Brenda Lee’s last Top 10 hit

It’s good to be back!  I’ve had intermittent Internet the past few days, which is part of why I haven’t posted in more than a week. I’m also trying to live some real life, too.

Between practices for two choirs (church choir and Jefferson Choral Society) and planning and implementing my new radio show, “The Tim Neely Experience” (Tuesdays from 8:30-10 pm Eastern on Sweet Briar College’s radio station, 92.7 The Briar), my nights have been pretty active.  I’ve been spending my days continuing to organize my new abode while fruitlessly seeking work. Maybe that last item will change soon, too.

Here in Virginia, we’re now in the throes of autumn, my favorite season of the year. The last couple days remind me why I love it so much. Even though yesterday was cloudy, it was still comfortable outside, and a few leaves are starting to turn colors. Today is absolutely glorious. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

The Top 1,000 Hits of the 1960s continues to roll on. Today, the spotlight is on the last Top 10 single for one of the most popular singers of the pre-Beatles era.  Today’s audiences probably know Brenda Lee best for her Christmas perennial, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” which she recorded in 1958, more than a year before she started her four-year run of hit singles. But she has 12 of the top 1,000 hits in the proposed book.

# 682
Losing You / Brenda Lee /
Decca 31478
(Total points: 1,062 / Chart debut: 4/6/1963 / Chart peak: 6 / Weeks on chart: 13)

“Losing You,” the fourth of 12 hits by Brenda Lee in our countdown, would prove to be her last Top 10 single. As was true of several of her hits, including “I Want to Be Wanted” and “All Alone Am I,” it featured a melody written in Europe with new English lyrics added.

Jean Renard (born 1933) wrote a tune he called “Roseline” around 1950; it is said to be the first song he ever composed. Years later, in 1962, he dug up the melody, and the French lyricist Pierre Havel turned it into a song called “Un ange est venu” (English: “An Angel Came”). Recorded by Maria Candido in 1962, it was enough of a hit in France that, when Lee’s “Losing You” was released on an extended-play single there, it was given the subtitle “Un ange est venu.”

Decca Records owned the American rights to the Candido recording. Rather than release it in the States, lyricist Carl Sigman (“Ebb Tide,” “A Marshmallow World,” “Till,” “What Now My Love” and dozens of others) wrote English lyrics to Renard’s melody, and the song ended up with Lee. She and the usual collection of Nashville studio professionals assembled on February 17, 1963 to record the song. Producer Owen Bradley wasn’t satisfied with the results, so another attempt was made on February 20, with the addition of trumpeter Don Sheffield to give it an ear-catching flair.

Released in the second half of March 1963 with the flip side “He’s So Heavenly,” a song recorded at the same sessions that produced “All Alone Am I,” “Losing You” reached its #6 peak in the May 25 edition.

Lee would have five more Top 20 singles, including “Is It True,” a #17 hit from early 1965 that was recorded in England with a young Jimmy Page on guitar, and her last record to get that high, “Coming On Strong” (#11 in late 1966), which the band Golden Earring would name-drop in their 1974 hit “Radar Love.”

In 1969, without changing her sound significantly, she began to make the country charts for the first time in 12 years, and Lee was a mainstay there during the first half of the 1970s. She spent most of her career with Decca and its successor, MCA, but recorded one single and an unreleased album for Elektra in 1978 and two albums for Warner Bros. in the early 1990s. Still later, she released two CDs on her own label and in 2007 recorded an album of gospel duets for the Provident label.

Collector’s notes: In keeping with Decca’s usual pattern, two pressings of “Losing You” exist. The large-print version, with the catalog number at the right over the color bars, came from Pinckneyville, Ill.; the small-print version, with the number at the left and publishing information at the right, came from Gloversville, N.Y. Both are from the time the song was a hit.

“Losing You” was issued with a picture sleeve.

Fast fact: Shortly after “Losing You” became a hit, it was translated back into French! This version, entitled “Je te perds” (English: “I lose you”), was recorded by French-Canadian singer Michel Louvain in 1963 (Apex Canadien 13298) and became a hit in Quebec. It has a similar arrangement to the Lee version, including a solo trumpet.


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