Featured in the 1947 film of the same name starring Marlene Dietrich and Ray Milland,
Golden Earrings is a sultry, exotic ballad I take great pleasure in singing. Michael Smith suggested it to me when we put together our Fire and Smoke Cabaret, with the wonderful cellist Bob Weber. I still have Michael’s recording of it, too. My Jamie O’Reilly Trio recorded it in 2008 on our Souvenir CD, engineered by Peter Swenson.
Pop singer Peggy Lee made the song famous. Unlike the film, the song has stood the test of time and is a jazz standard. I share it here with the caveat that the use of the term “gypsy” is unacceptable in current culture. In the lyrics below I’ve included the change I make when I sing it now, (* in parenthesis.)
by Jay Livingston / Victor Young / Ray Evans
There is a story the gypsies know is true
(*There is a story the people know is true)
That when your love wears golden earrings,
He belongs to you.
An old love story that’s known to very few,
But if you wear those golden earrings,
Love will come to you.
By the burning fire, they will glow with ev’ry coal.
You will hear desire whisper low inside your soul.
So be my gypsy; (*be my amore)
Make love your guiding light,
And let this pair of golden earrings
Cast their spell tonight.
SongNotes, by Jamie O’Reilly
J. O’Reilly Productions, 2023