Julie London was an American nightclub, jazz and pop singer, film and television actress and a former pinup model, born on 26 September 1926.
I had heard a couple of her other records, including an amazing version of Blue Moon, but it was this record which made me stop in my tracks.
Her delivery of the song makes you feel she’s singing at you, making you feel for her predicament even more.
Never possessing a powerful voice in comparison to her contemporaries, she used what she had to great advantage. In an interview in 1957 when she was on the cover of LIFE magazine she said, “It’s only a thimbleful of a voice, and I have to use it close to the microphone. But it is a kind of oversmoked voice, and it automatically sounds intimate.”
For me its that almost frail quality of her voice that really draws me into the song and makes me believe that she’s a woman on the edge.
The song was written by Edward C. Redding and was also sung by Billie Holiday. I’ve listened to both and I prefer Julie’s version.
With her husky, dusky, sexy voice Julie sang of the end of a love affair. The song tells of her trying to pretend she’s not bothered that her love affair is over by over acting and generally being a bad ass. Only her voice betray’s that inside she’s a broken women.
The song starts with sweeping strings before the vocal comes in. The smooth, sultry scene is set for the song to begin.
“So I walk a little too fast and I drive a little too fast
And I’m reckless it’s true, but what else can you do at the
End of a love affair?”
The opening line and the nonchalant way she sings it is the hook. ‘What else do you expect me to do?’ she’s asking, as if suggesting people think she should be a broken women lying weeping in a corner.
“So I talk a little too much, and I laugh a little too much
And my voice is too loud, when I’m out in a crowd
So that people are apt to stare.”
Ah yes! overcompensating when you are out of your depth, trying too hard to be funny and entertaining, determined to be the life and soul of the party. Sound familiar?
“Do they know, do they care, that it’s only that I’m lonely
And low as can be? And the smile on my face isn’t really a smile at all.”
Here, it’s as if she’s saying, ‘You haven’t got a clue how I’m feeling but would you give a toss if you did?’ So she’s pretending to have a good time to hide the hurt. How many times have you done this. Smiling on the outside but dying on the inside; Tony Soprano described it perfectly as being a ‘sad clown’.
“So I smoke a little too much, and I drink a little too much
And the tunes I request are not always the best
But the ones where the trumpets blare!”
For some reason this makes me think of her sitting in a bar, on her fifth double gin and tonic, cigarette in hand as she chooses really loud music from a jukebox much to the annoyance of those around her.
“So I go at a maddening pace, and I pretend that it’s taking
Your place, but what else can you do, at the end of a love affair?”
What else indeed? Throw yourself under a bus or throw yourself into life and hope that some of the pretence becomes reality?
It’s the richness of her voice, the perfect diction and the general sexy tone that draws me in. I’d love to spend an afternoon talking to her, drinking Vodka Martini and letting her tell me all her troubles. I doubt I’d leave sober, but I’d be very happy.
Julie London was a stunning looking woman with a voice that could melt your heart. If it really was the end of a love affair for her I doubt she’d be on her own for long!