SONG: Crying in the Chapel
ARTIST: The Orioles
Listen to it here:
Crying in the Chapel was written as a country song by Artie Glenn in 1953 for his son Darrell. Darrell recorded it in that same year but at first did not gain a lot of traction in his recording. It eventually became one of the most covered songs of that year, covered famously by the Orioles, Ella Fitzgerald, and eventually Elvis Presley in 1960. There is also a hard-to-find Bob Marley and the Wailers version of the song renamed Selassie is in the Chapel (for Haile Selassie, the father of Rastafarianism)! It has been covered by such artists such as Don McLean, Johnny Burnett and the Platters.
The Orioles originated in 1947 in Baltimore Maryland and called themselves the vibrant ears. When they scored a record deal they changed their name to the Orioles in honour of Maryland state bird and also in admiration of another popular group called the ravens. After a few minor hits they began to tour a broader area until tragedy struck in 1950 when a car accident claimed the lives of one of their singers. They soon added two new members and a few years later in 1952 had another hit song with baby please don’t go. In 1953 there were a few more lineup changes and in June of that year they recorded the country song Crying in the Chapel. This was their biggest hit keeping the number one spot on the R&B charts for five weeks. It also sold 1 million copies but sadly was their last hit. The group disbanded shortly afterwards.
The Orioles are considered the first R&B group.
Sonny Til, the Orioles’ lead singer briefly joined the Ink Spots in the 1970s.
Man oh Man do I ever love doo-wop. Again it’s gonna be hard for me to review the song objectively because of my love of doo-wop but here we are. This is such a great example of the really smooth, slow jam type of doo-wop song, resplendent with all the typical oohs and aahs of the background singers. Sonny Til had a warm, rounded voice, lacking a lot of the whiny nasal tones of some of the other doo-wop singers of the time. The background singers are for the most part pretty in tune and the backing band makes itself pretty scarce save for the church bell type effects heard throughout the song. This is the type of doo-wop song the type I imagine teenage kids in the 1950s dancing to at the local I don’t know sock hop? Anyway like I already said it’s a great example of not only early doo-wop but all do up and of course I recommend it.
This song has been done well by several people, but this Orioles version is pretty great. The background vocals are solid, the bells in the background aren’t even annoying, and everything is understated, while still conveying the message. It just melds together so well, and that ending! I love it! It’s cheesy, but I like how the chord keeps changing as different singers slide around to different notes in the chord. I think the Orioles did a really underappreciated thing here with this song that could easily sound sad, plodding, and boring and made it instead a really great listen!
Average mark out of 10:
Other notable versions of this song:
The Bob Marley version:
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Link to 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist:
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