Still in the process of bringing a few of the series from the old blog over to these new digs, and while I’m not sure “The Fantastic 45s” will become a monthly staple anymore (likely to be replaced on the monthly clock by “Confessions of a ’90s Survivor”), that doesn’t mean the celebration of 7-inchers (minds out of the gutters, please) should be abandoned either.
I recently stumbled across this 45, and grabbed it because I knew and loved the A-side, but had absolutely no idea who the hell Guy Mitchell was, let alone that he drove this song to the top of the charts at the end of 1956 for a 9-week run. Crikey, that’s almost two months!
My introduction to “Singing the Blues” came many moons ago when I acquired a copy of Paul McCartney’s MTV Unplugged album, where he closed the set with a spirited rendition of this tune (dig the fab whistling interlude).
But the song was written many years prior by Melvin Endsley and also enjoyed popularity in versions from Tommy Steele and Marty Robbins. In fact, a lot of purists detested the spin Mitchell put on the song, saying the fluffy pop backing compromised the classic country feel that Robbins was able to give the song. You know, like how *NSYNC totally cut the “real” legs out of from Alabama with their version of “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You.” Or maybe not at all like that. Because that song sucks no matter who’s doing it. And “Singing the Blues” is fabulous.
Turns out Detroit-native Mitchell, who was actually born Albert Cernik, found his way into singing in the 1940s, but failed to make a big splash anywhere until Columbia Records executive Mitch Miller took notice of Al around 1950. Taking to heart the importance of a name that lights up a marquee (or maybe just really not fond of Croatian surnames), Miller insisted Guy change his name. The popular story of the how Albert Cernik transforms to Guy Mitchell goes as such: Miller tells Cernik,”My name is ‘Mitchell’ and you seem a nice ‘guy’, so we’ll call you Guy Mitchell.” I haven’t been able to verify that Cernik punched Miller right in the face after he said that, but I still believe it had to have happened.
Nevertheless, Mitchell found success in the charts and (as many of stars of the time did) movies, although the fact that he sounded like so many other stars of the time (read: Elvis Presley) probably doomed his staying power and quickly got him lost in the mix. Which is why when I saw this 45, I asked out loud to no one in particular: “Who the f*ck is Guy Mitchell?”
Well, now I know he had at least one good single to his name.
The Fantastic 45s
“Singing the Blues” b/w “Crazy With Love”
Guy Mitchell – Singing the Blues
Resist the urge at all costs to stop the song immediately upon hearing the questionable whistle/vocal bass intro, because the fact is this song is actually pretty great if you just let it keep playing. Sure, it’s simple and the “aw, shucks”-ness of it all is almost painful, but keep listening and be awed at how insanely catchy this song is and how it stays stuck in your head for hours after listening. Mitchell’s delivery is great, even if the last “Well!” is a bit overexcited, and since I first heard Macca’s version many moons ago, I’ve always thought the “Why shouldn’t I go? ‘Cause I couldn’t stay without you…” line was just brilliant.
Guy Mitchell – Crazy With Love
Not to be confused with the similarly titled Beyonce song from a few years ago, but this song could easily be confused with any number of early Elvis hits like “Teddy Bear” or “All Shook Up.” Guy remains enthusiastic about throwing a “Well!” or forty into the song, and the “Hey sugar! Come ‘ere sweetie! You’re my baby!” intro is also kind of off kilter, but like “Singing the Blues” (albeit to a far lesser extent) this song still carries a hell of a lot of charm. Lyrics are pretty weak, though. Comparing “just gotta have you for me” to fish in the sea and birdie in the tree. I mean neither of those are exclusive relationships, are they? There’s more than one fish in the sea and there are more than one bird in the tree (and I know because they’re all taking dumps on my car parked underneath), so the “you for me” thing doesn’t really work. Unless it’s polygamous. He also refers to his heart spinning. Do hearts spin? I know heads spin. Ah well. Still a good B-side.
Both cuts can now be found on 16 Most Requested Songs.