Saturday, November 24, 2018

I Who Have Nothing (listen to this)

If you grew up after the 1960's and '70s, the idea of a song being a hit--rather than the band or performer--is a strange concept. But back then, as well as the fame of being a major star, there was often a scramble to cover a song that someone-else had been successful with. The same song was recorded and sung by many performers, each giving their own interpretation. Singers like Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley were not composers or considered to be songwriters (though Sinatra had the occasional writing credit)--rather, they worked with composers and lyricists, chose the songs they liked best, and made them their own.

Songs like My Way (made most famous by Frank Sinatra, lyrics by Paul Anka, also recorded by Elvis Presley... set to the music of a French song Comme d'Habitude which was a hit for Claude Francois). Songs like those written by Randy Newman, which were covered by Gene Pitney--a wonderful singer-songwriter who wrote songs for others such as Roy Orbison and The Crystals, while himself recording songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David as well as Randy Newman). Popular TV variety shows would showcase many, many cover versions by performers who were very well known.

As a kid, it was never obvious which song "belonged" to which singer. One song that I adored though was "I Who Have Nothing. An English-language version of the Italian "Uno Dei Tanti" (direct translation: One Of Many), music by Carlo  Donida, lyrics by Guilio Rapetti, with the English words written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. The first English-language version was recorded by the American Ben E King (The Drifters), but was better known in the UK through cover versions by Tom Jones and--the one that has always been my go-to version--Shirley Bassey. The name of the song and the name Shirley Bassey are inseparable in my memory... despite so many, many other cover versions.

Ben E King, Tom Jones, Joe Cocker. Neil Diamond.
Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway
Liza Minelli, Donny Osmond.
It's often heard on TV talent shows, to greater or lesser success.
Sylvester released a disco version (really, really don't go there)

Definitely... Shirley Bassey's was my lifelong favourite version, of a lovely, lovely song. That is, until I heard this. This version, by Bloodshake Chorus.

Find out more about Bloodshake Chorus on their Facebook. Read an earlier review from a Bloodshake Chorus show in Cromer, Norfolk, here. Try to see their live show: roadtrip is worth it!!!

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