'Unchained Melody' Lyricist Dies at 99 Lyricist Hy Zaret, who wrote the haunting words to "Unchained Melody," one of the most frequently recorded songs of the 20th century, has died at age 99.

'Unchained Melody' Lyricist Dies at 99

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/11710153/11710154" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


We read today of the death of lyricist Hy Zaret who is 99 years old. He was one of those denizens of Tin Pan Alley who could compose lyrics to order. He wrote the song "One Meatball." He wrote jingles. But if you've never heard of him, you've almost certainly heard his most famous lyric.

According to his obituary in the New York Times, the composer Alex North phoned Hy Zaret and asked him to write lyrics for a song he had just written. It was for a 1955 movie "Unchained." Zaret said he was busy painting his house, but he took some time out. And as we have all known ever since, time can do so much.

(Soundbite of song "Unchained Melody")

Unidentified Man #1: (Singing) Oh, my love…

Unidentified Woman #1: (Singing) My darling, I've hungered for your touch.

Unidentified Man #2: (Singing) A long, lonely time.

Unidentified Woman #2: (Singing) Time goes by so…

Unidentified Group: (Singing) So slowly and time can do so much. Are you still mine? I need your love.

Unidentified Man #3: (Singing) I need your love. Godspeed your love to me.

Mr. BOBBY HATFIELD (Member, The Righteous Brothers): (Singing) Lonely rivers flow to the sea, to the sea.

Unidentified Man #4: (Singing) To the open arms of the sea. I just have to tell you that…

Mr. ELVIS PRESLEY (Singer): (Singing) I need your love. Godspeed your love to me.

SIEGEL: Various artists and others singing the lyric to "Unchained Melody," written in 1955 by Hy Zaret. Zaret died yesterday at age 99.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.