Tag Archives: connie francis

67) Connie Francis – “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You”

While researching this entry, I was surprised to learn that Connie Francis had the most successful chart run of any female solo singer of the 1960s.  Over the 40 years since the decade ended, collective cultural rewriting of the ‘60s has caused it to become associated with singers like Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, and Grace Slick – but all three of those spent most of the ‘60s in groups, and only Ross had any real pop chart success.  Still, successful solo artists Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield all spring to mind as more representative of the period’s pop landscape.  Yet it was Connie Francis who had three Hot 100 #1’s.  So why has her chart impact become diminished in retrospect? For one, her three most iconic hits (“Who’s Sorry Now,” “Stupid Cupid” and “Where the Boys Are”) are not the three that topped the charts (“Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own” and “Don’t Break the Heart the Loves You”).  But what probably played a larger part was timing: her final #1, “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You,” hit in 1962, before the pop cultural megalith of “the ‘60s,” as it has been redefined and recast, actually began.  (Which, for someone who wasn’t alive during the decade, doesn’t really start until The Beatles invade America.)

Further, Francis’s singles often owed more to the Great American Songbook than to contemporaneous pop and rock and roll.  Her first success, “Who’s Sorry Now?,” was a cover of song first published in 1923.  And the more singles she released, the more her records grew indebted to pre-rock sounds.  The rockabilly-lite kick of early hits like “Fallin’” and “Lipstick on Your Collar” was almost completely absent by the ‘60s, replaced by smooth strings and echo chamber production.  Now Francis just needed an original hit that would become every bit the classic that “Who’s Sorry Now?” had been when she recorded her version of it.  Therefore, she hired Benny Davis and Ted Murry, two former Tin Pan Alley songwriters whose greatest successes dated from decades earlier.  The result was “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You,” a record that finds Francis’s voice in typically lovely form, but in a style that already feels a few years out of date.  The slick countryish pop of Connie Francis and Brenda Lee was being replaced on the pop charts by urban girl groups and brighter, punchier arrangements.  It doesn’t help that “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You” lacks personality – it’s pretty much the standard pop-country ballad ca. 1958, complete with requisite woozy spoken word bit.

The single that replaced Francis atop the Hot 100, also by a solo female singer, is clearly inferior, but the outmoded details of “Don’t Break the Heart” – and Connie Francis herself – stand out in stark contrast.  In her mere four years as a chart presence, Francis had a steady run of quality singles, and she would continue to have great singles afterward (1964’s “Don’t Ever Leave Me,” in which she adopts the girl group sound that had displaced her, is a particular highlight). Connie hadn’t changed, but the pop charts had moved on. The ‘60s would continue – or start – without her. 6

Hit #1 on March 31, 1962; total of 1 week at #1
67 of 970 #1’s reviewed; 6.91% through the Hot 100

1 Comment

Filed under 06, 1962

36) Connie Francis – “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own”

 Unfortunately, most of Connie Francis’s best songs never topped the Hot 100.  Sure, “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” was cute, but I’d much rather write about “Who’s Sorry Now?” or “Stupid Cupid.”  “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own” is a solid chart entry, but there’s not much really memorable about it.  It’s a slow, faux-country mope, so thick and sticky that it feels like a hot, humid evening in August.  Connie’s double-tracked vocal, the drums, the instruments, are all so heavy that it’s almost oppressive.  The production matches the lyrics – Francis yearning to leave a relationship but unable to break away – but it also makes the song lack the pep of her previous chart-topping rumination on the cruelty of love.  While Francis is inarguably one of the great female singers of the rock and roll era, her voice’s naturally languid quality is the main element weighing the song down.  Perhaps Brenda Lee’s would have been a better choice.  Lee’s clear, strong voice could could slice through the haze, with her permanent sob adding the missing emotional note.  Still, the right singer can only do so much to improve a merely passable song. 5

Hit #1 on September 26, 1960; total of 2 weeks at #1
36 of 964 #1’s reviewed; 3.73% through the Hot 100

1 Comment

Filed under 05, 1960

30) Connie Francis – “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”

The Everlys may moan about being someone’s clown, but along comes Connie to argue “So what? So’s everyone else.”  “The tears I cried for you could fill an ocean/ But you don’t care how many tears I’ve cried” paraphrases the “When you see me share a tear” verse of “Cathy’s Clown,” but the bouncy melody makes the lyrics sound like a big shrug.  Francis’s song doesn’t have the emotional heft of the Everly Brothers’ song, or of her own 1958 hit “Who’s Sorry Now,” but it’s a cute pseudocountry trifle.   In lesser hands, it could be shrill or precious, but Francis’s warm, clear voice has just the right air of self-depricating ruefulness.  Aside from Francis, the most interesting part of the song is the Wurlitzer (?) organ on the intro and outro.  It hints at the carnivalish nature of love: some rides make you queasy, some are fun but end too soon, but there are always plenty to go around, and at the end of the night you can’t wait to do it all over again.  6

Hit #1 on June 27, 1960; total of 2 weeks at #1
30 of 964 #1’s reviewed; 3.11% through the Hot 100

1 Comment

Filed under 06, 1960