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DOT 1144; NOVEMBER 1952



No, no, no… a thousand times no!

Why are you doing this to us? What form of perverse torture are you trying to inflict on us, your most ardent supporters? What have we ever done to deserve this kind of punishment and abuse?

Wait… hold on here… I think I’ve got it.

Sure, this all makes sense now. I’m sorry for lashing out at you when you’re just a victim in all of this too. That’s the real reason, isn’t it, Margie? Dot Records, the label who in a few years will almost single-handedly try and subvert rock’s rise to mainstream prominence with a series of bland white pop cover records, are just giving that dastardly plan an early test run by using YOU as the unwitting guinea pig?

Isn’t that right?… Margie?… Umm, Margie?… Mar…

Oh, I get it… Randy Wood and his stooges are probably watching you from the shadows, aren’t they? Ready to shoot if you start to squawk. Okay, I understand. But we can’t let you suffer like this after all you’ve done for us.

Tellya what. If you want us to help, blink twice, then we’ll cut the lights and make a run for it.


Death By Attrition
Of all of the record labels we gleefully attack on a regular basis around here for their blatant thievery, their short-sighted view of the market and their overall ineptitude, the one that seems like we’re just shooting fish in a barrel to those who know its ultimate legacy is the mostly inconsequential Dot Records.

After all, their greatest claim to fame is in how their embrace of pop in lieu of rock led to the company becoming the first independent label to be purchased by a larger entity, in this case Paramount Pictures, thereby making founder Randy Wood a fortune.

But it didn’t have to turn out that way. Randy Wood could’ve remained a scuffling record executive with dignity instead of a hefty bankroll at the expense of his soul, because when he started Dot Records he had two of the most potent weapons at his disposal as any start-up label ever did… The Griffin Brothers, whose band gave them the perfect studio musicians to back singers like Margie Day, the sassy vocal spitfire who positively glowed when she sang.

It’s not like you can’t say they didn’t reap the rewards of those artists either, as a succession of hits from them got the label off to a great start before Wood’s invasive meddling steered them off course, largely by covering hit records from other fields rather than to concentrate on rock originals.

With Day releasing a series of songs that made absolutely no sense for her to sing, and with Wood compounding his mistakes by billing her singles to The Griffin Brothers with only “Vocals By” designations for Day, it’s easy to see why their initial success quickly dissipated.

Yet here he is again, forcing Day to cover yet another hit in My Story, the only difference being this one was a rock smash in its original incarnation by Chuck Willis rather than a pop or country tune as he’d been favoring prior to this.

No matter the genre though, this was bad enough idea to begin with, but making it worse is the damage it does to Day’s reputation since rock fans are going to want to hear the original. Maybe that’s why Wood decides to give it a pop-styled arrangement behind her, not just to differentiate it from Willis’s but also so that Wood can try and court the audience he REALLY craves… namely the pop music fan who wouldn’t give Margie the time of Day no matter what she did.

Somebody ELSE’S Story!
As much as we deride Randy Wood here, let’s not forget that King Records just did the same thing with the same song when they had Lula Reed cover this too, showing that it was an industry wide infatuation of all companies to horn in on somebody else’s hit.

This is what pop music thrived on for years and since that’s the world these losers like Randy Wood grew up in, that’s the model they strive to emulate, never realizing that one of the things that made rock ‘n’ roll, or for that matter country and blues, so popular over the past few years despite their much smaller demographic reach, was the fact that all three of those genres valued original compositions.

AS an original composition, Chuck Willis delivered a gem with his story, a soulful, heartfelt lament about losing the one he loved… and Lula Reed loved, and now Margie Day loved too! I suppose that means one or more of them are bisexual, which if it was acknowledged openly in either of the covers would’ve greatly improved them, but instead Day, like Reed before her, is forced to try and sound convincing when she’s imitating somebody else while presumably talking about somebody else…

Hah! My Story indeed.

The main problem, as stated, is the arrangement which sacrifices the horns that form the bedrock of Willis’s original, and replaces it with a guitar sounding as if it were serenading someone on Paris’s Left Bank. It’s an example of pop-exotica of the time, trying for a vaguely transporting sound to give an air of worldliness to the production. But that completely corrupts the idea of the actual story, whosever story it is by this point, because the plot is still about losing one close to you that has you distraught and in no mood for this kind of dreamy accompaniment.

It would seem this is not The Griffin Brothers, or else they’re simply not being credited for the first time with Day, but whoever it is are adding absolutely nothing of value here, as the Hollywood charts are so phony that they’d have been better off eliminating the music altogether and having Day sing this acapella because she still does a good job with her role.


That’s the rub here. Day is a great singer who intuitively understands whatever material she’s been given and here the way she slowly builds the despair as this goes along, her voice swelling with pain and a hint of anger directed at herself for her faults in this doomed affair, is really good. But we can barely notice it because the musical backing is from a production piped in from another planet, one completely devoid of life.

Maybe that’s where we should send Randy Wood so he’d feel right at home.

That’s How This Story Always Goes
As alluded to earlier here, as well as countless times over the previous 2,275 or so reviews, among the things that made rock ‘n’ roll so vital to its audience was the sense of authenticity it had. Whether real or just imagined, the impression you got listening to the best rock had to offer was that the situations and sentiments being expressed by the artists were genuine.

Though it may not be the case, it’s easy to imagine that one devastating real life breakup along the way was what inspired My Story and as such the emotions that went with the song belonged to Chuck Willis himself.

But when you break that illusion by having other artists do the same song, we become all too aware that it’s fake. Margie Day probably had her heart broken too, but these were somebody else’s reactions to that scenario, not her own.

Then when those around her couldn’t even treat her fairly credible interpretation of that ordeal with the proper respect because they were trying to entice middle-aged white housewives into buying this single, that’s when you’re reminded the whole business is one built on lies, deception and greed.

Nothing is safe from these types of artistic predators. In 1994 movie studios had the audacity to “remake” the 1947 classic Miracle On 34th Street, a pointless excursion because you can’t possibly improve upon – or come close to even matching – utter perfection. But as long as you can cynically capitalize on something people already know and love, then integrity is the first thing to go.

That’s is why maybe the best way to stop such acts would be if those responsible for these shameless rip-offs woke up Christmas morning and found their own severed foot hanging in their stockings by the chimney with care.

Right next to Randy Wood’s decapitated corpse laying on the hearth.

Now that would be a truly Joyous Yuletide!


(Visit the Artist page of Margie Day for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)

Spontaneous Lunacy has reviewed other versions of this song you may be interested in:
Chuck Willis (August, 1952)

Lula Reed (November 1952)