Cry Me a River

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This article is about the torch song written by Arthur Hamilton. For the 2002 song recorded by Justin Timberlake, see Cry Me a River (Justin Timberlake song). For other uses, see Cry Me a River (disambiguation).
"Cry Me a River"
Published 1953
Writer(s) Arthur Hamilton
Recorded by

"Cry Me a River" is a popular American torch song, written by Arthur Hamilton, first published in 1953 and made famous in 1955 with the version by Julie London.

Origins and early recordings[edit]

Arthur Hamilton later said of the song: "I had never heard the phrase. I just liked the combination of words... Instead of 'Eat your heart out' or 'I'll get even with you,' it sounded like a good, smart retort to somebody who had hurt your feelings or broken your heart." He was initially concerned that listeners would hear a reference to the Crimea, rather than "..cry me a...", but said that "..sitting down and playing the melody and coming up with lyrics made it a nonissue."[1]

A jazzy blues ballad, "Cry Me a River" was originally written for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in the 1920s-set film, Pete Kelly's Blues (released 1955), but the song was dropped. Fitzgerald first released a recording of the song on Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! in 1961. The song was also offered to Peggy King, but Columbia Records A&R chief Mitch Miller objected to the word "plebeian" in the lyric[2] and its first release was by actress/singer Julie London on Liberty Records in 1955, backed by Barney Kessel on guitar and Ray Leatherwood on bass. A performance of the song by London in the 1956 film The Girl Can't Help It helped to make it a bestseller (reaching nr. 9 on US and nr. 22 on UK charts). London's recording was later featured in the soundtracks for the movies Passion of Mind (2000), and V for Vendetta (2005). It became a gold record, and in 2016, it was inducted by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry.[3]

Later recordings[edit]

Other recordings include a version by Shirley Bassey on her third album, The Fabulous Shirley Bassey, her debut for Columbia in 1959; a version by Barbra Streisand on her 1963 debut album as the opening track of Side 1; and a version by British rocker Joe Cocker, who made the chart in 1970 with an upbeat rock rendition on the album, Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Crystal Gayle recorded the song in 1978, and it was the B-side of her number-one Country hit, "Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For". In 1995, British actress Denise Welch's double A-side "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" / "Cry Me a River" spent three weeks in the UK Singles Chart, reaching #23. Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall recorded the song on her 2001 album, The Look of Love. In 2009, Canadian singer Michael Bublé entered the charts with a big-band jazz version, which is also the opening track of his fourth album Crazy Love. This adaption of the song was used in the BBC's advertising for, and theme music for coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.


External links[edit]