Cry Cry Darlin' - Leslie Mendelson

from the album Love & Murder (2017)

I tend to pay considerable attention to the cover songs that dedicated singer-songwriters choose to record.  Aside from being students of their craft, songwriters are often musicologists of the first order.  As such, their selections not only highlight excellence and artistry in writing, but also offer a divining rod for listeners looking to unearth the roots of great modern music.

Leslie Mendelson is a wondrously talented, Grammy-nominated, singer-songwriter from Long Island.  On her new album, Love & Murder, she decided to augment her own compositions with renditions of three classic song's: Bob Dylan's Just Like A Woman, Roy Orbison's Blue Bayou, and Jimmy C. Newman's Cry Cry Darlin'.

Of these, Cry Cry Darlin' has captured my fascination.  The song is wonderfully written in a style that might remind you of one of Jimmy C. Newman's contemporaries, Hank Williams, in the way it employs 7th chords along with a slow, methodic tempo.  The lyrics ring honest and true.  It is no wonder why great artists, including Bill Monroe and Dolly Parton, have been covering this song for decades.

Leslie Mendelson's version stands out for the way its sweet country piano and acoustic guitar complement her exquisite vocals.  The lack of instrumental ornamentation really puts the focus on the song and the vocal.  I am enamored with beautiful simplicity of the songwriting, and get chills from the soft-but-rhapsy vibrato she employs while reaching for the high notes.

This recording has also given me a chance to discover the art of Jimmy C. Newman.  Known as "The Alligator Man", Jimmy rose from cajun roots to become a legend of the Grand Ole Opry in the mid-1950s.  He offers a musical bridge between the bayou and Nashville.  You ought to check him out.

Click Here to listen to the opening moments of Leslie Mendelson's cover of Cry Cry Darlin'.  I will update the link once I can find a full version online.

Click Here to watch Jimmy C. Newman perform Cry Cry Darlin', later in life, at the Grand Ole Opry.

Click Here to listen to Bill Monroe's cover version of Cry Cry Darlin'.