No tags :(

Share it

SAVOY 780; MARCH 1951



There are two ways to look at this and which you choose probably says more about you than the artist in question.

The first way is to give in to your cynicism and treat this decidedly average B-side of a dazzling debut as a case of water finding its own level, suggesting that Linda Hopkins had merely captured lightning in a bottle on the top side and this modestly good but unexceptional offering was probably more reflective of her long range abilities than the first side was.

The other way you can treat this would be to say that while it was wise to vary the styles from one song to the next, this more demure approach didn’t play to Hopkins’ strengths as much and as a result it’s hardly indicative of her enormous potential and shouldn’t be held against her when assessing her career going forward.

But we’re not making you choose one explanation over the other because the truth of the matter is… both of those views may be accurate.


The Day We Met Was So Heavenly
The concept itself is as solid as a rock… don’t double down on a specific approach on two sides of a single, especially when one side is designed to make a visceral impact upon hearing it.

On the surface it might seem counterproductive to purposefully avoid giving audiences more of a good thing… the very thing that the artist did so brilliantly. When that artist is making her solo debut on record as a secular singer under a new name you’d think you’d WANT to make sure that both sides captured her in her element, doing what she did best, but that’s a double-edged sword.

Doggin’ Blues was the side that was going to “wow” you, but to make an even bigger impression on you it almost had to stand alone… to leave you wanting more but not getting more by simply flipping the record over.

This side had a different purpose in mind altogether, to show you that Linda Hopkins was more than just a powerhouse singer with impeccable control and that was something worth establishing early on.

(How Can I Go On) Living And Loving You dials her down, lets her burrow into a song and because she’s prevented from exerting much force when delivering it, she’s required to flex different creative muscles to put this across.

If it works then she’s immediately stamped herself as a versatile stylist who would theoretically be capable of tackling almost anything and if it doesn’t work, or at least if it only succeeds in moderation, then it still allows her best attributes shown on the other side to bask in the full glare of the spotlight as this more toned down offering would be easily brushed aside to focus on the radiance of the top half of the record.

And to be fair to Hopkins she does more or less wrestle this one to a draw and comes away looking no worse for the wear.


As You Loved One As I Loved You
One of the biggest rock stars to come along over the next few years was Johnny Ace, a Memphis singer, pianist and songwriter who specialized in transforming someone else’s material into entirely new songs by merely keeping the chord changes and the stylistic atmosphere of the older song and coming up with an entirely new melody and lyrics for his own work.

This is hardly as devious or deceptive as it might appear. It happens all the time in creative endeavors, from film and television to music. It may be one step beyond simple inspiration but it pulls up well short of plagiarism.

Anyway, Johnny Ace would also work extensively with Johnny Otis and on their first session together in August of 1953 they cut Saving My Love For You which clearly has its origins in this Linda Hopkins song despite the fact that neither Ace or Otis got credit for writing it but rather someone named Sherman Johnson who registered it in… 1951, after hearing this record no doubt.

Whereas Johnny Ace had the perfect languid vocal delivery to do justice to this kind of song, always looking back at his relationships through a melancholy haze, Hopkins is too restlessly vibrant to feel comfortable downshifting to such a degree. A good way to differentiate between their singing styles is Ace was the master of singing as he exhaled whereas Hopkins was always drawing breath to build up to something bigger.

Yet on Living And Loving You something bigger is not in the cards for her, the song just has no moments where she can emote with the kind of passion she craves. As a result she’s constantly keeping herself under wraps, never straining so hard to break free that she ruins the mood they’ve created, but at the same time she’s not inhabiting the role she’s asked to play as if it were a natural fit.

It’s like driving your grandmother to a doctor’s appointment through crowded city streets in a hot rod. You’ll get there alright but it seems you’re mostly spending your time idling at red lights.

Perhaps You’ll Learn Just What It Means To Be Blue
The delicate nature of the song is exemplified by the extended lead-in on vibes that Johnny Otis provides, putting this in a reflective mindset from the start which requires the kind of vocal moderation that Hopkins struggles to fully grasp.

It’s not that she’s fighting against it per say, but her technique doesn’t lend itself to this kind of quiet introspection, something that’s hardly surprising considering she sang gospel professionally since she was a kid and had a fondness for the blues belters of yore like Bessie Smith.

Living And Loving You was a song that was far more suited for her predecessor in Otis’s outfit, Little Esther, who had a more intuitive jazz-like sensitivity at this stage of their respective careers. In her hands the hurt this song asks its interpreter to express would be offered incrementally as it unfolded and you could better understand the pain it caused for her to reveal this.

Hopkins’ instinct on the other hand is to get it out all at once and deal with it head on which doesn’t work – and she knows it doesn’t work which means she’s artificially trying to hold it back and causing a noticeable tension between the two needs in the process. The song requires one thing and her training suggests another and while they never upend the song, they hardly are compatible either.

It would help of course if the song itself was better written. The lyrics paint a pretty standard picture of enduring heartache but there’s no vivid images to be found, no memorable phrases or poetic lines to serve as a calling card and the scansion of some of the stanzas are pretty poor, forcing Hopkins to try and cram in too many words to fit the musical structure.

Though it’s clearly soulful enough to fit comfortably within the rock ballad aesthetic both in terms of Hopkins performance and the naked expression of emotion in the story, there’s still a few too many hints of jazzy-pop touches in the horns, particularly early on which undercuts the effectiveness of what she’s singing.

Skilled though all involved were, this was a record that none of them ever really got a firm grip on.


How Was I To Know That It Would Be Just One Big Tragedy
Despite its flaws – and its inappropriate nature for a singer of Hopkins ilk – I still say this was a reasonable attempt at giving her something different to tackle and in that regard made for a perfectly acceptable B-side.

No, this was not going to be a record that zoomed up the charts, nor was it going to really impress much on its own, despite Hopkins’ stellar voice which would be apparent singing virtually anything, but in showcasing that voice in a far different manner than she showed on the top side it more or less confirmed her talent even if it should’ve been obvious this approach wasn’t the best way to highlight it.

Sometimes you just have to try on all of the clothes on the rack to see what looks best on you and to that end Living And Loving You was like a bulky coat that didn’t flatter her body even as it kept her warm and dry if she was caught in bad weather.

Not a great analogy, I know, but then again this isn’t a great song so what do you expect? The fact she made it look reasonably fashionable all the same is a testament to what she brought to the table. Had Johnny Otis been able to keep working with her for more than just one session it’s likely being the musical tailor that he was would’ve figured out which outfits made her look radiant every time she stepped out in public.

As for this one, though she might catch your eye for a moment as she passed you’d hope to get another glimpse of her when she had the right material to wrap herself in.


(Visit the Artist page of and Johnny Otis as well as Linda Hopkins for the complete archive of their respective records reviewed to date)