I sprang awake, out of a bad dream, at 4:34 a.m. Immediately, I heard the voices in my head. It’s no mystery; my iTunes play count for Gloria has hit triple digits and is marching toward quadruple. And that doesn’t include the two hours I streamed Y98 on Wednesday.
In my haze, as I stumbled to the bathroom, I knew I had to do this.
Now, is this whole exercise actually a convenient way to pass the nervous hours between now and Game 1? Is it just a good excuse to play Gloria another few times?
Well, yeah. Nevertheless.
The Karaoke Version
Before we really get into this, let’s triple-check our memorization of the lyrics and practice singing along with this delightful karaoke version. It brings out the jaunty piano lick that tends to get obscured in other versions, and kicks ass in general.
Observe that the lyric is, “If everybody wants you,” not “anybody,” as I had assumed. Now that I think about it, “everybody” makes more musical sense: It avoids word repetition in the following lyric (“Why isn’t anybody callin’?”) and also makes more grammatical sense.
While just about anyone can sing along respectably with the first 57 seconds, the :58 mark of the karaoke version provides a valuable public service. It reminds all of St. Louis that, while Laura Branigan could and did absolutely crush the shift into high gear for the word “remember,” most of us, well ... just listen to yourself try.
The Italian Original
Had you heard of Umberto Tozzi before the Gloria craze? Me neither, but apparently he’s a big deal, not just in his native Italy, but worldwide. He’s sold more than 70 million records and, according to Wikipedia, is still alive. For all those fans hoping that Laura Branigan could perform the song live at Enterprise Center, Tozzi might be a good Plan B. *Cough cough, Blues in-game entertainment staff*
Stick tap to him for writing the three-note, ear-candy guitar lick at 1:21 that gives the chorus an extra oomph.
In Spanish, too!
Umberto, you multi-lingual devil, you. Here’s a version in Spanish, which is pretty darn similar to Italian. I happen to speak a little Spanish. Below, we’ll see how a British singer-songwriter rewrote Gloria in English. But in his desire to maintain rhyme and rhythm, he lost some of the sentiment of Tozzi’s words.
So if you’ll permit me, I’ll translate — literally — some of the lyrics.
Gloria ... you lack in the air ... your presence lacks ... warm innocence ... you lack in my mouth ... which, without wanting to, calls your name ... and I’ll write my history ... with the word Gloria.
Because here, by your side ... the morning is illuminated ... both truth and lies ... are called Gloria.
Gloria! You lack in the air ... burn me in your fire ... melt me in the snow ... which freezes my heart ... I’ll wait for you, Gloria.
[Chorus]: Gloria! Field of smiles ... water in the desert ... open heart ... adventure of my mind ... of my table and of my bed ... of the garden of my present ... I’ll wait for you, Gloria.
At Long Last, In English
In 1979, not actually that long after the song was released, Jonathan King “translated” — although, in truth, rewrote — Tozzi’s lyrics.
Here’s what he came up with. While Branigan’s version turns the song into a heart-to-heart from a concerned friend, both these lyrics and Tozzi’s present the song as a love ballad to a woman of their affection.
Now, on to the good stuff.
The One We All Know and Love
This is the one with all the views: 22 million and counting, including a ton of comments from Blues fans. It also has a special place in my heart because it took my Gloria virginity — it was this version I first listened to in February, when I found out the Blues, in the midst of an 11-game winning streak, were playing it in the dressing room after wins.
For TV purposes, it appears this version was cut short. It checks in at 3:48, compared to more than 4 minutes in most other editions. Laura therefore eliminated one “If everybody wants you/Why isn’t anybody callin’?” At 1:17, she chooses to elongate “caaaaaaaaaallin,’” not lilting her voice the way she does in the single version (which we’ll get to).
You’ve gotta love the way Laura’s dress perfectly matches the disco ball. And her dance in the last 20 seconds of the video, when she’s finished singing, is the embodiment of how I imagine we all feel when the Blues win a playoff game.
Kinda Fake, but Still Awesome
This rendition, in all honesty, exposes the one flaw of the original VH1 video: the audio quality. VH1 was cutting edge in 1982, but in 2019, it sounds soft and grainy.
Here, you can see that Laura’s voice doesn’t quite match up with her lips. Instead of improving the original audio, an editor simply laid a different audio track on top of Laura’s VH1 performance. So, while this “official video” Vevo version seemingly cranks up and cleans up the audio, it’s a bit inauthentic.
Don’t get me wrong, though. This is the loudest version you’ll find, so there’s no reason not to blast it. Right now. Let’s see if your speakers can handle it.
Go ahead and watch the first 1:29 of this video — you will not regret it. Then, listen for the “caaaaa-llin’” which suggests that the VH1 video version is the one the Blues play at the arena after wins. (By the way, I looked through about 50 videos on the Blues’ website to see if they play the same version in the dressing room after wins. I couldn’t confirm, but it’s a pretty safe assumption.)
The Best Live Performance
An extended-and-improvised performance, with a raspy-voiced and kinda-flirty Laura? SIGN ME THE FUCK UP.
Here’s the original, single version — the one that Blues fans have driven toward the top of the charts.
Unlike the above VH1 versions, you’ll find both the shorter, more lilted, and in my opinion more endearing “caa-ll-ii-ii-in’” at 1:17 and the longer, rawer, more guttural, “caaaaaaa-llin’” at 3:10.
The Best of All Worlds
This one’s got everything: Laura on screen (not just an album cover), in a live performance, rocking out, dancing loose and free — AND the same vocal presentation as the original.
You’ve been listening to Gloria basically non-stop since Tuesday night, and now have heard it another nine times. Need a break? Probably not. But just in case, these are also acceptable songs to listen to.