Johnnie Ray was an American artist active from the early 1940s to the late 1980s. However, he didn’t enjoy uninterrupted success throughout his career. Instead, he peaked in the United States in the 1950s before fading from prominence, so much so that he lost his record deal in 1960. In contrast, he remained popular in the United Kingdom and Australia, which explains why his career continued until the late 1980s. Interested individuals should know Ray was a figure of incredible influence once upon a time. He’s known to have influenced everyone from Elvis to Bob Dylan. As such, Ray’s fall from the heights is that much more curious in this context.
Here is our opinion of the ten best Johnnie Rae songs ever recorded and released:
10. “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”
“I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” was released in 1950. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that it can be considered a forewarning of his musical fortunes from that point forward. The song didn’t do too well in the United States, where it peaked at the number 75 position on the Billboard Hot 100. Even so, it wasn’t without merit, as shown by how it reached the number 26 position in the United Kingdom.
9. “Please, Mr. Sun”
People sometimes think that music from the 1950s is always sugary sweet. This is an extension of how the decade is often viewed in hindsight. However, Ray proves this wasn’t the case because he’s famous for being a bit of a downer in his music. For instance, “Please, Mr. Sun” is a post-breakup song. Its narrator is so desperate that he’s begging the elements to put in a good word for him. Something that doesn’t suggest much hope for a reconciliation.
8. “Somebody Stole My Gal”
On a related note, “Somebody Stole My Gal” is another miserable song for reasons that should be obvious based on its name. Ray isn’t the only one to have recorded it. “Somebody Stole My Gal” became so popular in 1918 that numerous artists recorded their versions in subsequent decades. Despite this, Ray brought his recording to the number eight position on the Billboard Hot 100, thus showing his star power at the height of his success.
7. “As Time Goes By”
“As Time Goes By” is another song recorded by other artists well before Ray came along. Specifically, interested individuals might recognize it because of its inclusion in Casablanca, though it was around for a decade before the movie came out. Ray’s version never charted. Still, it’s worth a listen.
6. “Song of the Dreamer”
“Song of the Dreamer” comes from the mid-1950s. It’s named thus because the narrator is dreaming about a relationship yet to be. He’s aware that it’s still fantasy rather than reality, which is why he’s hoping that it will come true. That sense of long makes “Song of the Dreamer” one of the most representative pieces in Ray’s body of work.
5. “You Don’t Owe Me a Thing”
By 1957, Ray’s popularity was fading in the United States. However, it had yet to go away altogether. After all, “You Don’t Owe Me a Thing” just met the threshold for being a Top 10 hit in the United States, meaning it performed better in that country than in the United Kingdom. Unsurprisingly, this is another post-breakup song. The title suggests the narrator is trying his best to let go gracefully, but it’s clear that he’s still struggling with intense emotions. Thanks to that, “You Don’t Owe Me a Thing” has the ring of authenticity because of the mix of emotions.
4. “Yes Tonight Josephine”
“Yes Tonight Josephine” was released the same year as “You Don’t Owe Me a Thing.” It’s notable for being the last time Ray would score a Top 20 hit in the United States. Yet the song also shows that his reception in the United States and the United Kingdom was starting to diverge. This is because the song became a chart-topper in the latter country. In any case, this is a more upbeat song than many of Ray’s other releases. After all, it’s all about the narrator looking forward to the night with someone he’s set his eyes on.
3. “The Little White Cloud That Cried”
Ray started performing in the early 1940s. It was a decade before record executives would take a chance on him. Still, when he broke through, he did so with explosive force. It’s no exaggeration to say that “The Little White Cloud That Cried” had a critical part in that process. That is because it was the B-side to “Cry.” It wasn’t as successful as its counterpart, but it came one spot short of being a chart-topper anyway.
2. “Just Walkin’ In the Rain”
Johnny Bragg and his band were the first to release “Just Walkin’ In the Rain” in 1953. However, they tend to be overshadowed because of Ray, whose version reached the number-two position on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1956. The song did even better in the United Kingdom, where it hit the top of the charts.
Of course, “Cry” occupies the top of this list. Ruth Casey was the first to record it in 1951. People tend not to remember that because Ray’s version went number one in the same year. As mentioned, “Cry” shared a record with “The Little White Cloud That Cried.” That pair sold more than two million copies. Thanks to that, Ray became a teenage idol in what seemed like an instant, thus kicking off his recording career in spectacular style.
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