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ALADDIN 3090; MAY 1951



Individual words may be small but they quickly add up.

There are even words to describe those who use a lot of them – loquacious, long-winded, verbose or the simplest of all – wordy.

Anyone unfortunate enough to read this site from the start has undoubtedly used all of those to describe the writing here at times as the early reviews – relying on faulty online statistics for the ideal length of an entry – never failed to use ten words when a mere three words would’ve done just as well.

In the last two years that’s been addressed, the average length of these have been cut by roughly a thousand words each to make them hopefully far more readable, but it’s still a sensitive topic around here.

All of which means we can sympathize with Amos Milburn on this song, for while it’s hardly his best work it is a record that may have been better received had they simply chopped the title down to size.


Just Got One More Little Word To Say
Here’s a random brain teaser for you if you’re bored some dark winter day… how many great rock songs have really long titles? Not just good records, but the immortal ones, especially singles.

Whatever you come up with it’s probably safe to say that there are far more with one or two word titles than those which have six or more words.

Those which do have a lot often seem more condensed because they’re expressing a fairly straightforward thought – So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star or I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For qualify in that regard.

Then there’s the fact that a lot of those who have long official titles are smart enough to put half the words in parenthesis thereby allowing you to excise them when referencing the songs. (I Can’t Get No) or (Your Love Keeps Liftin’ Me) rarely get used when someone requests Satisfaction or Higher And Higher.

Besides, shorter titles fit better on record labels and… at least in the 1940’s and 50’s… jukeboxes, which is why the decision to use something as long and convoluted as That Was Your Last Mistake – Goodbye for Amos Milburn’s latest record was foolish.

Cut it down to three words, “Your Last Mistake”, and the message remains the same… heck, it might even be more powerful because it’s both more direct and slightly more ambiguous… not to mention being easier to remember.

Would it have been a hit with fewer words in the title? No, maybe not, but had they gone with the shorter version it would’ve saved you from reading almost three hundred words detailing why it was an easily avoidable error in judgement on Aladdin’s part.

I Won’t Regret Telling You
Languid mid-tempo strolls with gently riffing horns, sharp guitar stabs and nimble piano solos are an Amos Milburn specialty. He delivered this songs with a casual nonchalance that was captivating as nobody ever seemed so at ease while delivering a put-down to a girl as he did.

It was a characteristic that helped to set him apart from so many of his peers when facing the dissolution of a romantic partnership. Whereas Ivory Joe Hunter might be broken-up inside, blaming himself and resigned to his fate, or Roy Brown might be emotionally distraught over the situation, Milburn could take it in stride and gave off an entirely different vibe in the process.

He never came off as arrogant or cruel, just more or less unaffected by the ups and downs of love and with Maxwell Davis behind him making sure the songs swung enough to avoid any hint of despondency it was a winning combination.

Though he mostly sticks to that persona here, the title That Was Your Last Mistake – Goodbye sort of betrays that image just a little, making it come across as vindictive when that’s not exactly the way he’s approaching it within the song itself. Though the lyrics do in fact take some shots at her after she did something to set him off, he’s remarkably calm about it all and it’s that cool indifferent reception to her pleas that makes this song work.

In theory this runs counter to a lot of what we love about rock ‘n’ roll – the unbridled emotion that so often dominates the performances which was rarely allowed to reveal itself in pure pop, jazz and blues. But you need something every once in awhile to offset that trend just so the music doesn’t become predictable by always aiming for the same response.

Milburn’s laconic attitude did that perfectly, showing guys in the rock audience the benefits of always maintaining control over yourself when facing any disappointment in love. He was clearly done wrong here – probably cheated on – yet he’s the one walking away from the girl with his dignity intact, making it seem as if he’s dumping her.

The story may be fairly basic but the message is strong and Amos’s delivery combined with the deceptively surging arrangement carries it home.


No Matter What You Do Or Say
When conveying ideas through words, whether written or spoken – or presumably sung as well – getting to the point quickly and efficiently probably guarantees more people will stick around to the end and take in everything you have to say.

Yet that has to be balanced with providing more depth, more details and more nuance that can only be achieved by expanding beyond the simple “who, what, where and when” rules of reporting.

When it comes to records there are some – like a lot of Bob Dylan’s endless soliloquies – where the point seems to be to see how long you can be strung along before giving up on them entirely – but for the most part songs are kept short for maximum impact and when it comes to radio and jukebox play for ensuring as many spins as possible.

That Was Your Last Mistake – Goodbye doesn’t have any issues in that regard, it clocks in at a crisp three minutes, but when it comes to making a distinct impression at a glance the elongated title can’t have done this much good. The added words don’t add any vital information, they don’t make it flow better and hardly make it any more distinctive. If anything it makes it seem indecisive, unfocused and unimportant.

Like it was a throwaway cut.

Did that impact its popularity? Well, if it did it probably was a subtle. The A-side was something of a waste and if this half didn’t have a catchy title to back up the solid content it just made it easier to replace on the jukeboxes with the steady stream of big records coming out this spring.

So maybe we’re making too much of this… wasting too many words on it ironically… but in music you need to make an impression that is both immediate and lasting and you don’t have a lot of options at your disposal. There’s too many records vying for our attention at any given time to not look for the slightest edge. As such giving it a convoluted title was their first mistake – goodbye.


(Visit the Artist page of Amos Milburn for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)