Varied Versions: “Cry Me a River”

This is kind of a new venture, but I hope you enjoy it. I want to take the many difference versions of classic songs by various artists and see what I like in each, as well as hopefully inspire some participation on the reader’s behalf to tell me which one they like best as well.

Today’s song is “Cry Me a River.” The song was written by a man named Arthur Hamilton and intended for Ella Fitzgerald in the movie Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955). However, it was dropped from the final product. Julie London is the artist who made it a hit in 1955 and was aided by an outstanding performance of the song in a movie called A Girl Can’t Help It(1956). Ella went on to have  a hit with the song in 1961 as well. Additionally, since then the song has been covered by hundreds of artists. the most popular to date are the two mentioned above, blues/rocker Joe Cocker’s 1970 version, as well as the recent Michael Buble version from 2009, which became theme music for the 2010 Winter Olympic games in Vancouver, Canada.

She has this beautiful smokey tone to her voice. Her style is very technical and precise. The song itself lends very easily to an artists passionate artistic freedoms. I love the slow and seemingly droning pace of the song. As a listener, you expect it to go somewhere, build momentum, but it doesn’t. It leaves you wanting.

Ella’s passion and emotive capabilities prove superior to London. I am much more of a soul fan, than the traditional singer’s technique. Thus, I am partial to Mrs. Fitzgerald. The tempo of the song pushes the song into a new dynamic, differing from that of London. Plus, you get a taste of that momentum swing I was waiting for in London’s piece.

Back to my girl, Dinah! The dissonance of the strings to open are fabulous! You can feel the tension, and you can feel is break. She brings the sultry tone and technique of London, but the soulfully emotive talents of Fitzgerald. We get the best of both worlds. So what if I am biased! Am I wrong?… Am I wrong?

Now, the revitalization of the song by a rocking blues man is refreshing, but somewhat offsetting juxtaposed with the others we have listened to. It sure sounds like a blast to jam to though, doesn’t it?! Joe is an energetic character and he embodies a great face of the song that I didn’t know existed. I can dig it though.

Then, we have Buble. the horn opening is great! Then we have the staccato strings solely leading him into and through the first verse. The arrangement of this version is stellar! The best of all of the others, however they had a few years on everybody else to perfect everything. he brings the emotion that I enjoyed from Ella and Dinah. I do feel like it is a Bond theme song though. Is that bad? I can’t tell. Thought?

The content of the song is captivating regardless of the singer, but I enjoy seeing artists take songs with such potential and make them their own. Every artist has their own lens they see the world through and I love to peer through various artists’ lens’ at the same object to see what differences there are. I hope this proved a fun little blog and musical exercise. Let me know your thoughts on which version is your favorite.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by UA Tweets, Tyler Quillin. Tyler Quillin said: Varied Versions: "Cry Me a River": […]

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