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The Melody Lingers On: Fascination

Tony Thornton, with a smile in his words, tells of the night when red-haired “Maureen’’ from the dole office and her partner came dancing by while he and his mates were playing the beautiful waltz Fascination.

Tony’s columns on the greatest popular songs of the Twentieth Century are being read and enjoyed around the world. If you haven’t already tuned in to his musical words make sure you click on The Melody Lingers On in the menu on this page.

During my early years, I was a bass player in a dance band as my only occupation. In other words, I was on the dole. The piano player and the drummer were in the same predicament and we signed on together every Friday morning.

Our dragon of a dole lady was a Maureen O'Hara look alike with a head of brilliant orange hair.

But when we had first registered as unemployed, I sensed that Maureen (we called her Maureen) had an ear for music. As she made out our job description cards one by one, she said:

"Pianist? Keep trying lad."

"Bass player? Hmn!"

"Drummer?" (sniff!)

Because none of us had a day job, we couldn't coin it in after dark, so we rarely took engagements in our home town (Accrington, Lancs). The ogres at the DHSS didn't take kindly to moonlighting and they might find out that we weren't declaring our musical income.
But one Saturday evening we played for a Mayoral bash at the prestigious Accrington Conservative Club.

It had a lovely ballroom with a high stage, and one of those multi-faceted globes that rotated high up from the ceiling. A spotlight reflected spikes of light that whizzed everywhere.

Halfway through the beautiful waltz Fascination, the drummer pointed to a whirling couple across the room and there was no mistaking the orange apparition that was waltzing our way.

Her speed and direction indicated that she would glide in front of the bandstand within the minute. Sure enough, her partner executed a neat reverse turn that brought her face to face with her supposedly unemployed.

We met her frown of disapproval with weak smiles foreseeing banishment from the dole queue and a spell behind bars. The following Friday we trooped into the dole office and joined the queue. The orange beacon loomed. But we needn't have worried. Maureen doled out our money with a smile and a broad wink.

So how come? Well, I like to think that she was thanking us for playing the music that brought her and her partner together – and that by the time the dance to Fascination had ended, their romance had changed from a fickle flirtation to a long-lasting love.

Whenever I hear that song I think about Maureen and how at the time, I realized how much pleasure music (and musicians) can bring to people’s lives. I signed off to become a professional musician and I never went back on the dole.


It was fascination I know,
And it might have ended right then at the start.
Just a passing glance. Just a brief romance.
And I might have gone on my way empty hearted.

It was fascination I know,
Seeing you alone with the moonlight above.
Then I touched your hand and next moment I kissed you.
Fascination turned to love.


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