Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Friday Song & Cover: Crying by Roy, Glen, Don, K.D. y Rebekha

roy-crying-covers

My hometown colleague Sal Gomez reminded me that the great Roy Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988) celebrated a birthday this week. He’d have been 78, so I thought to highlight what is arguably his greatest ballad. The timeless, Crying. As well, it’s a song covered with some very notable interpretations, by equally talented artists. Two renditions have film connections, as it happens.

As Bill Dahl of Allmusic wrote:

Under no circumstances should Roy Orbison’s “Crying” ever be listened to by anyone who’s even remotely depressed. The grief, regret, and eternal damnation to an existence drenched in tears that Orbison vividly invests with typically breathtaking vocal bravado could be overwhelming enough to drive anyone so inclined to end it all. For more stable types, “Crying” is simply a beautiful albeit heart-wrenching ballad that opens with an innocuous rhythm carried by tom-tom and acoustic guitar (the latter likely the work of Orbison himself) and steadily builds via sweeping strings and a heavy dose of melodramatic intensity to a climax of utterly shattering proportions. Orbison nails a stunning high note at the end, his mighty pipes holding it for what seems like an eternity as the strings and drums throb with sheer dread.”

crying45Composed by Joe Melson, L. Sharpe, and Roy Orbison, the song was released as a single (that be a 45rpm vinyl record, by the way) in July of 1961. I was seven years old when this made its way to AM radio. My mother certainly played it enough. No doubt connecting with the honest and passionate lyrics. Sung by a fellow Texan, at that. The fairly popular Candy Man would be its B-side, for the analog fans reading this.

Reportedly inspired (I ask you, how could it not be?) by a broken love affair of Orbison’s a few years earlier. The song remains nothing but pure earnestness done to music. As a kid, I didn’t connect with the tune initially, like my mother had. That would come later, like everyone else, when heartbreak began to really register. It topped the Cashbox chart for a week on October 7, 1961, peaking at #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100

The ballad might well be the most personal tune in my music library. It remains a popular ballad with a number of cover songs through the years. Five of which keep Roy’s best company on my iPod.

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Roy Orbison expressing himself as only he could. His favorite song, Roy sang Crying for all he was worth. On playback, his original still sends shivers my way all these years later.

If there’s any song a weak-throated singer shouldn’t go near, even on a good day, it’s Crying. Glen Campbell always had a marvelous voice, and this cover from his seventh album, the 1967 commercial hit Gentle on My Mind, showed it off. “…a wonderfully restrained and beautiful rendition”, as Bruce Eder said. Indeed.

The album Chain Lightning took years from recording to release, but Don McLean’s cover of Crying was the reason it saw light. Having gathered steam and airplay overseas in 1980, it went on to be a U.S. top five single in ’81. A first for its covers to reach that high since Orbison’s. Slower in tempo, but just as melancholy.

K.D. Lang gathered well-earned acclaim by the 80s, but Crying rose her career higher. In 1987, Lang performed a duet with Orbison on his old hit, which was initially recorded for the film Hiding Out. Roy’s voice couldn’t reach the notes he once did by this time. Lang’s backing filled it in, as only she could, giving the song a beautiful rendering.

As if it needed proving, the undoubtably awesome Ms. Lang demonstrated she could possess this ballad on her own. K.D.’s sublime solo of Crying made it distinctly clear, to all those listening, a man’s voice wasn’t a requirement to bring this musical tale of sorrow to bear.

Crying, as a song, exposes all. Heart and voice. It’s pitiless for those not up to it. So when Rebekha Del Rio performed an a cappella version of the song, in Spanish no less, entitled “Llorando”, for all the world to see in Silencio theatre for David Lynch’s 2001 film, Mulholland Drive, the result was simply jaw-dropping. The movie scene says it all, and then some. Without shame, Rebekha’s cover can get me crying. Every time.

The gifted Venezuelan lyricist Thania Sanz translated Crying into Llorando especially for Ms. Del Rio. I recommend reading the full story here.

Llorando
(Spanish Version)
Crying
(English Version)
Yo estaba bien por un tiempo
volviendo a sonreir
luego anoche te vi
tu mano me toco
y el saludo de tu voz
te hable muy bien y tu
sin saber
que he estado llorando por tu amor
llorando por tu amor
llorando por tu amor
luego de tu adios
senti todo mi dolor
sola y llorando llorando llorando
no es facil de entender
que al verte otra vez
yo este llorando
Yo que pense que te olvide
pero es verdad es la verdad
que te quiero aun mas
mucho mas que ayer
dime tu que puedo hacer
no me quieres ya
y siempre estare
llorando por tu amor
llorando por tu amor
tu amor
se llevo
todo mi corazon
y quedo llorando
llorando
llorando
llorando
llorando
llorando
por tu amor
I was alright for a while
I could smile for a while
but I saw you last night
you held my hand so tight
as you stopped to say hello
you wished me well
you couldn’t tell
that I’ve been crying over you
crying over you
and you said so long
left me standing all alone
alone and crying crying crying crying
it’s hard to understand
but the touch of your hand
can start me crying
I thought that I was over you
but it’s true so true
I love you even more than I did before
but darling what can I do
for you don’t love me
and I’ll always be crying over you
crying over you
yes now you’re gone
and from this moment on
I’ll be crying
crying
crying
crying
crying
crying
over you.
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