Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Jay and the Americans -- "Cara Mia" (1965)

Cara mia, why
Must we say goodbye?

Last week, while I was in San Diego attending a trade show with a number of my work colleagues, I managed to find time in my busy schedule for a glass of wine and some conversation at a bar across the street from the convention center.
“Who did that record?” I asked when a song I hadn’t heard in years began to play on the bar’s sound system.
“The Beatles,” my companion said. 
“Really?” I said. 
It was definitely a British Invasion record, but I was thinking Gerry and the Pacemakers or the Dave Clark Five – not the Beatles.

It wasn’t that the record didn’t sound like the Beatles.  But I’ve heard even the more obscure Beatles songs many, many times over the years, and I didn’t think this was one that the Beatles had recorded. 
I pulled out my Blackberry, typed a couple of lines from the song into a Google search box, and waited to see what popped up.
As I suspected, the song hadn’t been recorded by the Beatles.  It was a Dave Clark Five single. 
The next song was from the same era, and featured a male singer who wasn’t afraid to play the falsetto card.

“Who did this one?”  I asked.
“Roy Orbison,” my friend answered.
The singer did sound like Roy Orbison, but I was pretty sure that the song we were hearing wasn’t a Roy Orbison record.
I pulled out my Blackberry once again, and typed the lyrics quoted above into Google.
Roy Orbison?  No!  Jay and the Americans?  Sí!
Jay and the Americans
Or, as I am very fond of saying, “That’s right . . . you’re wrong!”
I'm telling this story not to glorify my own uncanny knowledge of popular music.  Nor am I telling this story to humiliate my companion just because she wrote a couple of checks that night with her mouth that her you-know-what couldn’t cash.
In fact, I'm telling this story to do both those things.
Did you know there were three different Jays in Jay and the Americans?
John “Jay” Taynor was the group’s original lead singer.  They had one top ten hit with Traynor as their vocalist, but he left when the group’s next couple of singles failed to chart.

Jay Black on "Shindig" (1965)
Traynor was replaced by David “Jay” Black (ne Blatt).  Black was the singer on “Come a Little Bit Closer,” “Cara Mia,” and “This Magic Moment.”
Unfortunately, Jay Black had to file for bankruptcy in 2006 as the result of gambling debts.  His ownership of the group’s name was sold by the bankruptcy trustee to Sandy Deanne, an original member of the group who reunited with two other original members and recruited a new lead singer, John “Jay” Reincke.

Jay Black today
“Cara Mia” was originally recorded in 1954 by British singer David Whitfield and the Mantovani Orchestra.  It was #1 on the UK singles chart for ten consecutive weeks.
The Jay and the Americans cover made it to #4 in the U.S. in 1965, despite the fact that it has only one verse, which is sung by Jay Black.
Here’s “Cara Mia” (which means “My Beloved” in Italian):
Click below to order the song from Amazon:

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