Sunday, February 15, 2009

Johnny Ray

Johnny Ray wasn’t a crooner, he was the opposite – an emoter. He lived in the crooner’s universe though, pre-rock and roll.

His whole delivery was so over-the-top that it’s hard to believe that he was taken seriously. But he was taken seriously indeed.The girls loved him, they would swoon, or so I’ve read, I wasn’t actually there.

This is a small collection I picked up on a pre-recorded cassette. I think it was called Cry And Other Hits. If it wasn't then is should have been.

Johnny Ray:

Cry – Stan Freberg did a send-up of this, called Try, but it wasn’t necessary, this song is a send-up all on its own. Go ahead and cry, advice to the guys? A big big hit in 1952. Ronnie Dove put it in the charts in 1966.
Just Walking In The Rain – This song was top 10 in the fall of ’56. Not to be confused with Walking In The Rain by The Ronnettes / Jay & The Americans. The rain of course is a stand in for tears.
Here I Sit Broken Hearted – Not the poem we used to see on public bathroom walls. Johnny’s girl has taken off with his best friend. A popular theme (The Cars anyone?) but, says Johnny, bad enough I had to lose her, I had to lose him too…
Hey There – Rosemary Clooney owns this, and Sammy Davis Jr. did a passable version (several actually), but Ray doesn’t sound comfortable with it. A UK hit in the fall of ’55.
Alexander’s Ragtime Band – A hit for Bing Crosby
Paths Of Paradise – A bit of pop song philosophy. Given the double life that Ray must have lived, this song about making your own path must have resonated. A UK hit in the spring of ’55.
Little White Cloud That Cried – A big hit from 1952.
Please Mr. Sun – I love the harp in this one. Johnny calls on all the forces of nature to plead his case with his special girl, the sun, the rainbow, the trees, the wind etc. This was a hit for Tommy Edwards

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