Now playing: To sir with love, performed originally by Lulu
from songfacts.com (an anthology of excerpts from various news feature magazines, not footnoted):
“This is the title song to the 1967 movie of the same name. Lulu was in the film with Sidney Poitier – she got the gig after director James Clavell saw her open a show for The Beach Boys. At first she had just a small role in the movie, but Clavell was so impressed with her that he expanded her role and had her sing the theme. The film stars Poitier as a high school teacher who has a big impact on his unruly students. Lulu plays one of his students, and sings this song to him at the end of the film as the students show their appreciation for the teacher.
“Lulu is a charismatic Scottish singer known for her moving rendition of this song. She was born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Laurie (one source cites “Lawrie” as the spelling). She also sang the title song for the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. From 1969 to 1973, Lulu was married to pop star Maurice Gibb. >>
This was Billboard’s single of the year for 1967, having been #1 for five weeks in the USA. However in Lulu’s native UK it was only ever a B-side to her #11 hit “Let’s Pretend.”
“Don Black wrote the lyrics and Mark London composed the music. Black revealed to the Sunday Times August 10, 2008: “It’s one of the very, very few songs that I’ve worked on where I’ve written the words first. Normally, I may give the composer a title or suggest a couple of lines, but I don’t like to write the whole lyric first. If you write the lyric first, you tend to ramble. You want the structure there to work against it.”
Lulu performed this song on The Ed Sullivan Show on October 22, 1967, which was the day after hit #1 in America.
The version used in the movie has three verses. For the single release, the third verse (“Those awkward years, have hurried by…”) was edited out.
This was produced by Mickie Most, and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin fame was the musical director. At the time, Most was the, er, most successful producer in the UK, a consistent hitmaker whose CV includes “I’m Into Something Good” for Herman’s Hermits and “Sunshine Superman” for Donovan. Most set up his own record company, RAK, in 1970, and signed Hot Chocolate, Suzie Quatro and Racey to the label”