“Tell Laura I Love Her”

“Tell Laura I Love Her”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Jeff Barry
“Tell Laura I Love Her”

Written by Jeff Barry and Ben Raleigh
Recorded by Ray Peterson

This song was my first hit — in 1960. The story is about a young guy who is in love — with Laura. He has no money and he wants to be able to buy his girl some gifts. He sees a sign for a stock car race with a prize of $1,000. He joins the race to get the money and gets killed. It’s a real teen angst story. I wrote it in 1959. I didn’t even own a car then. I was a Brooklyn cowboy. In fact, I still wear cowboy shirts.

When I sat down to write this song, I originally saw it as a sign for a prize for winning a rodeo. Not many people know that there was a rodeo every year in Brooklyn of all places — and I went regularly.

I played the first version of the song for my very first publisher, Arnold Shaw. He said, “That’s interesting, but the guy is gored to death by a Brahma bull?!” (I forgot to mention that detail.) “Who can relate to that?” That was obviously true, so I changed it. Stock car race had the same three syllables as ro-de-o and still fit in the melody — and people could relate to it.

I was told that there was a fuss in England about whether they could play it on radio because of the content but I was too excited about getting airplay in the U.S. to worry about it.

“Tell Laura I Love Her”

Laura and Tommy were lovers.

He wanted to give her everything

Flowers, presents and, most of all, a wedding ring.

He saw a sign for a stock car race

A thousand dollar price it read.

He couldn’t get Laura on the phone

So to her mother Tommy said

Tell Laura I love her,

Tell Laura I need her.

Tell Laura I may be late

I have something to do

That cannot wait.

He drove his car to the racing ground,

He was the youngest driver there.

The crowd roared as they started the race,

From the track they drove at a deadly pace.

No one knows what happened that day,

How his car overturned in flames.

But as they pulled him from the twisted wreck,

With his dying breath they heard him say

Tell Laura I love her,

Tell Laura I need her.

Tell Laura not to cry,

My love for her will never die.

Now in the chapel where Laura prays

For her Tommy who passed away

It was just for Laura he lived and died.

Alone in the chapel she could hear him cry

Tell Laura I love her,

Tell Laura I need her.

Tell Laura not to cry,

My love for her will never die.

Tell Laura I love her,

Tell Laura I need her.

Tell Laura not to cry,

My love for her will never die.

Written by Jeff Barry and Ben Raleigh. © Music Sales Corporation © 1960 Wise Brothers Music, LLC and Edward B. Marks Music Company. International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

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