164. ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’, by Cilla Black

Alright, chuck? What’s your name and where d’you come from? Me name’s Cilla, and I’m from Liverpool.

1962 and ’63 were barren years in terms of women reaching number one in the UK. 1963 had precisely zero female #1s, while 1962 had just the one – Wendy Richard popping up as the featured artist on Mike Sarne’s ‘Come Outside’ (and she didn’t even sing on that record!) No, if we are counting #1 discs sung solely by women we have to look all the way back to Helen Shapiro’s ‘Walkin’ Back to Happiness’ from October 1961! No pressure then, Cilla…

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Anyone Who Had a Heart, by Cilla Black (her 1st of two #1s)

3 weeks, from 27th February – 19th March 1964

This is a dramatic record. Right from the opening chords. Dun… Dun Dun… It’s the sort of song sung onstage, in a movie, while a murder is being committed in the wings. We’ve got a jabbing piano, cascading strings, and those rolling drums that are fast becoming the sound of the mid-sixties. Anyone who ever loved, Could look at me, And know that I love you…. It’s the song of a spurned lover. One who demands better. Knowing I love you… so, Anyone who had a heart, Would take me in his arms and, Love me too…

Writing the words out like that, though, cannot convey the brilliantly stop-start, woozy way that they come at the listener – loud then quiet, soft then angry. The pauses before the ‘so’ and the ‘who’ in the chorus are perfect, as is the whispered What am I to do… before the gorgeous horn solo.

It is a slice of supreme balladry – a seriously classy record. And when you discover, as I just did, that it was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, then that makes complete sense. It’s their 4th UK chart-topper so far. And the soaring ending – with the Anyone who had a heart would love me too… lines emphasised by drumbeats on each word, and Yeah Yeahs from the backing singers, is possibly the most sixties thing we’ve heard yet in this countdown.

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The only unconvincing thing about this record is… sorry Cilla… the voice. Technically, it’s great. But, for me, it sounds just a little young. Anyone who had a heart would love me too… is a difficult line to sell, and in the hands of a twenty-year old Cilla Black it sounds a little bratty. You don’t like me so you must have something wrong with you… My first instinct is to ask: Did Dusty ever sing this? Dusty would have done it justice. And she did. It’s not her finest effort, and I’m not sure about the guitars in place of the piano, but still… Nobody conveys stoic heartbreak like Ms. Springfield. On top of this, the song was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick, who also gave a more grown-up rendition.

But, still, this single launched Cilla Black as one of the biggest British female singers of the decade. Her take on ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ was the biggest selling song by a woman for the entirety of the 1960s! She was, as many people know (and as she kept reminding us for years to come), best mates with The Beatles, coming up through the same club circuit as they did. John Lennon introduced her to Brian Epstein, and the band even accompanied her during her audition for Parlophone.

Maybe what I’m mistaking for brattishness was actually the reason Cilla Black became so popular – her genuine girl-next-door, cheeky charm. She’ll top the charts again very soon and so we’ll hold off talking about what was to come for our Cilla for now. It is interesting to note, though, that both she and the last woman to top the charts, the aforementioned Wendy Richard, went to on to be better known for their TV work than their singing. More on that later…

Listen to every #1 so far with this handy playlist: