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Wait a minute… didn’t we just review this song a few months back?

Come to think of it, didn’t we just hear this artist singing ANOTHER song even more recently… just a few weeks ago?

What’s going on? Are we stuck in some weird time loop or something?

Oh no, never mind, I forgot this is what happens on a fairly regular basis in the record industry where every joyful unexpected surprise leads to a callous calculated move to cynically capitalize on your response.

Carry on then!


I’m Wondering Where Did You Go
We’ll cut to the chase (and keep overusing words that begin with the letter C in the process) by only briefly reminding you that Johnny Ace, singer and pianist out of Memphis, had just released one of rock’s most brilliant and successful debuts on Duke Records when My Song came out this past June.

When the start-up label run by local disc-jockey David Mattis couldn’t handle the flood of orders the record received he turned to Houston’s Don Robey, owner of Peacock Records, to beef up distribution, going partners with him which proved to be exactly what the Ace single needed to soar to the top of the charts.

That’s when the trouble began and Robey muscled in on Mattis and eventually pushed him out of his own company… but that’s a sordid story for another day.

The first sign of trouble should’ve been when Robey rushed in his newly minted female star on Peacock, Marie Adams, who just scored her own breakthrough with the terrific I’m Gonna Play The Honky Tonks, and had her cut a cover version of Ace’s rising hit.

Never mind that it had the potential to cut into the sales of the single he just invested in, which in turn might’ve left both versions struggling to climb higher, but it also sort of negated the image that Johnny had managed to invest in his original.

After all, how could Adams claim “this is My Song” when it’s the same song as Ace’s? The personal investment in the lyrics that was such a selling point of the tune were almost being dismissed by even trying such a thing.

Then there’s the fact that Robey was also more or less ditching Adams’s He’s My Man, which came out all of about three weeks earlier!

But in the record business all of this makes perfect sense. In one fell swoop potentially undercutting his new shooting star, hobbling his existing star and muddying the waters for the biggest hit he’d been associated with to date.

It’s a musical trifecta from hell even though Adams will do her best to convince us otherwise.

And So I Sing (Somebody Else’s) Song
Okay, we’ve already touched upon the fact that the way in which Johnny Ace seemed to be singing these words from his heart was the record’s biggest selling point and now Marie Adams is being told essentially to sing those same words from HER heart as if she was experiencing the exact same feelings.

Who really expects this to work?

Oh that’s right, the entire record industry does since this was their game plan for all of their pop acts for years now! When looking back at the early 1950’s pop scene we take that shallow insincere artistry for granted but when it happens in rock we tend to cringe because we know these imitators are lacking the very thing that made the original stand out and this is no exception.

Making it even more difficult is the fact that Adams doesn’t have the easiest task to begin with here as the slow melody that just barely inches along under its own power has to be adhered to unless they want to make it all but unrecognizable.

Truthfully that’d have at least been a bolder move to make it in march tempo or something, but instead Adams is left to tinker with the pace around the margins and in the process she shows how futile it was to mess with perfection. Her first attempt to do so – putting a little hitch between the words “hours” and “seems” trips your ears up so to speak and the very next line “So I sing My Song” she compounds this mistake by altering the melody just enough to throw you off on the last two words.

So here’s my advice: Right now just turn it off. Pull the plug on the record machine and throw the disc out the window – hopefully clunking Don Robey in the head as he walks by. Wash your hands of the whole experience and come back tomorrow for something new.

It’s not that Adams can’t sing. She’s got a great voice and excellent control, but it’s a losing battle on this unless she mimics every last breath Johnny Ace took and no self-respecting singer wants to do that.

Which means the one area that they DO have the possibility of making this sound somewhat fresh is in the arrangement. Remember, the Ace recording came from a hasty make-shift session with a quick head arrangement, Johnny accompanying himself on piano with Earl Forest’s light drumming and Billy Duncan’s sax acting as a melodic echo. It was the ideal minimalist production for such a dreamy song.

So what can Robey possibly do to change that and still make the lyrics connect? Well, not much really, and he doesn’t really try either, other than to give it a slightly more elegant upscale arrangement from Cherokee Conyer’s band with a needlessly florid piano and some stale strings.

Adams tries her best to overwhelm them as she gets more into it, but the limitations of the song itself forces her to tone things down and that’s where she gets pulled under, never to resurface… much like her subsequent career on Peacock.

Please Tell Me What Is Wrong
Okay, I will.

(You DO read the headings to these sections, right?)

Virtually everything is wrong here, from the decision to cover it in the first place to the more flowery arrangement they stick on it and the fact that it’s not a composition that can tolerate many adjustments and still work its magic.

Dinah Washington also cut a cover that was out at this time and though her adjustments had more to do with her distinctive vocal traits than anything, it still wasn’t up to snuff, but at least was aiming at a slightly different audience that may have appreciated the more ostentatious pop touches to the arrangement.

Years from now Aretha Franklin tackled this, long after the time when most in her audience were aware of Ace’s original firsthand. She smartly changed up the arrangement instrumentally, adding an organ, giving it a more prominent beat while keeping the same pace and beefing up the horns. She tweaked it as much as you can while still remaining recognizable and of course she’s got a voice that not even Adams can match, but even that wasn’t enough to make it stand out, proving that everybody, two Queens included, should’ve believed Johnny when he stated plainly that this was My Song… not theirs, not anybody else’s.

So the failure of record we have before us today – as well as its mere existence – sure isn’t Marie Adams’ fault by any means. She did what she was told and did it as well as she could and if not for her vocal prowess we’d knock this down another point and really stick it to Robey for his stupidity.

But even the shame and ignominy of threatening him with the lowest possible score wouldn’t deter such a man, nor anyone else in an industry where music wasn’t art, it wasn’t personal, it wasn’t meaningful, it was merely product. Worthless vapid product.

Thankfully this is one product that found no buyers.


(Visit the Artist page of Marie Adams for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)

Spontaneous Lunacy has reviewed other versions of this song you may be interested in:
Johnny Ace (June, 1952)