The song's generally accepted copyright dates back to 1961, when it was registered with the Friendship Music Corporation, a collaborative endeavor between Guaraldi and good friend Frank Werber, who at the time was well-regarded for having turned the Kingston Trio into touring and recording stars. But Guaraldi had been noodling around with "Fate" for several years before that; one former Daly City neighbor recalls hearing him working on it in the late 1950s, when she was a little girl whose mother pointed to Guaraldi as an example of the way somebody should faithfully practice the piano.
"I'll tell you when I wrote it," Guaraldi later recalled, during an interview with his longtime friend and advocate Ralph Gleason. "I think it was in '58, just about when I left Cal. In fact, I brought it to Cal, but I never played it until after I left Woody, when I was at Outside at the Inside, in Palo Alto."
Outside at the Inside — initially known as Caffe Court — opened August 7, 1959. Guaraldi backed singer Valerie Knight during the first week of business, and then he joined Herman's band for a week in Las Vegas. Next up was a long stint down in Southern California, with the Lighthouse All-Stars, after which Guaraldi returned north and began a yearlong residency at Outside at the Inside in the spring of 1960. So if Guaraldi remembered the details accurately during that chat with Gleason, we can assume this is when the pianist publicly unveiled "Cast Your Fate to the Wind."
Why, then, wasn't the song copyrighted sooner?
Ah, but it was ... and therein lies a tale.
A careful search of records at the U.S. Copyright Office reveals that "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" first was registered on May 6, 1960, with "Vincent" (not Vince) Guaraldi identified as author. The copyright was held by Car Mar Music, a micro-label (publisher?) that represented long-forgotten artists such as Jack Carroll, Harry Dupree, Roger E. Garris, C.C. Skinner, Bob Strahl and Bob Walters.
Car Mar Music appears to have operated only in the late 1950s, and was located at 15417 Sutton Street in Sherman Oaks, California. That address also happened to be the residence of popular musician and bandleader Muzzy Marcellino, one of Guaraldi's two uncles. At the time, Marcellino was well into his long run as leader of Art Linkletter's House Party band, and the puzzle pieces come together even more securely when we examine the one and only LP Marcellino released with that combo, 1959's House Party Music Time. The track listing includes "Bob's Blues," written by Bob Walters; and "Heap Big Chief," by Bob Strahl. Both songs were represented by Car Mar, which also handled some of Marcellino's own compositions: "Call of the Bird Watchers," "Hoot Hill" and "Li'l Pedro."
Muzzy's sister — Carmella, Vince's mother — shared the family name, of course, and it's not too much of a stretch to deduce that Muzzy named his company after Carmella Marcellino. It's also logical to assume to Muzzy did his nephew a favor, and took out the first copyright on Vince's new song. He was between contracts with Fantasy Records, and therefore without other representation, so turning to his Uncle Muzzy would have been the obvious choice.
And here's where the saga gets really good...
...because that 1960 copyright is for words and music by Vince Guaraldi.
No, not the lyrics later written and copyrighted by Carel Werber; this is an entirely different set of lyrics — Guaraldi's own — that never saw the light of a recording studio. It's tantalizing to wonder whether these words were sung by any of the many vocalists with whom he worked, during his year at Outside at the Inside; we'll probably never know the answer to that question.
As for the lyrics themselves ... here they are, typed onto the sheet music that was submitted to validate this 1960 copyright:
Pretty cool, eh?
And before you ask, I have no idea why Guaraldi's song would have been submitted on manuscript branded by the Vic Valente Orchestra.
One year later, having secured a one-album contract from Fantasy for what would become Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, Guaraldi and Werber formed their Friendship Music partnership, which held ownership of the two original songs Guaraldi put on the album: "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and "Alma-Ville." We can assume Guaraldi wasn't optimistic about his long-range prospects with Fantasy's Max Weiss at that point, and therefore wanted to retain control of the songs himself. Once "Fate" and the album became chart-placing hits, and Max's relationship with Guaraldi became, ah, more cordial, Fantasy once again assumed ownership of all subsequent Guaraldi compositions, as had been the case with the pianist's earlier work for the label ... at least, until Guaraldi successfully sued Fantasy in 1966, in order to terminate the relationship. As a result, "Fate" and "Alma-Ville" were the only two Guaraldi compositions represented by Friendship Music.
