In April 2009, I found a couple of “tweets” in my Twitter timeline linking to a Youtube video (here ) of… oh, you know the story of Susan Boyle’s explosion onto the world, the BBC, and the Internet. Today, some seven months later, Susan Boyle’s first CD has been released.
The morning after I discovered the Susan Boyle phenomenon, I wrote an article about her (here). Then, I wrote “Susan Boyle and the Craigslist Killer” (here), an article making an unlikely connection. It occurred to me that those two different figures were illustrations of our obsession with appearance. Just as, it was thought, no one who looked like Susan Boyle could sing as beautifully as Susan Boyle sings, so it was thought that no one as handsome as the alleged Craigslist Killer could commit such hideous crimes.
It seems appropriate for me now to review Susan Boyle’s CD, I Dreamed a Dream (more). Frankly, I shall leave reviewing Susan Boyle’s first CD to braver souls, but for now, I am simply going to write a report about Susan Boyle’s first CD, with links for you to listen to all the tracks, read the lyrics, and draw your own conclusions.
The one conclusion that I am drawing, as you will see in this commentary on the very eclectic collection of songs on Susan Boyle’s first album is that she is still full of surprises for us.
(Update: You can also listen for free to all the songs of Susan Boyle’s second CD, The Gift. Check the article here.)
Susan Boyle sings show tunes
“I Dreamed A Dream” – video | lyrics
“Proud” – video | lyrics
Since her first performance to gain attention was of the great show tune “I Dreamed a Dream,” and since she has expressed an interest in musical theater, many assumed that Susan Boyle’s first CD would be of show tune standards. Instead, it has only two show tunes, “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Proud,” not from the Broadway theater but from a British television program.
Susan Boyle sings hymns and a Christmas carol
“How Great Thou Art” – video | lyrics
“Amazing Grace” – video | lyrics
“Silent Night” – video | lyrics
Since Susan Boyle is known to have sung in her church choir for years, there was speculation that Susan Boyle’s first CD might be an album of hymns. With a release date for Susan Boyle’s first CD just about a month before Christmas, she might have made a Christmas album, although typically, that comes later in a singer’s career. Bob Dylan is just now (forty-seven years after his first album) coming out with a Christmas CD, although truthfully, no one ever expected him to. But, Susan Boyle’s first CD does include two hymns and a Christmas carol.
Susan Boyle sings blue-eyed blues and soul
“Cry Me A River” – video | lyrics
“Up To The Mountain” – video | lyrics
“Cry Me a River” was originally written for Ella Fitzgerald and sung by the likes of Joe Cocker and Julie London (more). “Up to the Mountain” has a gospel sound to it, lush and soulful, with lyrics that recall the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but which could also be a story of any person’s spiritual quest… or even a relationship not between God and a person but between two people. I am going to risk a little critique here to say that for me, “Up to the Mountain” (more) is the most satisfying performance on Susan Boyle’s first CD. She really captures all the rich levels of meaning in this song.
Susan Boyles sings country
“The End Of The World” – video | lyrics
Yes, there is a county song on Susan Boyle’s first CD. “The End of the World,” originally sung by country diva Skeeter Davis, is a transcendant song. It transcends easy categorization, but, you cannot take the country out of this country song.
Susan Boyle sings rock
“Wild Horses” – video | lyrics
“You’ll See” – video | lyrics
“Daydream Believer” – video | lyrics
The Rolling Stones? Madonnna? Hey, hey, how about the Monkees? The first single released from Susan Boyle’s first CD was “Wild Horses,” a Stones song. Yet, it worked; Susan Boyle made the song a stark, simple statement from her heart. You think a Stones song is a stretch for Susan Boyle? How about a Madonna song? Listen to “You’ll See,” and you’ll see (and hear) why it is such an appropriate song for Susan Boyle: “You think I can’t go on another day.” Then, there is “Daydream Believer,” and for probably the only time in the album, Susan Boyle shows a lighter side. But, “a daydream believer and a homecoming queen”? If you know the sad back story of Susan Boyle, lonely and mistreated, you hear things in this song that the Monkees never put there.
Susan Boyle sings an original song
“Who I Was Born To Be” – video | lyrics
It was assumed that Susan Boyle’s first CD would be an album of covers, of songs already sung by others, but Susan Boyle sings this original song as if… well, as if it were written for her, and apparently, it was.
A note on the videos and lyrics
All but one of the songs are covers, sung by someone else, so the lyrics that you have links to may vary from the version that Susan Boyle sings. All of the video links were working on the day that I posted this article. In the strange world of online video, some of these links may no longer work by the time you access them. If there are problems, let me know, and I shall try to keep the links current.
You may like these articles on other contemporary singers
“Don’t Read This or Anything Else About Zee Avi” – read it(ignore the title)
“Esperanza Spalding’s Esperanza” – read it