slaytonf

Go ahead, cry me a river.

117 posts in this topic

TCMmers are treated this month to Dina Washington's rendition of Cry Me a River playing over the January promo montage.  I don't want to turn this into an academic exercise, but I thought I'd bring to people's attention a couple of versions of this wonderful torch song that expresses the aching heart as good as any.  Ms. Washington's performance hits like a ton of bricks, but I have to admit, Julie London does it just that much better.  It's not by chance this was her signature song.  For a movie connection, she sings it in The Girl Can't Help It (1956).  Here's the best version I could find on the ol' YT.  It's like her definitive studio recording, with an added live performance dimension:

Other ladies that did a good job include Shirley Bassey (who took her foot off the accelerator pedal for this one), Diana Krall, and Linda Rondstat.  Most of the covers are by women, naturally, but I did find this one by Sam Cooke, which goes over well:

Enjoy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 As they used to say in the 1950s, the best thing about Julie London's albums are the cover.

I'm sure Shirley Bassey sings the song very well because she sings Everything very well.

 

However, my favorite version of Cry Me A River is on Barbra Streisand's first album which is called The Barbra Streisand Album, circa 1963.

You can't miss Cry Me a River because it's the first song on the first side of Barbra Streisand's first album.

If you've never heard the song Cry Me a River, or you think you may have heard it, you haven't heard it until you have heard Barbra sing it.

Click case closed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bet Babs' version is the definitive-she's the greatest.
Personally, I always liked Combustible Edison's version best. (sorry, I can't post a link)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ak7H2Qj8zo

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whose version is the "greatest" IS all a matter of personal opinion though,  and all those posted are nice but,  I never had much to do with the song until I heard THIS version:

Which I guess, should make the OP feel that there was really nothing to complain about in the first place. ;)

Sepiatone

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of great singers have done justice to this song, including Julie London in the first post. But Streisand really soars here, making others seem so earthbound by comparison.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Whose version is the "greatest" IS all a matter of personal opinion though,  and all those posted are nice but,  I never had much to do with the song until I heard THIS version:

Which I guess, should make the OP feel that there was really nothing to complain about in the first place. ;)

Sepiatone

 No , I don't think this is a matter of personal opinion at all. It's a matter of genre and  Who belongs where.

I love Joe Cocker and I love his version and he belongs in Rock or rhythm and blues or whatever but he's not a legitimate American popular singer. So he is in no way in any competition with Barbra Streisand.

There's no point in comparing apples and oranges or apples and pears.

One time I was watching The Three Tenors and they started singing " Singin' in the Rain". It was so awful I had to turn off the TV set.

Reminds me of the time I saw the great ballet dancer Baryshnikov tap dancing on the Liza Minnelli special. He was the greatest ballet dancer of his generation, but his tap dancing was Dreadful.

Now Pavarotti and the other two are really great opera singers, but they couldn't sing a simple American popular movie tune by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. They didn't have the ability and it sounded just awful.  And then a song and dance man like Gene Kelly, who barely has a voice, can sing it perfectly. To be at their most effective most artists have to stay within their own genre.

So it's not just a matter of this is a song and we're all singing it - - it's a matter of what kind of singer you are what's your approach is and how you are going to sing it.

I love Joe Cocker's rendition of the song but he's no competition for Barbra Streisand and she's no competition for him, in his genre either. LOL

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And then there's Justin Timberlake's 2002 version. It won a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

 

 

 

  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, jakeem said:

And then there's Justin Timberlake's 2002 version. It won a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

I believe this is a different song that Timberlake used as his debut single.  This version was co-written by Timbaland.  I believe this was Timberlake's response to the break-up of his relationship with Britney Spears. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, slaytonf said:

but I have to admit, Julie London does it just that much better.  It's not by chance this was her signature song.  For a movie connection, she sings it in The Girl Can't Help It (1956). 

True, true.  Those of us of a later generation only knew Julie London as Nurse McCall on "Emergency!", so the fact that she had an ultry-sultry torch hit came as a surprise to us later on.  

And yes, I would've beaten Fedya and Dargo to the punch, been That Guy, and postedWVtransnistria-11.jpg

except that the joke's already been beaten to death in the news and political cartoons with the whole Trump-Putin thing.  :unsure:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

I believe this is a different song that Timberlake used as his debut single.  This version was co-written by Timbaland.  I believe this was Timberlake's response to the break-up of his relationship with Britney Spears. 

