Friday, November 23, 2007
I'll say right off the bat that today's selection is one which may have many listeners having the sort of negative response which may range anywhere from "no, that's not for me" to violently stopping the sound file with something approaching disgust. And I'll admit that the opening 19 seconds, which contain a dramatic recitative type introduction, are cringworthy, and I encourage you to wait them out and try the rest of the song.
There is simply something about a certain subset of teen girl records from the late '50's and early '60's that makes those records connect with me in a way few other records do. I've already shared the Merigail Moreland recording of "Oo-Lee, Papa", in this blog and elsewhere, and the masterful "What's She Got (That I Ain't Got)".
In this case, the song is "She's Going Steady with You", by Janie Grant, the B-side of a hit song from 1962 called "Triangle". While the A-side visits much the same topic within the same genre of music, the real winner is hiding on the flipside, and should have been the hit.
It helps that the song is, at times, taken almost directly from the song "A Fool Such as I", in terms of chords and melody, and that the overall feel is similar to Elvis' rendition of "Fool" (perhaps my favorite of Elvis' big hits). But there's something more to it, and for me, that's in the singer's performance.
There are at least as many teen girl songs in this genre that I can't stand, the worst of all perhaps being "Bobby's Girl", and that's where I have a hard time explaining what's wonderful and what's horrid. For me the difference tends to be in what I perceive in the performance.
In "Bobby's Girl" and its ilk, I don't sense for a moment that the singer or anyone else on the record believes the lyric - the singer sounds like she's there to do a job. On today's record and others I have shared and might share, I sense that the singer feels the lyric with every inch of her being, perhaps has even lived it, and I also find that the music sounds as if the musicians were trying to make a good record, rather than simply make something that 13 year olds might like for a month.
Have a listen, and let me know what you think: