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The Number Twos: Connie Francis – “My Happiness”

10 Jan

We enter the year of 1959. The first #2 single was a single still relatively well-known today, the second a band relatively well-known today. Our third is a pre-Beatles superstar who I doubt all by the biggest music fans of the era under 60 recognize or could possibly name a song by.

Connie Francis had 14 Hot 100 era top 10s, including two #1s. Growing up Italian in Newark, New Jersey, she also became fluent in Yiddish growing up in a Jewish area. She tried her hand as a recording artist in the mid-50s without success and was considering a scholarship to NYU when she finally broke through. She was a big star from 1957-1962, slotting in nicely in the first period of the Hot 100.

“My Happiness” is a pop standard dating back to the mid-19th century. The most famous version to date had been published in 1948, with lyrics by Betty Peterson Blanco. Francis’s version hit #2 on January 19, 1959.

The Jon and Sondra Steele rendition of “My Happiness” had been Francis’ favorite song when she was 8, and she cut the track in November 1958 at age 20.

A sad, slowed down, ballad of longing, “My Happiness” begins with Francis’s voice followed by a light, casual drumbeat. The song enjoys the backing of an orchestra which goes somewhat underused but pipe in after each line of each verse, most notably with trumpet. The titular happiness is her love, who she longs to be with over four verses and one non-verse (I’m not sure if it’s technically a chorus or a bridge, or if these terms even make sense with this song structure).

The percussions really buildings into that chorus, which, following the first two verses, is the dramatic peak of the song, where Francis’s longing is felt at its strongest, letting her show off her vocal chops on “But I’ll hold you again / There’ll be no blue memories then” before she descends to the final two verses, which display a relative lack of intensity.

Rating: 6

I was prepared to issue a lower rating; the song isn’t particularly exciting and passion-stirring in any facet, lyrically, or musically, or vocally, but after listening to it several times in a row and finding I actually liked it more and not less, I decided to bump it up a little. It’s hardly a great, but the whole, with the light orchestration, the sweet vocals, the simple lyrics, is greater than the sum of its parts.

What was #1? The Platters – “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”

Was #2 better than #1? Yes.

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