This week Jim Adams has prompted us with choosing songs involving Best | Better | Good | Great for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday.
Today I’m taking you back to 1955 with “The Great Pretender” by The Platters. The song describes a man who is dealing with a heartbreak but is in denial about it.
Formed in Los Angeles in 1952, the original founding members of The Platters were Herb Reed, Alex Hodge, Cornell Gunder and Joe Jefferson managed by Ralph Bass of Federal Records. After recording two singles with little success, Bass asked his long time friend Buck Ram to coach the group. Ram made some major changes by adding a female vocalist Zola Taylor to the group in the fall of 1954 and replaced Alex Hodge with Paul Robi. In June, 1953, Gunter left to join the Flaires and was replaced by lead vocalist Tony Williams.
With Tony Williams on lead vocals, “The Great Pretender”, written by Buck Ram in about 20 minutes in the washroom of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada became the groups first national #1 hit. He was needing a follow up song to “Only You”. Ram was the manager and producer of The Platters and had been a successful songwriter before making the move into management and production.
Freddie Mercury covered the song in 1987 in his larger than life production. In the official video, Freddie brings the “oldie but goodie” back to life with his well known flare. From Wiki “In one of his last videotaped interviews in spring of 1987, Mercury explained that the song was particularly fitting for the way he saw his career and being on stage”. The video featured him parodying himself in many of his Queen outfits from past years. Queen band member Roger Taylor and singer/actor Peter Straker are shown with Freddie in “Tina Turner” like drag singing the backup “Woo Woo”.
Oh-oh, yes I'm the great pretender Pretending that I'm doing well My need is such I pretend too much I'm lonely but no one can tell Oh-oh, yes I'm the great pretender Adrift in a world of my own I've played the game but to my real shame You've left me to grieve all alone Too real is this feeling of make-believe Too real when I feel what my heart can't conceal Yes I'm the great pretender Just laughin' and gay like a clown I seem to be what I'm not, you see I'm wearing my heart like a crown Pretending that you're still around Too real is this feeling of make-believe Too real when I feel what my heart can't conceal Yes I'm the great pretender Just laughin' and gay like the clown I seem to be what I'm not, you see I'm wearing my heart like a crown Pretending that you're still around Source: LyricFind Songwriters: Buck Ram The great pretender lyrics © Peermusic Publishing