Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Calling Gloria...

Laura Branigan died on Thursday. She was only 47. She reportedly died in her sleep of a brain aneurysm. Considered by some to be merely a one-hit wonder thanks to her smash hit "Gloria", the throaty singer actually had a number of hits, including "Solitaire", "Self Control", "The Lucky One", "Ti Amo" and "How am I Supposed to Live Without You". Despite releasing more albums and singles, Laura was never able to emerge from the shadows of her similarly-voiced contemporaries Kim Carnes and Bonnie Tyler. Today, her legacy is perhaps best felt in the songs of Sophie B. Hawkins and Alannah Myles.

"Gloria" was one of the first two 45s I ever bought, purchased on the same day (a Sunday, at Pamida) as "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners. Of the two, "Gloria" spun on the turntable of my parents' console stereo far more often, until the diamond-tipped needle had sheered off all of the high notes, leaving the sythesized horns strangely muted but Laura's vocals intact. I still have it. To an 11-year-old on the cusp of a hormone typhoon, Laura's full, sultry voice was pure lust. That may be partially why she spent so much time in my headphones (the big airline-pilot cans with cracking vinyl, telephone-syle coiled cord, and a jack as thick as your thumb). But why is it then that I felt such a compelling desire to return to Gloria's story of unfulfilled desire and elusive happiness? Laura Branigan was much more than an appealing voice; she was also a great storyteller.

Laura, you'll be missed.

The joy you gave me lives on and on
’Cause I know you by heart

I still hear your voice
On warm summer nights
Whispering like the wind
Oh oh oh oh

You left in autumn
The leaves were turning
I walked down roads of orange and gold
I saw your sweet smile
I heard your laughter
You're still here beside me every day
’Cause I know you by heart


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