October 16

“Poetry in Motion:” Inspired by a Procession of Young Ladies

The late singer Johnny Tillotson was able to establish a reputation as a talented singer during his high school days. He had his TV show and later landed a recording contract while studying at the University of Florida. However, his entry to the music world as a professional singer was not a smash. In late 1959, Tillotson recorded five singles, all of them failed to crack the Top 50 of Hot 100. He scored his first highest-charting hit with his sixth single.

The up-tempo record “Poetry in Motion” which was released in September 1960 almost topped the pop chart in the US. The song peaked at No. 2; but in the UK, the single was more successful. It became a No. 1 song on the UK Singles chart in January 1961.

Brief Song Background

Songwriters Paul Kaufman and Mike Anthony wrote the song “Poetry in Motion” together which gave Johnny Tillotson his first highest-charting record. The songwriters shared the inspiration of the song. Looking up from their workplace, they saw a parade of young ladies from a nearby school. They further noted that each afternoon, these ladies would pass by on the sidewalk outside. Seeing this normal scenario at work ignited the musical creativity in the songwriters. They ended up writing the song “Poetry in Motion” with that experience. Thanks to both of them, Tillotson has his breakthrough hit with their penned tune.

The recording of the song took place in Nashville, Tennessee under the supervision of Bill Porter. Featured in it are saxophonist Boots Randolph and pianist Floyd Cramer. Several singers of various origins were charmed to record their version of the song. These remakes were made by artists from Sweden, Germany, Czech, among others. Moreover, aside from the US and UK, the song also was also a charting single in some European countries including Germany and Belgium.

Listen to Johnny Tillotson’s rendition of the song “Poetry in Motion” below.

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Johnny Tillotson, Mike Anthony, Paul Kaufman, Poetry in Motion

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