The Trick Is To Keep Going

Come and get more of the incomparable Jackie DeShannon

by on Apr.19, 2011, under Music


When the first of Ace Records’ Jackie DeShannon retrospectives came out in 2009 chronicling all of her singles releases, I didn’t pick up on it immediately. By the time I did it was well into 2010, but I would have easily included it in my Best of 2009 as an archive release.

Jackie DeShannon Come And Get MeI already owned quite a bit of vinyl and most of her CD releases that have slowly become available during the digital age. I figured I had almost everything on it.

But when I finally picked up You Won’t Forget Me: The Complete Liberty Singles, Volume 1, it revealed not only an impressive and accurate chronology of her singles, but also B-sides and several cancelled releases all in mono as they had been originally released.

The set put things in perspective because even though I’ve been aware of DeShannon since I first was hooked by her version of Needles & Pins in 1963 and the follow-up, her own penned classic When You Walk In The Room, putting together her career at times has been confusing.

Ace’s second installment of the planned three-part series, Come And Get Me: The Complete Liberty and Imperial Singles, Volume 2  has recently been released and it is again a stellar issue.

The release shows off DeShannon’s prodigious skills as one of our greatest songwriters, singers, as well as an outstanding interpretive singer of other writers’ material, and to some extent pop icon. Although if you could somehow be an overlooked and under-appreciated icon, DeShannon fits the bill.

Despite huge global success with tunes such as Burt Bacharach’s What The World Needs Now Is Love and her own Put A Little Love in Your Heart, she is not that well-known to the general public. She is, however, an icon to musicians in the industry who either came up alongside her or followed her and are fully appreciative of her stature. That goes for her long-time fans as well.

One could conclude Deshannon was mishandled by Liberty, of which Imperial — the label she was eventually moved to — was a subsidiary in the 1960s, because of all the career shifts and changes in musical direction they made for her. But I love her take on it. She was willing to try anything. She fought for her own songs being placed on her albums. And no matter what the record company and producers threw at her, she always pulls it off.

The first volume covered 1960 with Teach Me to 1964 with two cancelled releases from ’64 and ’65. The second volume picks up in 1964 with Oh Boy! and I’m Lookin’ For Someone To Love, both tunes previously recorded by Buddy Holly, to take advantage of the Beatles phenomenon, and runs through the 1967 promo only I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do, all in mono.

Jackie DeShannon What The World SmallIn between, we get a plethora of gems, including a faster mix of When You Walk In The Room, the gospel traditional He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands, produced by Jack Nitzsche, the mega-hit What The World Needs Now Is Love, along with another Bacharach tune that was originally cancelled despite a beautiful performance, A Lifetime Of Loneliness, two writing collaborations with Randy Newman and the recordings she made in England with art school student and already established session player Jimmy Page on acoustic guitar, including Don’t Turn Your Back On Me, backed with the Nitzsche collaboration Be Good Baby.

Page also played on Marianne Faithfull’s version of Jackie’s Come And Stay With Me and Page and Deshannon wrote songs that were recorded by a number of British artists as well as American Barbara Lewis.

Also included is a track the Byrds play backup on, Splendour In The Grass, released in 1966. It first appeared as part of her rejected folk demos LP that also included Don’t Doubt Yourself Babe, which the Byrds included on their first album Mr. Tambourine Man.

DeShannon’s versatility is never more obvious than with producer Calvin Carter, assigned by Imperial, with the resulting Are You Ready For This? album, which includes a number of girl-group oriented tracks, including the Shirelles’ Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. The title track is a perfect early ’60s take on the girl-group phenomenom. I recall being completely floored by the DeShannon tune on first hearing it on vinyl a number of years back.

The disc, which has 26 tracks, is packed with vibrant, proficient pop music that shows off the many sides of DeShannon in the ’60s as well as being a well-researched history lesson of her early career. It’s all meticulously annotated in an essay by Peter Lerner, Mick Patrick and Tony Rounce.

There are few singer-songwriters in our culture that measure up to Jackie DeShannon. She’s a treasure and this release only enhances that.

Another view from Jackie DeShannon's and George Harrison's Monopoly game from the 1964 Beatles' Tour.

Another view from Jackie DeShannon's and George Harrison's Monopoly game from the 1964 Beatles' Tour.

Jackie DeShannon in a recent photo.

Jackie DeShannon in a recent photo.

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15 Comments for this entry

  • Gary Gillman

    I’m a long-time rock music fan and while I’ve known the name Jackie DeShannon since the late 60’s, only recently did I realize she wrote and first performed When You Walk In The Room. I was more familiar earlier with the Searchers’ version and to my mind her original is much better, more stirring and emotional.

