78) The Four Seasons – “Sherry”

First, you must embrace the falsetto.  Don’t worry about how Frankie Valli’s voice could get so high.  Don’t wonder why such a sound would even be desirable.  Like the shrill keening of Chinese opera or the yodeling of the Swiss Alps, it is a vocal artifact of a foreign culture.   If you are to enjoy the music, you must accept that tastes differ across time and space.  If you are naturally inclined to appreciate these sounds, well, all the better.

Now that you’ve surmounted that hurdle, it’s on to the music itself.  The Four Seasons’ sound derived from doo wop but was driven by rock and roll.  Like Dion before them, The Four Seasons recognized that doo wop was becoming passé, and evolving was the way to stay relevant.  But unlike the jazzy flourishes in “Runaround Sue,” “the group’s singles of this era (including “Sherry”) appeal more directly to the teenage fan.  If one were feeling hyperbolic, it could even be said that The Four Seasons paved the way for The Beatles – rock and roll filtered through tight multi-part harmonies and polished production.  Frankie Valli & co. haven’t aged as well as the Fab Four, though.  The Beatles did have a few advantages that The Four Seasons lacked: a persistent need to experiment and evolve, a seemingly bottomless reserve of creativity, and (ca. 1967 aside) a disregard for effects that would instantly date the record.  When Paul McCartney deployed falsetto, it was more Little Richard’s flamboyant hysterics than Frankie Valli’s preternatural shriek.

But don’t let negative comparisons with The Beatles dissuade you.  One source claims that The Four Seasons were the most successful white pop group before The Beatles, and it’s not too hard to believe it. “Sherry” is similar enough to contemporaneous pop that it isn’t out of place, yet it doesn’t quite sound like anything else at the time either.  While the group’s song catalogue would become increasingly dominated by formula, the Four Seasons’ first charting single is a fresh burst of energy in the increasingly lethargic pop charts.  At least if you can accept the falsetto. 7

Hit #1 on September 15, 1962; total of 5 weeks at #1
78 of 975 #1’s reviewed; 8.00% through the Hot 100

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3 Comments

Filed under 07, 1962

3 responses to “78) The Four Seasons – “Sherry”

  1. Eddie George

    In an earlier comment regarding the song ” If you want
    to be happy “, I referred to a ” Beauty Queen ” that I
    had previously dated;
    Guess what…….
    Her name was SHERRY !

    1963.. What a crazy , wonderful year.

    As an interesting side-bar ( to me anyway ), many
    years, and a couple of marriages later, Sherry moved
    from her humble home in Tennessee to marry a fellow
    from of all places, NEW JERSEY.

    The last time I talked to her, she told me that she had
    seen ” Jersey Boys ” on broadway.

  2. GeorgeL

    To this day I still cannot stand this song! I thought the 4 Seasons got better in the mid-60s when they started doing more blue eye soul/Motownish stuff (Let’s Hang On; Opus 17: Beggin; Tell it To the Rain; Come on Marianne). And an interesting bit of trivia – on their late 60’s “progressive” album they did a song called “Raven” which was about interracial romance.

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