It's funny, the useless things you remember.
As I was driving around doing my errands this morning, Gloria Estefan started singing some old songs to me. Her CD, Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, came on the changer, and I had to laugh at myself, because for nearly every song she sang, I could name the male singer who had originally recorded it, thirty or forty years ago.
And as each new song came on, I was surprised and delighted once again, as if knowing the last three songs wouldn't have given me the idea that maybe I'd know the next one, too. As I thought about the original versions of these songs, it occurred to me that the male singers who had recorded them had higher voices than Gloria Estefan. Maybe that's how the songs got chosen, because they were in her vocal range.
My memory has some gaps in it now. There was a time when I could identify any song that came on the radio by the first three notes. Of course, that was a long, long time ago, and there were far fewer songs then.
The title song gave me some trouble. I knew the singer's name was Mel, and I knew it wasn't Mel Tillis (or Mel Gibson or Mel Brooks). I thought and thought as I drove around listening to it, but I didn't come up with the name until I got home where I could Google the song. Mel Carter. At least I'm not crazy. The song is also associated with U2, but not by me.
Google also reminded me of another Mel Carter song that I'd forgotten, "All of a Sudden My Heart Sings," which is so similar in structure to "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" that it could almost be the same song. That's how it was in those days (the 1960s, that is). If you had a hit with one song, you redid it and called it something else and could probably count on another hit. Look at the Dixie Cups (not the Dixie Chicks), with "Chapel of Love" followed by "People Say."
Most of the songs on the CD were easy to recognize. "How Can I Be Sure": Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals. "Traces": Dennis Yost of the Classics IV. "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying": Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers. "You've Made Me So Very Happy": David Clayton Thomas of Blood, Sweat and Tears. I didn't have to look up any of those names, although I did look up Gerry's last name because I wasn't sure I was right. I was.
Not surprisingly, the only songs I couldn't even make a guess about were a couple of disco numbers, "Everlasting Love" (also recorded by U2, and before that by Carl Carlton) and "Turn the Beat Around" (apparently this wasn't done by the Pointer Sisters at all, but by Vicki Sue Robinson).