“I Know” by Perry Como
Perry Como’s “I Know” is premised on the narrator being one of those types of individuals who has faced some serious hardships in life. He knows how it feels when his world seems like it is about to come to an end, and he has had the harrowing experience of having to press forward even when felt “lost”, “alone” and heavily depressed.
In fact it was under such circumstances, having grown accustomed to despair so to speak, that he became familiar with the addressee. And said addressee has had a positive-transformative effect on his life.
So in the aftermath, the singer is no longer familiar with “doubts and fear”. Instead those types of negative sensations have been replaced with “joy of… love” for the addressee and a sense of indomitable pride. Basically the aforementioned transformation is a direct result of the vocalist’s relationship with the addressee. And accordingly the former is exclaiming his willingness to “live” and “die” for the latter.
Who is the Addressee?
Now if you’re thinking that these lyrics read as if they are spiritual in nature, with the addressee perhaps being a higher power, then that would be a reasonable postulation. That’s because the single Perry Como dropped right after this one, also in 1959, is actually entitled “I Know What God Is”.
And the lyrics of that song are very similar to “I Know” but focus exclusively on the positive. And that is the explanation we’re going to cleave to, that Perry Como – whom many actually categorize as an ‘American performer of Christian music’ – is in fact speaking to the age-old concept of a destitute life being totally flipped by God.
But that noted, being that such an idea is never explicitly mentioned in the lyrics, they can also perhaps be interpreted otherwise. And in that regard the addressee could be someone like a significant other whose presence injected newfound hope into the singer’s soul.
Perry Como is a legendary entertainer, being involved in both radio (including music) and television, who was active throughout most of the 20th century. He was somewhat of a musical prodigy but perhaps even more importantly in the grand scheme of things developed a very-keen, personal interest in music at a very young age. He also happens to have been a very talented barber, working his way up to owning his own shop at the tender age of 14.
Early in his barbering career, Perry had the tendency to sing while he worked and built a name for himself, being called the “Wedding Barber”. And it was ultimately albeit indirectly via barbering, which he was very successful at, that Perry Como, in his early 20s, also got into professional singing.
In fact at that time he was still earning more money as a barber than he was as a singer. But since he (as well as his dad) deemed that the latter held more potential in the long run, that’s what Perry decided to focus on.
Then about a decade later, now making a more appreciable income from singing, Como still quit the profession with the intention of once again opening a barber shop. His decision to do so was founded in a desire to be near his wife and small son as opposed to out on the road, which his singing career had formerly required. But around that time he landed a contract with CBS which allowed him to stay in the musical profession while simultaneously spending more time with his family.
It was also during this same era, the early 1940s, that he would sign with RCA Victor, the label Perry recorded with exclusively throughout his career and remained with for nearly 50 years. Moreover, this was around the time that he once and for all decided that singing/entertainment would be his career.
Also in 1943, Perry Como was signed by 20th Century-Fox, with him resultantly appearing in a few movies. However, he wasn’t really into making motion pictures like that and rather focused on television and music.
By the time all was said and done, as noted earlier, he was considered to be one of the greatest entertainers America ever produced. And we use the term entertainer as opposed to just singer, because he excelled in various fields. For instance, the late Perry Como actually boasts of three different stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One of them, which can be found at 6300 Hollywood Boulevard, is for television. Another, situated on the 6600 block, is for his musical contributions. And then yet another is located at 1700 Vine Street, as he was also a very-popular radio personality.
Perry Como dropped a bunch of singles throughout the years, and it is estimated that he sold over 100 million records. “I Know” is a song he put out in 1959, in conjunction with The Ray Charles Singers and the Mitchell Ayres Orchestra. And to note this is Ray Charles (1918-2015) the Caucasian we’re talking about here – who was a singer/vocal arranger/conductor – not the more popular Black one (1930-2004).
The music to “I Know” was written by Carl Stutz (d. 1996) and the lyrics a regular of collaborator of his, Edith Lindeman (1898-1984), the latter of whom is a Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee.