re: Natalie Wood sings 'Tonight' on Youtube

marknyc
Leading Actor
joined:7/6/07
Well, I'm at it again - I got hold of some rare acetate recordings of Natalie's vocal tracks for WSS, and synched the first one up with the film.

This appears to be a mix of Natalie and Marni - I believe Marni sings the first line: "Only you, you're the only one I see, forever" and also "All the world is only you and me." See if you agree.

Please copy your comments to the Youtube page, too! Thanks.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew9PFy2Qeno
ljay889
Broadway Legend
joined:8/4/04
How did you get her outtakes!?!
#sadandtransparent
BradMajors
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/08
Those acetates were recorded when Miss Wood was doing the pre-recorded tracks for the film. I think they also auditioned two other potential dubbers for her at around the same time. Jackie Ward being one of the other vocalists.
marknyc
Leading Actor
joined:7/6/07
I believe they are copies of Richard Beymer's practice recordings (I don't have the originals).
Updated On: 8/19/08 at 10:10 PM
Elphabuff2
Leading Actor
joined:3/26/05
I didn't know she sang so well. Thank you for finding, arranging, and posting this.
BradMajors
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/08
The image and the acetate recordings synch up perfectly because while they were filming Miss Wood was actually lip synching to her own tracks. The producers did this so she wouldn't know they were even thinking about dubbing her. Every number Wood filmed she filmed to her own vocal tracks.

It was only after filming was completed that they finally brought in Marni Nixon who then had the difficult job of matching Wood's lip movements during the dubbing process.
marknyc
Leading Actor
joined:7/6/07
I included that info in my note on the youtube page - hope it made sense!
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
That's actually all Natalie Wood, there is not dubbing by Marni Nixon at this point, as these are indeed the pre-recorded tracks used for filming. Natalie Wood was furious that she was dubbed for the final product. Most of us have speculated that if this film were being released today, her voice would have been 'sweetened' in the studio but that her voice could definitely have been used. But then the producers of the film of West Side Story apparently wanted a very studio sound all around, which explains why just about everyone in the film was at least partially dubbed.
Updated On: 8/19/08 at 10:37 PM
BradMajors
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/08
I just watched and listened to it again and yes, it is all of Miss Wood's voice on that track.

Saul Chaplin went crazy and just dubbed everyone in that film even Rita Moreno! Moreno wasn't dubbed in America but much to Miss Moreno's chagrin Sony/BMG insists on giving credit to Betty Wand on the CD's liner notes. I believe Moreno was only dubbed on the "A Boy Like That" number and Russ Tamblyn was dubbed by Tucker Smith on "The Jet Song". Jimmy Bryant as was already mentioned dubbed all of Beymer's songs.

I love Jimmy Bryant's "Maria"...it's my favorite version of that song!

Updated On: 8/19/08 at 10:43 PM
Dancin Thru Life
Broadway Star
joined:2/4/07
Whether singing or telling stories...I could listen to Her for hours!

Thanks for posting this!
"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
marknyc
Leading Actor
joined:7/6/07
According to Marni's autobiography, she and Natalie recorded the songs side by side:

"The sessions were set up so that Natalie would first record a song on her own and then I would get up and record the whole song again...they explained my presence by saying that they would be able to mix my high notes into her takes, which I knew at the time was...technically impossible."

So Marni's tracks were available and I'm told that some lines were cut into this recording. To my ear, there is a change in mic quality between the first and second lines, and the first line really sounds like Marni. But that's just my ear.



Updated On: 8/19/08 at 11:00 PM
Phyllis Rogers Stone
Broadway Legend
joined:9/16/07
What's interesting is that I've read and/or seen interviews with Nixon and Rita Moreno where they're pretty harsh about Wood's voice. I remember thinking the first time I heard outtakes that she got a bum rap, especially coming from Moreno, who also had some of her notes dubbed.

And was it really technically impossible to mix the notes from different takes back then? It doesn't seem all that space age to me. Didn't Marni Nixon do some of the higher notes in "Little Lamb" when Wood was in Gypsy?
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Well I've always thought that what is interesting is that Marni's vocal dubs are actually pretty similar to Wood's sound - simply a cleaned up more studio version of what Wood was attempting. I do still think that's all Wood's voice (Nixon wouldn't have needed to dub the first line - it was well in Wood's range) - but their vocal sounds on this material are similar - so you never know.
marknyc
Leading Actor
joined:7/6/07
You're right that Marni was not only a great singer, but an amazing mimic - she managed to sound like Natalie, Deborah AND Audrey! It's the word "forever" that makes me think it's Marni on the first line - it's too well sung, compared to Natalie's high notes, some of which are quite off!
BradMajors
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/08
I remember reading and hearing interviews with Nixon and Moreno regarding the dubbing process especially after the Special Edition DVD of WSS was released and thinking they were unjustly harsh on Wood as well after I heard Natalie's original takes.