    I was wondering who played the ringing guitar line in that song, would you know? I would think it was an influential sound since the Byrds, Searchers and Beatles songs which feature the Rickenbacker 12 string sound (or guitars played in that style) all came after I think. I am not a musician and don’t know how to classify it except I would say it sounds like folk to me, folk electrified. I can’t think of any song before When You Walk In The Room that had that sound, but maybe there was. It’s such a unique song in other ways too, kind of a fusion of rock and roll, folk, soul and even country perhaps (elements of the vocal).

    I enjoyed your comments on her career and these retrospective releases, which I’ll try to find. Thanks for any information on this.

    Gary

  • Gary Gillman

    Thanks for printing my question, and I thought I’d clarify it by stating that DeShannon’s recording of Needles And Pins did (I know) precede her recording of When You Walk In The Room. Both however feature that stately, chiming guitar sound, a sound that (to me) was later echoed in songs like the Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man or the Beatles’ What You’re Doing or Ticket To Ride. So I guess I’m really asking if anyone knows who the guitar player(s)were on those great songs by Ms. DeShannon. Thanks again.

    Gary

  • Paul Rosano

    Hi Gary,
    Right. That’s what I thought of also. Needle And Pins preceded it and also has the same guitar sound and a similar figure. Both were released in 1963. DeShannon mentions in the notes to the above release that she was working on a song with Jack Nitzsche in the studio, which was Needles And Pins, when Sonny Bono joined the session. She didn’t receive a writing credit on the tune though she deserved one. As far as who played guitar? I haven’t been able to find that anywhere yet. Probably a session player for Liberty but not sure. Thanks for the comments.
    Paul

  • Gary Gillman

    Thanks Paul. I always find it fascinating that many signature sounds in early pop music were played by people who were session players and therefore are not well remembered.

    I liked by the way your reminiscences of the concerts you saw in the 1960’s especially Cream and Jimi Hendrix Experience, two key bands I never saw. I was interested in particular in your recollection of the volume level of these shows. I am sure had Jimi lived he would have developed tinnitus within another 10 years or so. Even on CD (I mean the live work) you can often get how incredibly loud those shows were. The Eddie Kramer-mixed 4 CD Winterland set released last year is a superb tribute to Jimi’s live sound and genius, I am sure you have it, and his live sound was never presented better than on that CD IMO.

    Gary

  • Paul Rosano

    Gary,
    I’ve verified, via the Steve Hoffman forum, that Jackie stated in an interview that she wrote the riff for When You Walk In The Room and Glen Campbell played it. Not sure about Needles And Pins, but I have seen a quote from Nitzsche where he says he had the riff for a long time. Wonder if that’s true or it’s a collaboration with Jackie, who said she was working on that song with Jack when Sonny Bono walked in.

    Also, I found a quote where Jackie says she had the best, Glen Campbell and James Burton, to work with for guitar players. She was noting this when expressing skepticism about using a young Jimmy Page in England for some sessions.

    As far as the volume question. It was literally defeaning in some situations where a hall or room’s acoustics were all wrong for Rock ‘n Roll, such as Woolsey Hall at Yale. Cream was very loud there, Jimi was excruitiating at times, particularly when he used his wah-wah to get a boost in high end. In contrast, Cream was not overwhelmingly loud at Oakdale, which is partially outside, or the Supermarket, despite it being mostly hard surfaces. They were loud of course but nothing like those hard-surfaced halls. Of couse although the amplification was probably comparable to today, the PA systems were not. I would say overall, concerts are much louder today because of that.

  • Gary Gillman

    Thanks very much for this, Paul, very interesting.

    When I was listening again to DeShannon’s recording of Needles and Pins, the fills after each vocal line are similar to what you hear in When You Walk In The Room. But listening to it more closely, one can see they are mixed lower and also, I’m not sure the lines are actually single notes on a guitar, or all of them. Some of the fills seem played on piano, some by a rhythm guitar, and some even by a deftly handled (vocal) chorus.

    What is clear I think is that the ringing 12 string guitar sound so famous in mid-60’s rock is first clearly heard on When You Walk In The Room. And now more directly to your reply, it seems therefore Glen Campbell is the one, and what player he was of course. I thought it might be Tommy Tedesco, who put out an album (I since found out rooting around on the Internet) called the Electric 12 String Guitar on the Imperial Label, I think in 1965. So if he was adept on the instrument at this general time, I thought it might have been him on When You Walk In The Room. But it sounds like Glen Campbell played it, if she said that, it must be so. There is some excellent rhythm playing too there, it is alternating fills of single notes and incisive ryhthm guitar, the same instrument (performance) I think. I don’t know enough about James Burton to guess if it was him. Tedesco’s style on the 12 string, e.g. on the Bonanza theme song (you can hear it on youtube) seems a little different to me than what you hear on When You Walk In The Room, although of course with skilled players like these you never really can be sure, but if she said Campbell played it, that makes sense to me. His playing e.g. on Rhinestone Cowboy – or rather I should say I assume he played on his own track – seems somewhat similar to the playing on When You Walk In The Room.

