A Song Perfect for Her
Childbirth was a figure in the circumstances surrounding Crystal Gayle’s performance of an old pop standard. It first appeared on the national scene in 1951 with the song written by Churchill Kohlman, “Cry”.
During the recording of ‘Straight To The Heart’ album, Crystal Gayle underwent cesarean in the delivery of her son Christos. Complications arose and she had to stay in bed for six weeks after the surgery. Several studio bookings were canceled because of it. During the post-surgery period, her producer had a sudden flash of inspiration while driving into work one morning.
Crystal Gayle’s producer, Jim Ed Norman took over production duties from Jimmy Bowen. He had been working with Crystal for about a year when he began thinking that there was something in Crystal’s voice. Eventhough he knew it, he still hadn’t captured it yet. It was the “torch-like” part of what she does – the bluesy style. Gayle’s former producer Allen Reynolds had been able to accomplish this with some song. However, this achievement had so far eluded Jim Ed Norman. Literally, within seconds of making that particular observation, the song “Cry” popped into his head.
Recording the Hit
Norman called Crystal Gayle at home and had no trouble convincing her to remake the Johnnie Ray 1951 classic. She had grown up singing that song and she was so familiar with it that she didn’t even ask for a lead sheet.
Restless Heart’s Dave Innis was hired as one of the musicians Norman assembled for the session. He came away with a new appreciation for the talents of the diminutive but mighty vocalist. Innis was amazed at how big Crystal’s voice was in the studio. She was there the entire time and worked hard with the ensemble. Unlike “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”, which went down in one take, Gayle sang “Cry” all the way through over twenty times before she achieved the track she wanted.
On top of all that, Crystal Gayle decided to make the project even more complicated by recording “Cry” in two different keys. She claimed to do this on several occasions, especially on sessions that were scheduled in the morning hours.
She thought her voice wasn’t quite on target early in the day, so if she recorded something during the morning. It was more often than not she would ask to re-cut the song later in the afternoon or evening.
Then they would compare the two tracks and see which one had the right “feel.”
Apparently, everything was just right because Crystal Gayle’s version of “Cry” settled onto Billboard’s country singles chart on July 26, 1986, for a nineteen-week chart ride that culminated with the song reaching No. 1 three months later on.