Miss Connie Francis
I hope the new week finds you well.
The song I have for you today recently fell through the old ear-slot in a rather unusual manner.
Over the course of a few days – always in another room – I heard the strains of a very interesting song playing in a TV commercial, never enough to provide any solid info, but just enough to tickle the pleasure centers of the brain.
So, the third time I yell to my lovely wife – who happened to be actually watching the TV – and asked what the commercial was for.
“Target” she replied.
“Target, eh?” says me to my own self, all the while tapping characters into a search engine already idling at the curb.
My intial forays onto the intertubes were for naught, but then I actually saw the commercial myself, picked up enough of the lyrics to flesh out the search and before long I find out that the singer of said song was none other than Connie Francis.
Yes, teen queen Connie Francis, of the ‘Stupid Cupid’ and ‘Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool’ and ‘Who’s Sorry Now’, the only song of hers known to catch my ear, and only then because it’s playing in the background as Babs Jansen betrays Mandy Pepperidge to Greg Marmalard, who then leaves to administer a beating to Eric Stratton (you’ve seen Animal House, right?).
I mean, to be honest, the pop-end of the early “rock” scene never had a lot of appeal to me, with Connie Francis (among others) lodged in my brain as the soundtrack to a generation that was still scuffing their saddle shoes a few years before I was born.
Now, I realize that there’s a lot of groovy stuff out there that I haven’t explored in depth (for good reason), so spare me your lectures about “high school pop”, “teeners” or whatever sub-genre record collectors are jet-puffing up this week like so many marshmallows.
That said, I am able to recognize when the folks extruding product from the pop factories of the day accidentally struck gold, and this is one of those instances.
Miss Francis was an undeniably gifted singer, and she had a decade long run on the charts before the evolution of pop music and the cruelty of life interfered and pushed her off the rails.
When she recorded ‘Fallin’’ in 1958, she had already hit with ‘Who’s Sorry Now’ and ‘Stupid Cupid’.
‘Fallin’, which was written by Neil Sedaka* and Howard Greenfield has the sound not of a New Jersey heart-on-her-sleeve balladeer, but rather something closer to Wanda Jackson (who would record the song – not nearly as well – later that same year).
The song is driven by a deep, twangy, reverbed guitar, sounding like some hopped up greaser got lost on his way to Memphis and thought he might be able to pick up a couple of dollars in a New York studio.
Francis herself was never sexier, purring and yelping like a hillbilly out for a night of sin.
Naturally, despite hitting in some regional markets, ‘Fallin’’ wasn’t remotely as successful as her first two hits, peaking in the Fall of 1958. She wouldn’t hit big again until the spring of the following year with ‘Lipstick On Your Collar’. It was however a Top 20 hit in the UK.
It’s a very cool record, and I hope you dig it.
I’ll see you all next week.