G-L-O-R-I-A, Rich Paschall
She sure is a popular girl. When you consider the number of songs titled “Gloria” and the many cover versions of those same songs, it seems like someone is always singing out her name. Lately, it seems everyone in St. Louis is singing about her, but that is another story that is best not told in Boston.
Leon Rene wrote a tune about this crowd-pleasing name in the 1940’s. Several groups had recorded the song and The Mills Brothers reached number 17 on the charts with a soft jazz version recorded in 1948. It was the doo wop version recorded in 1954 by the Cadillacs that became a big hit. So many groups covered the Cadillacs version that it is said to be one of the most covered songs of the doo wop era.
Van Morrison penned a memorable tune about Gloria and recorded it with his group Them in 1964. It was released as the B-side of another song and did not gain much traction. Rock radio giant WLS in Chicago would not play the tune because of one particular line which was changed by a Chicago band to be more acceptable.
A group from the Chicago suburbs, The Shadows of Knight, made it to number 10 on the Billboard 100 with the Van Morrison composition. Sounding more like a “garage band” of the time period, the hard driving version certainly made G-L-O-R-I-A smile.
Iconic Irish rockers U2 treated Gloria to a tune as well in 1981. While it achieved some success in other English speaking nations, it did not do so well in America. Nevertheless, it was often played in concert by the band. Lead singer Bono said of the song in 1994, “It’s so wonderfully mad and epic and operatic. And of course Gloria is about a woman in the Van Morrison sense.”
In 1982 Laura Branigan gave Gloria a disco beat. The song was a rework of an Italian hit by Umberto Tozzi. The lyric was a true reworking, rather than an English translation which Tozzi also recorded. The hit by Branigan was her biggest and always on her performance list. For reasons you may have read the song, which has nothing to do with hockey, became a theme for the 2019 St. Louis Blues.
Appropriately enough, the official music video for Branigan’s Gloria starts out with a disco mirror ball.
Swedish rockers Mando Diao, a garage rock band for millenials, had a song for our girl in 2009. Recorded the previous year, it was a single from the album “Give Me Fire.”
“And, Gloria, did you finally see that enough is enough?”
In 2019 indie rockers The Lumineers had some words of caution for Gloria. The single is off the album III to be released in September and has topped the alternative radio charts.
See also: The Lumineers’ “Gloria” Enjoys 4th Week As Alternative Radio’s #1 Song, headlineplanet.com June 30, 2019.