Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"The Little Cloud that Cried" - Johnny Ray (1958)

This artist is new to me. Ran across his name in a book I was reading, and as is my wont, I went to You Tube to check out his act. I wondered what the earpiece was all about because this video precedes the days of headsets and the other devices attendant to a modern performance. Now I was hooked.

Turns out that Johnny Ray wore a hearing aid! It was now time to hit Wikipedia; always a good place to start before going on to books and interviews. 

John Alvin Ray was one of the more complex American singers and songwriters of the 1950’s. He achieved early success here in America but by the 1960’s his star had faded. He did, however enjoy a long and successful career in Europe; especially in England; and performed overseas until the year before his death in 1990.

Born in 1927 he lived on a farm with his parents. At age 13 he was hurt in a blanket toss during a Boy Scout outing. That injury cost him the hearing in his left ear. By 1958 he was just about completely deaf, but kept performing. He appeared with Ethel Merman in the movie “There's No Business Like Show Business” in 1954 with Dan Dailey, Donald O'Connor, and Marilyn Monroe.

By the time he made that film he was drinking heavily and also had been arrested twice for soliciting sex with other men. The first arrest was in Detroit at a burlesque house; he paid a fine quietly and the story was largely unreported at the time. After a second arrest; also in Detroit; he went to trial and was found not guilty. Surprisingly these arrests did little to hurt his career; although it must be noted that Liberace was a huge hit at the time and the public was not really on a witch hunt against homosexuals.

In many ways Johnny Ray was considered an early harbinger of the rock and roll sound, singing songs with pop lyrics. Tony Bennett has referred to him as the true father of rock and roll. Not sure I would agree with that, but he was a major component of the changes taking place in music at the time. He was kind of like Bobby Darin in some ways. His influences seem to have been Kay Starr, LaVern Baker and Ivory Joe Hunter. His hit single “Cry” was an influence to an up and coming Elvis Presley and he had the girls screaming several years before Elvis did. The King even took some of his lesser known moves from Mr. Ray.

By 1952 he was a major star in America; within the next year he was playing to sold out crowds in England and Australia. Sometimes when he sang he cried; which only served to endear him even more to the audiences. But by 1960 his American label dropped him and his star faded at home. But his recordings; both new and old; never stopped selling outside of the United States.

For more about this artist; including his marriage to Marilyn Morrison; the daughter of the Mocambo nightclub owner; check out this Wikipedia article. And for even more about his unusual career the following link to a blog called The Hound Dog will be very informative.


See the portraits of these two men? Now see the difference in the way some people view them while claiming that race is not an issue in their assessment. If that were true then the only other explanation would be a lack of honesty on the part of the people making that claim; or else just a willingness to spout what they have heard from their favorite talking heads on the television and radio.

President Obama stated several weeks ago that he had no strategy for the problems in the Mideast with the group known alternately as ISIS/ISIL; pick your poison, they’re both the same to me. At any rate, a firestorm of protest was unleashed by the Right; "how can he say that?" " We need a man like Bush. He would have done something!"

Well, as demonstrated by the current mess we find ourselves in, he would have done something too quickly and ultimately it would have been the wrong thing. So, the Right is critical of a President who thinks before committing American lives and money to a decision. That’s a terrible thing…

Now; and this is in advance of the speech that the President will be making this evening about his strategy on the issue of ISIS/ISIL, pick your poison they’re both the same to me; they are already all over talk radio with the following reactions to what has not happened yet. Appropriately I have chosen to respond in advance to their pre-responses. It’s what I do. Here goes;

If the president takes a strong view against ISIS/ISIL; pick you poison they’re both the same to me; he will be viewed as having been indecisive for not having had an initial strategy.

This will make him suspect in the eyes of the American people.

It will provide comfort to the enemy who realize that he does not react quickly enough to situations, as did President Bush.

Now, remember, this is what they will say if they agree with him! I won’t even bother with what will be said if he is soft on the issue and they dis-agree!

So, in answer to the pre-analysis of what hasn't happened yet, since this is obviously the “party line” which Conservatives will be running with anyway, we say the following;

President Obama took the time- just a few weeks- to figure out a strategy for doing something which may affect us for decades to come. President Bush, on the other hand, did not. He was reckless and We, the People, are still paying the price for it.

It will make me less suspect of the President. Just knowing that he is not striving to get a quick knee-jerk reaction from me; in the way that the War in Iraq was sold to the American people; will be comforting. The knowledge that someone is not being reckless at the top of our government; where they never pay the price for wrong decisions; will be refreshing to most. It smacks of deliberate and considered leadership.

It will discomfort the enemy to know that we will be thinking before we act. This will have the opposite effect of empowering the enemy; sometimes with money and weapons; as was the case under Ronald Reagan with the Taliban who gave us Osama Bin Laden courtesy of our own tax dollars.

Well, that’s my “pre-editorial wrap up” for the speech tonight. The speech won’t contain any surprises. It will probably be an outline of what we are going to do as a coalition with other nations. Not sure if I care for coalitions anymore. We seem to do most of the paying and heavy lifting, but it’s probably better than thumbing your nose at the whole world. We shall see. But those are my predictions for the Conservative “take” on the speech, based upon what I am hearing on talk radio this afternoon about what hasn't happened yet.  

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