Wednesday, September 14, 2016
SHG: Della Reese: "Don't You Know?"
Della Reese: “Don’t You Know”
Entered the chart on: 10/5/1959
Peaked on: 11/30/1959
Weeks at #2: 1
Song at #1: “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin
And we end the 50s as we began it: with a song I’ve never heard before.
I know Della of course, but as an actress, not a singer. She was part of my childhood, appearing on the now-rarely-seen Chico and the Man and guest-starring frequently on Sanford and Son, not to mention a ton of other TV shows.
Reading up on this tune has been interesting to say the least. Adapted from an aria from Puccini’s La bohème, you say? I’m intrigued! That would make this the first pop music adaptation of a classical piece to appear on this feature. I thought I would need to wait for a certain tune from the mid-60s for that! Oh, you’ll see!
Whoa! That’s the most forceful orchestration I’ve heard on this feature in a while! I know “There Goes My Baby” has a string orchestration, too, but this string section doesn’t f$&% around! The single crows “A Hugo & Luigi Production,” so I guess they’re responsible for the screaming strings, bombastic brass and pounding tympani. There’s nothing subtle about this.
In all, this is a throwback to the pre-rock sound from before. It really sits oddly among all those rock & roll records, I have to say. And her voice is powerful—damn, it would just about have to be to compete with that blaring orchestra—but it certainly has nothing to do with rock or R&B. Her voice is loaded with melodrama, and reminds me of divas from across the pond like Shirley Bassey and Dorothy Squires. I can understand this being a hit over in the UK more than here.
That said, you really have to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into this, Della’s singing ability, and the power of her voice. Majestic is the word for this one.