There are some recordings of some songs that aren’t just definitive, but they’re so perfect that there seems no point in anyone else even trying. Skeeter Davis’ 1962 hit of “The End of the World” may be one of them. Davis’ delivery, with the affectingly muted orchestration, completely embodies the resigned fatalism of heartbreak. End of the world? Whatever. Though Brenda Lee’s version from less than a year later arguably comes close, even the best of the other dozens of attempts -- and it’s been done by everyone from Herman’s Hermits through Susan Boyle -- can elicit a lukewarm, “Why bother?”
Until now. The multi-faceted Los Angeles belter Ruby Friedman has come through with a truly worthy interpretation. One of the big-buzz artists around town for several years now both for her gripping originals and distinctive covers, Friedman recorded the Arthur Kent/Sylvia Dee composition recently after a year of haranguing by veteran tastemaker Rodney Bingenheimer. The result, Friedman’s seductive voice layered in a colorfully haunted atmosphere produced by Matthew Steer and Colin McGuinness, will air on Bingenheimer’s KROQ show this Sunday. But you can hear it now on Soundcloud:
Friedman notes that this was a one-off side project and at the moment she’s back with her regular band, the Ruby Friedman Orchestra, working on a new album with producer Michael Beinhorn, whose credits include the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden. “We’re way more rock jazz back alley opera sounding,” she says. We can’t wait.
Meanwhile, for comparison purposes, the Skeeter Davis landmark: