Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Spanish Harlem" - Demo (1960)


This recording of “Spanish Harlem” has just become my favorite version among the scores that have been recorded. And that includes the iconic version by Ben E. King. Why? Because it’s so bare and simple. With no marimbas or percussion, Jerry Leiber’s vocals (that’s him singing) really leap out and the beauty of the words is so much more apparent.

And the guitar playing, by Phil Spector, is a very pleasant surprise. He’s nuanced in his approach, in much the same way as Mr. Leiber is with his vocals. Mike Stoller apparently produced the session. Phil Spector and Jerry Leiber are the accredited songwriters.

Here are the lyrics- seeing them written down reinforces their beauty. And below that is a link to the Ben E. King version in its finished form. You be the judge.

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is a special one, it's never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It's growing in the street right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreamin'

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
With eyes as black as coal that looks down in my soul
And starts a fire there and then I lose control
I have to beg your pardon
I'm goin' to pick that rose and watch her
As she grows in my garden

I'm goin' to pick that rose and watch her
As she grows in my garden
(There is a rose in Spanish Harlem)
La la la, la la la, la la la la



No comments:

Post a Comment