The songwriters standard contract for "Fate" was signed with Friendship Music on August 27, 1961. Not quite two months later, on October 16, Friendship took out a new copyright on the song, a document that is intriguing for several reasons. For openers, it makes no mention of the earlier Car Mar copyright; while we can assume that Vince's Uncle Muzzy cheerfully relinquished the song, the failure to reference the original copyright remains odd. (I also have to wonder if Guaraldi never told Werber about that first copyright.) Second, "replacement" copyright applications are submitted only when required by the presence of "renewable matter," such as an entirely new arrangement of a song's music, or the addition of lyrics. While the submitted manuscript includes guitar and bass lines that were absent in the 1960 Car Mar version, the lead line (melody) is virtually identical. (See manuscript below.)
Would the presence of the bass vamp, soon to become famous itself, have been enough to warrant a "renewable matter" designation? Or might this deposit have been approved on the basis of the absence of Guaraldi's original lyrics, which are nowhere to be found in the Copyright Office documents for this 1961 registration?
The registration form itself is vague, with only a single word — music — in the "renewable matter" section.
But we're not done yet. Far from it, in fact.
Not quite a few months later, on January 2, 1962, Friendship Music obtained a third copyright on "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," this time claiming that the "renewable matter" was a "piano arrangement." (Point of interest: The song is identified on this document — and none of the others — as a "work made for hire.")
We can assume that Guaraldi had shaped the song into the version that we know and love, and which was recorded in February, as one of eight tracks cut onto his next LP, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus. The album was released on April 18, at which point it — and the single, containing "Samba de Orpheus" and "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" — began their (very!) slow build toward hit status, a process which I've documented elsewhere.
"Fate" entered Billboard's "Hot 100" pop chart at No. 94 for the week ending December 8, 1962. A few weeks later, on January 2, 1963, Friendship Music took out a fourth copyright on the song, this time to reflect the addition of lyrics by Frank Werber's wife, Carel. A few months later, as winter yielded to spring, Mel Torme became the first vocalist to record the song. Although his version didn't see any chart action in this country, it became a hit in Australia, where it climbed to No. 4 on May 25.
Back in the States, "Fate" had made its final appearance on Billboard's Hot 100 chart on April 6, having peaked at No. 22 on February 23. But Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus was just beginning to shine; after debuting at No. 130 on February 2, on Billboard's Top 150 Album Chart, it peaked at No. 24 on May 18, following Guaraldi's Grammy Award win for "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," and right around the time that Torme's vocal version would have been circulating on the radio. The album continued to rise and fall on the chart until August 10, but nobody else recorded vocal versions of Guaraldi's hit song until the spring of 1965 ... when all sorts of folks tried for their piece of the action, no doubt encouraged by the chart success afforded the British-based Sounds Orchestral band's instrumental cover.
And there the copyright saga of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" concludes, aside from a few loose ends.
The original 1960 registration was renewed December 30, 1988, by Dia Guaraldi, the pianist's daughter.
The 1961 registration was renewed January 17, 1989, by Vince Guaraldi's estate.
The 1962 registration was renewed December 21, 1990, by the Warner Brothers Music Corp.
And, finally, the 1963 registration was renewed January 22, 1991, by Carel Werber ... and the poor woman's name, so often misspelled then and even now, initially was typed incorrectly on this document, as well:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind" continues to enjoy considerable exposure; Guaraldi's 1962 recording still gets plenty of radio play, and is ubiquitous on recent anthologies of his musical career. It was, of course, included on Fantasy's remastered edition of Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, released in September 2010. That album also provided an alternate take of "Fate."
Most of the recent and newly arriving covers by other performers, however, have been instrumentals by jazz artists. Vocal covers have become rare, and almost all of the many 1960s vocal versions have become long-forgotten curiosities.
Wouldn't it be nifty, though, if some enterprising singer successfully navigated the necessary legal waters and recorded the song with Guaraldi's original lyrics?