Especially Nixon she seemed to relish putting down Wood's original vocals and commenting how allegedly the producers would according to her "praise Wood's vocals" and then wink over to Nixon in the process.

Moreno herself has stated she was "no fan" of Wood's and thought she was out of her element. Two recent biographies on Wood, one by Gavin Lambert, the other by Suzanne Finstadt go so far as to claim that Moreno was intensely jealous of Natalie Wood during the filming.

It's too bad she died so unexpectedly and is not here today to even defend herself or tell her side of how things went down.
Updated On: 8/19/08 at 11:23 PM
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Who wouldn't have been jealous of Natalie Wood in 1960!
BradMajors
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/08


I would have to agree with you Michael Bennett. The above shot was taken of Miss Wood during rehearsals for WSS on the gymnasium set. The woman was absolutely breathtaking!
marknyc
Leading Actor
joined:7/6/07
In the DVD documentary, you can hear Moreno's voice dripping with disdain as she says, "All the stuff with her was shot ... with ... her ... voice." It's kinda funny.

Here's what Marni wrote:

"It was very disheartening to hear them as they listened to her playbacks and extolled her vocal prowess. 'Oh Natalie, that was just wonderful,' they cooed. They were creating a monster. A monster who thought everything she sang was perfect.

I am sure, however, that they thought if they were critical of her vocals in any way that she would walk off the picture before everything was filmed. She had them hostage and they were placating her until they didn't need her anymore.

I heard later that Natalie was very upset and felt betrayed by the powers that be. She sincerely wanted to sing her own tracks. I have to agree that it was cruel of Saul Chaplin and his musical crew to lead her on and make her believe there was a chance they would use her voice.

But in their defense it was their job to make sure that their highly paid and very bankable star finished shooting every scene. In addition, it was their responsibility to present the brilliant and difficult Bernstein/Sondheim score in the best possible light. This they did, and did it well."
Phyllis Rogers Stone
Broadway Legend
joined:9/16/07
Well I've always thought that what is interesting is that Marni's vocal dubs are actually pretty similar to Wood's sound

Yeah, I've thought that, too. I've also assumed that Moreno's harshness may have partially stemmed from the fact that Natalie Wood wasn't hispanic. Still, it's interesting to see how their tsking about poor deluded Natalie and her singing voice was so off the mark.

BradMajors
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/08
It's funny how Moreno's harshness may have stemmed from the fact that Wood wasn't Hispanic but neither was George Chakiris, who was born in Ohio and is of Greek extraction. Where is her disdain for him?

She was just jealous of her. Period.
BradMajors
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/08
I think Nixon did a wonderful job dubbing Wood in WSS. Her versions are the one's I grew up with and will always remain my favorites.
marknyc
Leading Actor
joined:7/6/07
Here's the word from the guy who sent me the recordings:

Marni sings the phrase "There's only you tonight, what you are, what you do, what you say" - plus she loops in on "away"
on "the world went away." Marni also sings "all the world is only you and me" - the rest is pretty much all Natalie.

I don't know if he's guessing, or if he has accurate sources.

Personally, I think Natalie's voice was not up to the task. Perhaps Saul tried to cut in Marni here and there to salvage some of Natalie's recordings, but finally just gave up and threw them out. She hits a lot of unpleasant notes, and Brad is right that Marni's voice is absolutely flawless.
BradMajors
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/08
Nixon is an immensely gifted singer. No ifs, ands or buts about it. She was the perfect choice to dub Wood on WSS.

Her dubbing of Deborah Kerr in "The King and I" is another prime example of her stellar work you can hardly tell where Deborah ends and where Marni begins, especially on "Getting To Know You".
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
I personally am not sure I believe that they would have gone to the trouble of editing and looping portions of Wood'svoice for a pre-rehearsal vocal track. If it was that obvious that Wood needed to be so overdubbed in the initial recording sessions, I doubt Wood would have reacted as strongly as she did upon finding out she was to be dubbed for the final product. Yes, there could have been that much ego involved but I kind of doubt it.

I'm more inclined to believe it was the general belief of the film producers, even early on, that Nixon would completely dub Wood and thats why Nixon was in on the recording sessions. I bet they let Wood sing along to her voice without alterations - and thats what made Nixon's dubbing all the more cruel.

But this has of course entered into the realm of movie folk lore so we will never know for sure.

ljay889
Broadway Legend
joined:8/4/04
Wait. I have never heard that Nixon dubbed some of LITTLE LAMB for Wood.

Wasn't GYPSY a big triumph for Natalie because she got to use all her own vocals.
#sadandtransparent
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
If Marni Nixon had dubbed Wood's last note in LITTLE LAMB, it would have sounded better. I think Wood did all her own singing in GYPSY.

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