Spector—became the definitive take, reaching the U.S. pop Top Five. That recording was revived in 1990 thanks to its inclusion in the film, Ghost, and nearly reached the U.S. Top Ten all over again, whilst it reached No.1 in the U.K on this release. Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Cliff Richard, Roy Orbison and Donny Osmond also recorded versions of the song. This song is unique in that it has made No.1 on the U.K. singles charts in four different guises by four different artists over a period of nearly fifty years: Jimmy Young (1955), The Righteous Brothers (1990), Robson & Jerome (1995) and Gareth Gates (2002). The latter three versions have all recorded certified sales in excess of one million copies in the U.K. alone.

Children's music[edit]

Zaret turned his attention to educational children's music in the late 1950s, collaborating with Lou Singer on a six-album series called "Ballads for the Age of Science"; different volumes covered space, energy and motion, experiments, weather, and nature. The records were quite successful, and the songs "Why Does the Sun Shine" (aka "The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas") and "A Shooting Star Is Not a Star" were even covered by alternative rock band They Might Be Giants in 1993 and 2009, respectively. (source: Steve Huey, Allmusic)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Martin, Douglas (July 3, 2007). "Hy Zaret, 99, Tin Pan Alley Lyricist, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  2. ^ a b "Song for Hard Times", Harvard Magazine, May–June 2009
  3. ^ Dowling, Stephen (November 6, 2003). "Brothers in good company with hits". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-07-03.

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