89) Little Peggy March – “I Will Follow Him”

When browsing through YouTube for the clip above, I came across a live performance of “I Will Follow Him” from 2002.  Peggy March was singing as part as one of those oldies nostalgia revues that air on public television during pledge drives.  Despite having the past 40 years and an entire career defined by this one track, March is an enthusiastic performer.  She’s clearly had vocal lessons in the intervening decades, as she sings with an assured, polished voice quite unlike the one that graced the original recording.  Of course, it’s difficult – and rarely desirable – to retain the same vocal qualities you had when you were 15 (although Brenda Lee managed it).  Nevertheless, I still felt a vague sense of disappointment.  March had traded her distinctive voice for one that was generic, albeit ostensibly better.

I only remark on March’s voice because it is one of the two great things about the original recording of “I Will Follow Him.”  Although she had an innate sense of pitch and melody, her voice hadn’t yet had all the rawness buffed out of it yet.  March, much like Ronnie Spector, has the knack of sounding both vulnerable and assertive – exactly how an adolescent should.  The other terrific aspect of the song is its arrangement.  The music, co-composed by Paul Mauriat and Franck Pourcel, is so absurdly dramatic as to make “He’s a Rebel” look meek and pedestrian. Yet this too matches the spirit of the song.  This is music that can part oceans and knock down mountains, if that’s what it takes for our heroine to reach her destiny.  Subtlety is unheard of and every emotion is cranked up to 11 – which is a lot like how it feels to be a teenager. 7

Hit #1 on April 27, 1963; total of 3 weeks at #1
89 of 976 #1’s reviewed; 9.12% through the Hot 100


Filed under 07, 1963

5 responses to “89) Little Peggy March – “I Will Follow Him”

  1. Hey, better to have an entire career based on one hit than none at all.

  2. I agree! But it must be strange to be an artist who has recorded decades worth of material since she was a teenager, but is only ever asked to play this one song over and over. I’m not sure I would still have her gusto.

  3. You may be right. I’ve spent my entire musical career being cheerfully unfamous, so if the band ever garnered itself a one-hit wonder, I’d consider myself lucky. But if I’d had that one hit while very young, it would have set my expectations a lot higher. So kudos to her for taking it all in stride.

  4. SonOfNeil

    Peggy March had a full and successful career in Germany as a “schlager” singer. Shortly after her one big hit, she left America and landed in Germany. Just for the excitement of it. She still shows up on German TV. That’s why she has the voice she has.

  5. Joshua K.

    For some amusement, play this song, then immediately afterward play “Everybody Wants You” by Billy Squier. They’re more similar than one might think.

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