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KING 4507; FEBRUARY 1952



With every day comes a night at no added cost.

For many the night is a time of magic and wonder… a veritable playground for decedent fun that comes in all shapes and sizes.

But songs with this particular title – of which there have been many – tend to view night differently. A lot of these nights are spent alone rather than in a crowd, they’re not filled with optomistic joy but rather somber contemplation and the darkness that envelops you can be far more ominous than enthralling.

Since Wynonie Harris spent so many of his nights wide awake, usually in the company of a bevy of beauties with plenty of booze to keep them all well lubricated, you’d think this would be a song he couldn’t relate to. But when the girls passed out and the bottles all ran dry, even he might’ve had a little time for some sober reflection of what he’d lost since the sun went down on him.


I Wish I Wasn’t All Alone
Before getting into the song we should probably focus on the number first, as in King Records’ catalog number – 4507.

I’m sure for many this is not very meaningful – and in normal circumstances where just listening to the music takes precedence over writing about it, it wouldn’t be for me either – but we again have to address the fact that King Records was issuing things out of order due to one of the more frustrating habits of all labels at the time… the shallow quest for cover record hits.

Like a lot of companies King would have their pending releases scheduled well in advance, assign them catalog numbers and have the labels printed up and records pressed, with new batches coming out every six weeks or so.

But multiple times during the second half of 1951 King rushed an artist into the studio to hastily cover a rising hit and then gave it the next available number – one falling well after records that still hadn’t even hit the market yet – and rush-released it to try and captalize on the popularity of the original while it was still fresh.

They did it with Tiny Bradshaw on T-99, meaning it came out months before his earlier scheduled I’m A Hi-Ballin’ Daddy and then in the final weeks of 1951, having just put out The Swallows fantastically suggestive It Ain’t The Meat, they issued a second Swallows single just a few days later when they had them cover the pop hit Tell Me Why which got the number 4515.

In both cases, Bradshaw and The Swallows, they did admirable jobs on songs well-outside their own stylistic niche, but not only didn’t they get hits out of them but in the process they may have cost themselves hits with their original records that promptly got lost in the shuffle.

The other unfortunate side effect of that might’ve been just clerical when it comes to putting all these records in historical context, but Here Comes The Night – along with a host of other singles soon to be reviewed – appear to be out of order, or even that they were afterthoughts.

Luckily Wynonie Harris didn’t think of this atypical song as an afterthought to be kept shrouded in the dark.


My Baby Said Goodbye
What Wynonie Harris did well, he did often. What he struggled with vocally, with a few exceptions, he wisely tended to avoid.

This however meant that Harris’s records generally took one of two approaches. The more popular was the uptempo lusty shouting performances, usually centered on sex, booze and bravado, while the slightly slower tunes offered him a chance to dial down his ego, even though his voice rarely fell beneath a dull roar.

Consequently you tend to overlook the fact that on many of those songs Harris is perfectly embodying an image that runs counter to his dominant persona, yet because he sings it in full voice the message sometimes can be obscured.

That’s a shame because the story that Henry Glover came up with on Here Comes The Night places Harris in the unlikely situation of wallowing in misery over a lost love, giving him the chance to expound on a subject far outside his wheelhouse.

His despondent cries over not wanting to be alone, a situation he probably hadn’t encountered since reaching puberty, sound genuine enough and the colorful itinerary of his cross-country journey, presumably trying to stay ahead of the setting sun, is amusing without trying to be too funny, all of which makes this a lot more memorable than usual woe-is-me scenarios involving hard-up men bemoaning their lack of companionship.

The tinkling piano, softly moaning horns and slowly throbbing pace add the right atmosphere and knowing that Harris was going crank up the volume more than was usually recommended for such songs, Glover made sure to actually take advantage of that by writing louder horn transitions between each stanza so that Wynonie’s more declarative expressions of sadness didn’t flip the meaning of the song in the process.

It’s hardly a hit sound they’re pursuing here but Todd Rhodes and company know how to deliver what’s needed while staying out of the way as well as any band and as long as Harris doesn’t break character before the sun rises the song is going to connect with most of those in the audience staring at an empty pillow alongside them in bed.

Please Have Mercy On Me
Maybe it was just coincidence… or perhaps it was a conscious attempt to double-down on a similar theme for both halves of this single so one side didn’t contradict the other outright… but the thought of Wynonie Harris standing around in the middle of night without his pants around his ankles while girls squealed in his ear might take some getting used to.

On My Playful Baby’s Gone he may have been surrounded by a much more ebullient track but that only went so far in distracting you from his predicament which found his girl running around on him while he appeared impotent to do much about it.

Meanwhile on Here Comes The Night his situation has gotten even more dire as his girl has now left him altogether and instead of scouring the bars and alleys for a suitable replacement he’s left to moan about it.

Now you could read into this what you wanted regarding his diminishing potency, and to be fair it’s still a good bet his sexual vitality will bounce back after some time off, but one thing seemed certain listening to this single… the Wynonie Harris of popular lore was at risk of no longer being the biggest stud in town and how he reacted to this changed outlook, both in real life and on record, was going to show just how good of an artist he was.

He gets the job done here, but it was obvious that while it may not yet be nightfall for Harris’s legend, dusk was approaching all the same.


(Visit the Artist page of Wynonie Harris for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)