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Sep 03

FRANKIE LAINE – “Answer Me”

Popular11 comments • 2,048 views

#15, 13th November 1953

Frankie’s version brushes David Whitfield’s aside with embarrassing ease. More than just a difference in technique, there’s an immense gap in class between the two men, with Laine’s third No.1 of the year again taking a different approach again from his others. This time he restrains himself until the last seconds, spending most of the song picking his words out politely and carefully with just an acoustic and organ for backing. It means the listener can concentrate on the song. Unfortunately I don’t actually like the song – a beseeching ballad which comes off as dripping and cloying – but at least Laine gives me a chance to.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Erithian on 13 Oct 2006 #

    This was originally a German-language song called “Glaube mir” (“Believe me”). A version in the original German by a female vocalist is used very effectively on the soundtrack to the 1993 Anthony Hopkins/Isabella Rosselini film version of Ian McEwan’s Cold War novel “The Innocent”. Can anyone help me with the name of the singer?

  2. 2
    Doctor Mod on 14 Oct 2006 #

    Wow–I spent over an hour searching this on the net. I didn’t find the answer for you, but I found out a lot about the many lives of this song. It was written by a couple of Germans, originally titled “Mütterlein” (for the composer’s mother’s 75th birthday). Given the melody, I fear this would have been one frightening example of German sentimentality (about which I know a little too much) but lacking the broader appeal of a love song. So it was retitled with lyrics about love gone wrong–twice. In the first instance, it was directed to God, asking why the girl left; the second, more common, is directed to the lover herself (or, for that matter, himself). Laine actually recorded English translations of both–“Answer Me, O My Lord” and “Answer Me, O My Love.” I presume the second was the hit, although Nat King Cole’s version (of the latter) was the big hit in the US a year later. I’ve only been able to track down one Deutschephone hit version (as “Glaube Mir”), sung by Wolfgang Sauer–it’s of the worst and clunkiest sort of German singing imaginable, so much so that you’d never know it was about a heartbreak as Sauer seems more intent on enunciating every last consonant with the most exacting German precision. (Achtung, Baby!–well, at least it doesn’t sound like it’s beseeching.)

    Alas, I couldn’t find a version sung in German by a woman, though there was a soundtrack album issued for The Innocent. Perhaps one way to find out is to watch the film on VHS or DVD and try to pause on the frames showing soundtrack credits.

    In the meantime, I discovered a zillion versions in English, sung by everyone from the usual 1950s suspects to Petula Clark (bland with an incongruous beat) to Gene Pitney (credible) to P J Proby (amazing) to Joni Mitchell (doesn’t sound like herself) to Bryan Ferry (interesting in its way). Weirdly enough, I liked Proby’s rock/beat version the best.

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 8 Nov 2007 #

    It should also be mentioned that Barbara Dickson had her biggest solo UK hit with her version, done in the soft rock style and produced by Junior Campbell, in 1976.

  4. 4
    Caledonianne on 8 Nov 2007 #

    My mother loved that Barbara Dickson version – she said it was great to do the hoovering to!

    Anne

  5. 5
    intothefireuk on 8 Nov 2007 #

    Overtaking Whitfields’s AM is Laines version. This is a more restrained and slightly less mannered take on the Germanic ballad (an oxymoron ?)with Frankies heavenly choir ooh-ing in the background. The version I have is Answer Me O Lord as opposed to Answer Me My Love – is this the one that was banned by the Beeb ? and if so why ? Surely the higher authority would be the way to go here.

  6. 6
    Marcello Carlin on 9 Nov 2007 #

    With the exception of hymns and classical music, the Reithian BBC of the fifties took a very dim view of the Lord’s name being taken in vain on pop records – their charter at the time ruled against “blasphemy” in any shape or form of which this was apparently one.

  7. 7
    wichita lineman on 31 May 2008 #

    David Whitfield and Frankie Laine both cut “my love” and “my lord” versions, but I’ve only heard the prayer versions of either – maybe the less offensive versions were cut for the BBC?

    Either way, I think this sounds a lot more modern than most of the orch-ballads that have hit number one this far. Frankie, the big man, sobbing quietly on his knees. Well, I’m touched.

    You know that famous Scrambled Eggs number? Could be that Macca “scrambled” the tune of Answer Me around in his dream, which would explain why he was convinced it already existed. You’ve got to admire his honesty.

    Another Frankie Laine hit from this year – The Girl In The Wood – was half-inched by “clairvoyant” Geoff Goddard for another number one in 1961.

  8. 8
    Matthew on 10 Jan 2009 #

    Goodness, this is such a brilliant idea: if you’re unhappy with the current chart number one, knock out a superior cover version in time to replace it the following week. Or does this count as the first chart sighting of a “remix”?

  9. 9
    Eli on 19 Dec 2010 #

    wichitalineman – David’s recut version hit the shops soon after, and probably explains it’s return to #1. It has been re-issued on CD. Frankie Laine didn’t bother recutting it until far later, by which time there was no point.

    Certainly preferable to David’s version, but not a favourite of mine by any means.

  10. 10
    Alan Coupe on 18 Dec 2016 #

    Glaube Mir was recorded by Maria Mucke in 1954

  11. 11
    Scott B. on 28 Feb 2017 #

    The opening “Answer me, oh my love/just what sin have I been guilty of” is strongly reminiscent (not just lyrically) of this couplet from Paul McCartney’s song Wanderlust: “Oh where did I, go wrong my love/What petty crime was I found guilty of”.

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