The Four Seasons weren’t lying when they talk about how big they were in the 1960’s. With “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, The Four Seasons would become the first act in the rock era to hit number one with their first two singles, and why wouldn’t that happen as the second song adopted nearly the identical formula as their first number one, “Sherry”.
The song again featured Frankie Valli’s falsetto, a solid doo wop back up, Bob Gaudio’s writing and Bob Crewe’s production and musically speaking didn’t sound all that much different from “Sherry” and frankly could easily bleed into each other. Also, like the first number one hit, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” is a song that has an infectious hook and due to the success of Jersey Boys, and use in commercials, it is more well-known than many of the other hits of 1962.
Gaudio states that he came up with the song’s title when he dozed off while watching the 1956 film, Tennessee’s Partner, a film noire starring John Payne who was one of the go-to guys for that genre for that time frame.[i] In the flick, Payne’s character slapped a female who when asked what she thought about the strike responded with “Big Girls Don’t Cry”.[ii] Gaudio wrote down that line and penned the rest of the song the morning after.
The Four Seasons would not sing about the violence from which the idea originated from but the title would be the response to when the song’s narrator told his girl that they were breaking up. Now whether most of the listeners picked up on that is in doubt, but they sure as hell remembered the title.
“Big Girls Don’t Cry” would also go to number one on the R&B chart, not exactly a surprise as those who only heard the first two hits of the Four Seasons and were not aware of the Italian names behind it, thought the group was black. While there had already been successful Italian-American doo wop groups, few of them “sounded” like they could be black. This certainly did not hurt the success of the Four Seasons, who will be making their third appearance in this book shortly.
Oh, and I hate the way Valli sings in this song too…but I am not going to cry about it.
Other Notable Songs that charted but did not go to number one in this time period: November 17, 1962 – December 21, 1962.
11/24/62: Anna (Go to Him) by Arthur Alexander reached #68 and hit #10 on the R&B Chart.
11/24/62: Mind Over Matter by Nolan Strong & The Diablos went to #112.
12/1/62: Keep Your Hands Off My Baby made it to #12 and climbed to #6 on the R&B Chart.
12/8/62: Don’t Hang Up by the Orions went to #4 and to #3 on the R&B Chart.
[i] Ronald Reagan was also in this film. Bonzo’s friend will be talked about much later.
[ii] This is a hell of a lot better response than Little Eva had when she was getting slapped around by her boyfriend.