No tags :(

Share it

REGAL 3273; JUNE 1950



Though there’s probably been no official tally of the subject matter used in popular music over the past hundred years it’s a fairly safe bet that the number one topic is male-female relationships.

The bulk of those center around love – the swirl of emotions around falling in and out of love in particular, with ruminations on being blissfully in love between those two events making up most of what’s left over.

But what doesn’t always get the same amount of attention is the messy everyday squabbles between lovers who don’t really love one another any longer but are still clinging to the relationship in some form or fashion, always on the verge of ending it completely but never quite getting up the nerve to do so.

There’s good reason for the avoidance of this aspect of love of course, for it’s neither romantic nor is it likely to arouse any sympathy in listeners like a good breakup song will do, but in spite of that as long as there are people who’ve endured their own bout with a warring partner who like to see someone else suffer these kind of songs will always have a small place in the musical pantheon.


Early In The Morning
Though Paul Gayten and Annie Laurie had been recording together for years as Gayten wrote, played on and produced almost all of Laurie’s material since he hired her as a vocalist for his band in 1947 they hadn’t sung together on record until just recently.

When that first effort, the tremendous I’ll Never Be Free, showed just how compatible they were as a singing duo promptly shot up the charts in the spring it was inevitable that they’d follow it up with another duet to give people one more chance to hear them together.

But it’s doubtful that expectant audience was quite prepared for what awaited them on I Ain’t Gonna Let You In, a record which does a complete 180 from their proclamations of eternal devotion just a few months earlier.

Whether such a radical departure from what came before was a wise move in an era which still believed in strictly adhering to proven formula, or if they felt that it was better to shake up those expectations early before you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of repetitive output with increasingly diminishing returns, isn’t clear.

What IS clear however was that whatever happened to that fictitious love-struck couple we’d met earlier once they departed on their honeymoon must’ve produced some fireworks because things have taken a turn for the worse. Whereas before we were peaking through the blinds to catch a glimpse of amorous affection between the two, now we’re looking out the windows with rapt attention thinking we might see some bloodshed.

Let’s just hope we’re not called to testify should one of them wind up in the morgue.

Keep On Jiving Me
Before you get the idea that this record is bound to be admitted into court as evidence in a murder trial, the contents – while containing a few random threats – are meant to be humorous, not a call for violence.

The song was written by Rudolph Toombs, one of the greatest early 1950’s rock songwriters for hire and while his topics of choice frequently stuck to the seedier side of life – lots of booze, some illicit sex and run-ins with unsympathetic authorities for the most part – we have to assume that he gravitated towards those subjects for a reason.

Now maybe we know why, for on I Ain’t Gonna Let You In he’s clearly got some issues with the fairer sex, as he places Laurie and Gayten on the opposite sides of the door – literally – and has them go at it verbally as Annie makes clear that Paul is no longer welcome in the home they’d shared.

As a concept it’s hardly all that original, but it is promising, especially for someone who’s usually such a good wordsmith as Toombs. Maybe he won’t be able to really vent his hostilities in the manner that’s called for but surely you’re expecting some good barbs and biting criticism.

Unfortunately though he never quite delivers and to be honest I’m not really sure why he sidesteps the most promising topics he had at his disposal. But even though they’re a slight let-down it’s not as if the song’s lyrics are necessarily bad, nor are they compromised because they’re afraid of running afoul of common laws of decency as you may fear considering the era we’re in. But it DOES make the mistake of having most of the underlying reasons of their marital bickering go unstated and merely expects us to fill in the blanks ourselves.

Open The Door
Each of the participants in this verbal tiff does the best job they can with what they’ve been handed and Toombs at least gives us the incident behind this particular battle as Paul shows up at 4 AM, presumably after drinking and/or boinking another woman, which is what sets Annie off when he tries getting in. But instead of taking the premise and building it to absurd proportions that become ever-more comical as the record goes along, Toombs pulls back and makes this nothing more than a battle of wills – her stubbornness versus his insistence – and calls it a day.

Laurie handles all of the singing, framing the story by laying out the barest of plots and then using the title line as the skimpy chorus which serves as the answer to all of Gayten’s demands to have her open the door so he can come in out of the cold.

Paul meanwhile is the one being asked to supply the humor, which he does fairly well, although that stems more from his delivery and tone of voice than the lines themselves, as he keeps interrupting her calmly sung protestations with increasingly desperate spoken asides.

They work well together, making I Ain’t Gonna Let You In sound more like an ongoing drama between the two that we just happened to drop in on and are being brought up to speed over the course of the song. By the sounds of it the same fights are happening every night and they’re both well past being really angry at the other one and are simply trying to hold their ground and not let the other get the upper hand by caving in.

But while the record sounds just fine… even the deep belching horns that open it add to the faintly comic whimsy of it all… there’s little doubt that this could’ve been so much better with simply sharper lyrical wit.

There are so many methods available to elevate this back and forth exchange starting with the most obvious which is to allow Laurie to shoulder half of the humor by making outlandish accusations about Gayten’s activities, maybe accusing him of romancing another woman who is such a swine that they ought to serve her with eggs and toast at the diner. Each criticism would ramp up the outrageousness and cause the listener to wonder if maybe SHE’S not the one who is being unreasonable here and exaggerating her fella’s shortcomings.

Then Gayten’s counter-accusations could do the same, their war of words getting sillier and sillier until it’s obvious they’re actually perfectly matched for one another.

However if you want to keep Laurie as the straight-woman you could simply have her go further than merely refusing to unlock the door and instead have her dump cold water out the window – he tells us there’s a blizzard out there, which if they’re still in New Orleans is quite a meteorological phenomenon – and then have Gayten react in a humorous way to each response she gives.

But instead there’s just the same refrains from Laurie that are met with disgusted replies from Gayten… mildly humorous but not leading to any out and out laughs.

Find Yourself Another Place To Hide
Chalk this one up to a decent concept that falls short through little fault of its primary participants. It sounds good enough on the surface that you’ll tolerate most of the shortcomings just to hear Laurie and Gayten interact, even if the more you think about what might’ve been with some better lyrics the more frustrated you’ll become.

In some ways though that makes I Ain’t Gonna Let You In the worst possible outcome for the duo. Had it been a total dud then they might be less inclined to force-feed them as a tandem in the future unless they had something particularly winning to serve up, yet had it been a great record then with its far different thematic bent compared to their first pairing you’d have had the potential to really let them expand their repertoire together since they’d have shown they could handle any type of material and get a good response.

This however gives us just enough to admire while failing to live up to its potential which probably means they’ll get even more conservative if they’re asked to try again rather than really letting things fly and seeing what magic they could come up with.


(Visit the Artist pages of both Annie Laurie and Paul Gayten for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)