Brenda Lee, I'm Sorry (1960)

 |   |  1 min read

Brenda Lee, I'm Sorry (1960)

Little Brenda Lee -- who stood 4'9" -- was never a threat. Not to girls in her audience. "My image wasn't one of a heartbreaker," she once said. "I was the little fat girl your mother didn't mind you playing with."

When Lee went to number one with this powerful and aching performance she was one of the few women -- she was 15 -- to crack the charts. Just two years previous there had only been three records by women in Billboard's end of year tally of the top 50.

One of those was by Connie Francis who had been marketed "as chubby and unglamorous," writes  Elijah Wald in How The Beatles Destroyed Rock'n'Roll, "so her success affirmed her fans rather than threatening them".

"It was a totally male dominated market," said Francis later. "The majority of people who bought records were girls. And their idols were boys. So they bought records by boys. I was really a fluke."

In a sense so was Lee: she'd started off as a country singer and delivered Christmas songs (she was still a pre-teen) but then crossed over into the pop market. Because of the power of her voice she was known as "Little Miss Dynamite".

I'm Sorry was actually held back by her record company because the maturity of the lyrics didn't seem right coming from the mouth of a 15 year old. It was also on the B-side of a single.

But it was unstoppable -- and its use of strings heralded what became known as The Nashville Sound. It was also an honest song in the midst of novelty hits: it knocked Alley Oop off the top spot -- but was followed by Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.

Lee sings I'm Sorry with commitment -- and the little fat girl who was heartbroken was recognised as a real heartbreaker.

Incidentally, when she toured the UK in the early Sixties there was a band down the bill whose career would soon take off and render singers like Lee redundant: The Beatles.

For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Cynthia Lennon: Walking in the Rain (1995)

Cynthia Lennon: Walking in the Rain (1995)

It was inevitable that after their divorce, Cynthia Lennon -- married to John for six years from '62 -- would live in the shadow of her famous husband and struggle to find a meaningful place in the... > Read more

The Rainmakers: Let My People Go-Go (1986)

The Rainmakers: Let My People Go-Go (1986)

Bob Walkenhorst of Kansas City's Rainmakers had a good line about his fellow Americans' willingness to get out of it. "The generation that would change the world is still looking for its... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Hobart, Tasmania: Where the past is present

Hobart, Tasmania: Where the past is present

On the foreshore of Sullivan's Cove – the tourist hub of Hobart, Tasmania's capital – is a collection of interesting bronze statues. The largest is of a man holding aloft a... > Read more

Josh Rouse: The Embers of Time (YepRoc/Southbound)

Josh Rouse: The Embers of Time (YepRoc/Southbound)

For more than two decades this singer-songwriter – who started in Nashville and now works from his decade-long home in Spain -- has released under-appreciated albums (Under Cold Blue Stars... > Read more