Oops! Sorry.:mellow:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Princess of Tap said:

 No , I don't think this is a matter of personal opinion at all. It's a matter of genre and  Who belongs where.

I love Joe Cocker and I love his version and he belongs in Rock or rhythm and blues or whatever but he's not a legitimate American popular singer. So he is in no way in any competition with Barbra Streisand.

There's no point in comparing apples and oranges or apples and pears.

One time I was watching The Three Tenors and they started singing " Singin' in the Rain". It was so awful I had to turn off the TV set.

Reminds me of the time I saw the great ballet dancer Baryshnikov tap dancing on the Liza Minnelli special. He was the greatest ballet dancer of his generation, but his tap dancing was Dreadful.

Now Pavarotti and the other two are really great opera singers, but they couldn't sing a simple American popular movie tune by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. They didn't have the ability and it sounded just awful.  And then a song and dance man like Gene Kelly, who barely has a voice, can sing it perfectly. To be at their most effective most artists have to stay within their own genre.

So it's not just a matter of this is a song and we're all singing it - - it's a matter of what kind of singer you are what's your approach is and how you are going to sing it.

I love Joe Cocker's rendition of the song but he's no competition for Barbra Streisand and she's no competition for him, in his genre either. LOL

 

And THIS is reminding me of the time, just a few weeks back in fact, of watching and listening to U2's Bono and Coldplay's Chris Martin while on James Corden's The Late Late Show attempting to sing "One For My Baby", which of course is among Frank Sinatra's most memorable canon of songs.

Oooh WEE, were they terrible!

(...hell, I could croon the tune better than them)

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, EricJ said:

True, true.  Those of us on a later generation only new Julie London as Nurse McCall on "Emergency!", so the fact that she had an ultry-sultry torch hit came as a surprise to us later on.  

And yes, I would've beaten Fedya and Dargo to the punch, been That Guy, and postedWVtransnistria-11.jpg

except that the joke's already been beaten to death in the news and political cartoons with the whole Trump-Putin thing.  :unsure:

Now Eric! Are you "Putin" me on here, dude?!

Naaah, I had no inclination at ALL in posting that tired old pun when I first saw slayton's thread here!

Well, not enough to actually post it, anyway.

(...now FEDYA on the other hand.........) ;)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PRINCESS---

Love that you always try to be "diplomatic", but I never indicated I thought there was some kind of competition concerning the song, and I'll stand by my statement.

WHICH version of the song done by WHOMEVER that somebody THINKS and says is the "greatest" DOES make it a matter of personal opinion.

Sepiatone

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, TomJH said:

A lot of great singers have done justice to this song, including Julie London in the first post. But Streisand really soars here, making others seem so earthbound by comparison.

It was a big moment for me when I got this record  because I had only heard people describing how Barbra Streisand sang.

 I had never heard her sing before. People, including the composer Harold Arlen on the back cover, had  so many superlatives about Barbra Streisand  that I  just couldn't believe she was for real.  So I actually bought a record without ever having heard the singer one time!

Cry Me a River was the first song on the first side, so when I put the needle down on the record and listened to the whole thing once,

I couldn't believe what I heard.

This was her first record. She hadn't done Funny Girl or made any movies. She had appeared in a supporting role in a Broadway musical and had been on some television shows. 

My first impression of her just from that first number, "Cry Me a River" ,  was: She's a great actress and that she was going to be a great star,  winning the Oscar one day. And of course without question she had the most extraordinary voice and style I had ever heard.

Great singers have to be  great actresses or actors. It's no mistake that Judy Garland, *Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee and Doris Day have all been nominated for Oscars because you can hear it in their singing. For them, each song is a mini play. That's true for any great singer. You should watch Judy Garland's old TV show and  see how she prepares and  creates each number when she's exclusively on the concert part of the show

*  Sinatra won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for From Here to Eternity and ,of course, Barbra didn't disappoint me. LOL

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

 As they used to say in the 1950s, the best thing about Julie London's albums are the cover.

 

Aw, now that's ungenerous.  Julie London has a fine voice, and she knows how to sing a song.  She may not be in the top echelon along with Ella, Sarah, and Barbara, among others, but she is not much below them.

