The Platters – The Great Pretender

The Platters were an influential 1950s vocal group. Herb Reed, their last surviving member, has died. While the band had different lineups, they scored 40 hits on the Billboard top 100 chart between 1955 and 1967. Four of these were #1 records, including this 1956 song.

The lyrics could easily be (wrongly, but still) interpreted as being about a politician. A politician that is “on” when the camera is, but lonely despite the crowds. And then, perhaps like Herb Reed, forgotten (how many Platters members can you name without Googling?): “I’ve played the game but to my real shame, you’ve left me to grieve all alone.”

It’s surely a love song, and imagine how much it hurts to be dumped. Now, pretend you’re a politician having lost an election. Which is like being collectively dumped, all at the same time, by thousands of voters. Now, that hurts! It then takes a brave face, like the Great Pretender, to act like you’re “doing well,” so that “no one can tell.”

(Ah well, there are those high paid speaking tours and typically fat public pensions to draw from. Herb Reed wasted much time in court over the rights to the name of his singing group).

Rest in Peace, Herb Reed (August 7, 1928 – June 4, 2012), a man that sang on almost all 400 Platters tunes. Chins up, defeated politicians everywhere.


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