 

The problem with what people do to this song is put too much energy into it.  That's where most of the covers fail.  It can't take too much being done with it.  Singers have to accommodate themselves to the song, rather than the other way around.  Joe Cocker's cover is a prime example.  He destroys it.  Ms. Streisand turns it into a show tune, not the torchy lament it is.  Not to dis the people who admire her, but what they are appreciating is the Streisand way of singing, which you can get with lots of songs, but she doesn't do justice to this one.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I grew up watching Lola Albright singing on Peter Gunn at Mother's.  She actually made some recordings with Henry Mancini and she is about on the level of Julie London, maybe not quite as polished.  And Richard Dawson's ex wife Diana Dors could sing like that as well.  Very passable and entertaining but not really what I call great singers.

These kind of singers -- you've got to say-- you've had a few drinks you're having a good time, you're not going to be that critical anyway.

 And all three were very traditionally beautiful women.  Until Barbra came along that was part of the criteria for being a saloon singer --you had to have the traditionally beautiful classical looks, unless you were a black  artist singing  jazz or the blues. 

Barbra broke that mold-- she made people listen to her because she had an extraordinary  unique voice with that killer range, so she made people accept her non-traditional beauty because they wanted the whole package. Barbra made it possible for women who were not cookie cutter beautiful to be taken seriously as nightclub singers and in general in Show Business.

Barbra aside-- Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland,  Eydie Gormé,  Dionne Warwick -- and I don't want to count out the men because they could handle it just as well-- Nat King Cole , Tony Bennett ,  Johnny Mathis or Sinatra, just to name four, could easily handle the song on the level that it deserves.

They would do their own version or arrangement, which would fit in with their style and  into their own repertoire.

But Cry Me A River is a song that can stand up and come through with any level of singer and it's acceptable.

Probably this old standard would even hold up  for a rendition by Herman's Hermits. LOL

 

BTW it's *Dinah Washington. She's one of my favorite singers too and undoubtedly she sings the song splendidly.

She was known in her lifetime as the "Queen of the Blues". My favorite Dinah Washington song is Where Are You? A 1937 song by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson.  Dinah had a hit with it in 1962. It was one of the last songs she recorded , as she died the next year.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That reminded me PRINCESS, that some years back some cable channel was showing old tapes of Judy Garland's TV show and one of them had her, Streisand AND Ethel Merman doing a trio of some song( I forget what song).

Man!  I thought my SPEAKERS were gonna blow out! :D That soundman's ears are probably STILL ringing! :o

 

Slayton, I wouldn't say Cocker "destroyed" the song as a good song survives regardless.  He just put out a different "take" on it, as RAY CHARLES often did with old favored tunes too.  That however, DOESN'T mean I'm putting Joe in the same class as Ray  except in their putting their own "spin" on a tune.

Sepiatone

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I kind of agree with slayton on this one- Cry Me A River is a "heartbreak" story song, not an anger song. I just listened to all the clips here and actually turned the Joe Cocker one off halfway through. He sings it like Proud Mary, with energy & anger.

I like the Streisand version since her voice is so emotional and gorgeously smooth while maintaining power. But I have to say, I really do prefer the Julie London & Combustible Edison versions because they don't carry a whit of anger or energy in them-they are more smoldering and resolved.

If you've never been in that situation, you know the feeling of being used and finally saying "enough". Yes, it's a powerful position, but should be tempered with weariness.

And I'm the opposite- I knew Julie London as a great singer & just recently saw her on ME-TV EMERGENCY re-runs. I thought, "Gee, that looks like Julie London" and once I heard her voice thought, "when did she become an actor?" She looked great in the nurse costume!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree with Cocker singing it with "anger".  Energy perhaps.  But Joe sang most of his songs that way.  Look what we got when he DID try to "croon".  "You Are So Beautiful" IS beautiful when it's sung by anyone ELSE.  Even ME.  :huh:

Sepiatone

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

That reminded me PRINCESS, that some years back some cable channel was showing old tapes of Judy Garland's TV show and one of them had her, Streisand AND Ethel Merman doing a trio of some song( I forget what song).

Man!  I thought my SPEAKERS were gonna blow out! :D That soundman's ears are probably STILL ringing! :o

 

Slayton, I wouldn't say Cocker "destroyed" the song as a good song survives regardless.  He just put out a different "take" on it, as RAY CHARLES often did with old favored tunes too.  That however, DOESN'T mean I'm putting Joe in the same class as Ray  except in their putting their own "spin" on a tune.

Sepiatone

No other way to put it. I  saw that show live with Judy,  The merm and Barbara and I was in hog heaven. It was so sweet because she was in rehearsals for Funny Girl and Judy and Ethel were trying to encourage her.

As much as I really appreciate it Ethel's  artistry and enunciation and so forth, I never warmed to her abrasive Style. I think she must have been perfect for the theater, whether they had microphones are not. LOL

But I really have enjoyed my recordings of her Broadway show Gypsy.

The only other person who should have been there with them was Shirley Bassey. When she held that note in Goldfinger, I don't know if it was 28 bars or 32. She was just unbelievable.

My mother's favorite was always Eydie Gormé; She really liked Steve too. She watched them when they were courting on the Steve Allen Tonight Show. The third   singer on the show was Andy Williams and he became my personal favorite.

 I've been really lucky because I saw Andy Williams 3 times and in the same old Kansas City Movie Palace I also saw Steve & Eydie and Sammy Davis jr. I saw Steve on TV all the time and had some of his records, but when you hear him in person --it was just amazing. I never thought he could sing that well; he really was startling.  He sang New York, New York and also had a terrific sense of humor.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

I disagree with Cocker singing it with "anger".  Energy perhaps.  But Joe sang most of his songs that way.  Look what we got when he DID try to "croon".  "You Are So Beautiful" IS beautiful when it's sung by anyone ELSE.  Even ME.  :huh:

Sepiatone

Getting back to Joe, I've got all of these videos of him on my tablet singing You Can Leave Your Hat On. They had Tom Jones singing it in the Full Monty, but I think it was originally sung  by Joe in the movie 9  1/2 Weeks.

And you know I can't get through all this music without mentioning The Beach Boys. I only found out recently that Dennis Wilson was one of the composers of You Are So Beautiful. I used to wonder why he was always singing it at the concerts.  Unfortunately in the end it was about the only thing that he would get up and do because he was so wasted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

Getting back to Joe, I've got all of these videos of him on my tablet singing You Can Leave Your Hat On. They had Tom Jones singing it in the Full Monty, but I think it was originally sung  by Joe in the movie 9  1/2 Weeks.

And you know I can't get through all this music without mentioning The Beach Boys. I only found out recently that Dennis Wilson was one of the composers of You Are So Beautiful. I used to wonder why he was always singing it at the concerts.  Unfortunately in the end it was about the only thing that he would get up and do because he was so wasted.

Actually Princess, "You Can Leave Your Hat On" was originally first sung and recorded by its songwriter Randy Newman on his 1972 album "Sail Away".

(...and considering the story the song is telling, the way Randy sings it in that "creepy" sort'a way of his has always made it my favorite version of it...although Joe's and Tom's versions are pretty good too in my book)

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Aw, now that's ungenerous.  Julie London has a fine voice, and she knows how to sing a song.  She may not be in the top echelon along with Ella, Sarah, and Barbara, among others, but she is not much below them.

 

The problem with what people do to this song is put too much energy into it.  That's where most of the covers fail.  It can't take too much being done with it.  Singers have to accommodate themselves to the song, rather than the other way around.  Joe Cocker's cover is a prime example.  He destroys it.  Ms. Streisand turns it into a show tune, not the torchy lament it is.  Not to dis the people who admire her, but what they are appreciating is the Streisand way of singing, which you can get with lots of songs, but she doesn't do justice to this one.

I'm glad you said this,  because frankly I didn't have the guts. (ha ha).    You're 100% on target with 'put too much energy into it' and 'singers have to accommodate themselves to the song, rather than the other way around'.

I assume most people like certain singers and seek out their work.   Instead I fall for songs and a song's structure and 'vibe' and then seek out singers that interpret this in a way that really gels with those.   There is still room for the singers \ band to 'make a song their own' but still stay within that structure and vibe. 

 

      

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry, but what I've always loved about cover songs done my Joe Cocker was that he DID always put his own unique and distinct spin on the songs.

I mean, how many times have you heard a cover later done my another artist and say to yourself, "Why did they bother? Their version really adds nothing new to the song, other than them singing it."

(...and besides, because I've always loved the sounds of h o n k y tonk piano, that intro to his version of CMAR grabs me from the first few notes each and every time I hear it come on the radio)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Sorry, but what I've always loved about cover songs done my Joe Cocker was that he DID always put his own unique and distinct spin on the songs.

Cocker's style wasn't easy to imitate, but it could be done: 

 

  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us