    On volume, you must be right that due to PAs it is louder today, all bands are, whereas then it was just a few, Cream, Jimi and foremost The Who. Volume is, or was, very important though for a certain kind of rock music, it was a catylyst to their sound, it made it that much better although the elements were there without it, e.g. in Townshend’s acoustic playing. Good review BTW of his Empty Glass, it was by far his best solo album, IMO.

    Gary

  • Paul Rosano

    Hi Gary,
    Yes, the lines are very similar. When You Walk In The Room is a little more involved and slightly more difficult to play. According to Nitzsche on Needles And Pins it wasn’t a 12-string. He said he overdubbed six strings multiple times to get a fat sound. I’m not sure if it was the same approach on When You Walk In The Room. If you’re not familiar with it, check out Feel A Whole Lot Better by The Byrds. It’s yet another variation on this riff. Love all three songs.
    Paul

  • Gary Gillman

    Thanks Paul and I’ll listen to those tonight. (I do know that Byrds song of course). There is the rhythm and plucking sound of the famous 12 string Rickenbacker guitar in mid-60’s rock but it’s the plucking or lead sound that created that “sound” we’re discussing I think. (Still the “thrashing” sound of rhythm chords on a Rickenbacker had its own influence for a time, it’s another aspect of the story of that guitar).

    Interesting about 6 string guitars being overdubbed on some songs – I think there are two playing simultaneously on the Searchers’ version of Needles and Pins for example, and I guess you can emulate the 12 string sound in other ways. If anything, maybe the 12 string was resorted to to emulate the sound of multiple 6 strings without overdubbing or as much overdubbing, but that’s just a speculation.

    I guess it’s all building blocks…

    I was in the car with my wife going to dinner last night and Randy Bachman’s show on Canadian radio happened to come on. He was talking about the 12 string guitar and how it made the transition from folk to rock in this same period so my ears perked up, but he was focusing (or at least when I was listening) on the acoustic guitar, not the electric one. He mentioned the important influence of Walk Right In, Sit Right Down and then played it (what a great song, it was very well-produced for the time). But the acoustic and electric guitars are very different and no less so than for 12 strings, so no insight there…

    By the way Glen Campbell had his own 12 string electric guitar album in the mid-60’s (I’ve since discovered), he was playing with the Bandits, a trio of himself and fellow studio aces Hal Blaine and Larry Knechtel. I heard a couple of excepts om youtube, nothing that really sounded like the playing on When You Walk In The Room but that is neither here nor there since he was playing in different styles on that album and I only heard a couple of songs. One is very country, another is more R&B. I was always a big fan of Glen Campbell so it’s gratifying to learn he played what became a signature sound on When You Walk In The Room!

    Gary

  • Gary Gillman

    Just heard Feel A Whole Lot Better (what a great song!). It combines the rhythmic and lead elements I was mentioning but it is the latter – the plucking sound – that defined the classic 60’s Rick sound IMO. You hear it most clearly in the break in the song and the outro, but the right channel (i.e., in stereo) features it too in fills throughout the song.

    But once again, that sound started in DeShannon’s recording of When You Walk In The Room. Elements are in the earlier Needles and Pins but the full blown electric Rickenbacker sound seems fully realised on When You Walk In The Room. Campbell incidentally played on a number of albums in the mid-60’s that featured the 12 string guitar – the last one was entitled the Electric 12 String Guitar – so no acoustic stuff – and some of the music by then sounds Byrds-like (per examples on youtube). But I’m now convinced that Campbell really started it all unless an earlier example of this sound – played on that guitar – shows up.

    Gary

  • Gary Gillman

    Paul, an additional note if I may: according to this history, Rickenbacker gave the second 12 string guitar it built to George Harrison in Feb. 1964:

    http://rickenbackerguitars.net/rickenbackerhistory.htm

    This makes me wonder if those great lines on When You Walk In The Room, recorded I believe in Nov. 1963, were played on a 12 string guitar, Rickenbacker’s or someone else’s (Danelectro had one out at the time I understand). You have pointed out that DeShannon’s Needles and Pins used 6 string guitars. Maybe When You Walk In The Room did too. But I guess my point is that the sound of the plucked guitar(s) on When You Walk In The Room is what defined a sound later exemplified by Roger McGuinn – or it’s an opinion anyway based on what I’ve heard to date.

    Gary

  • Paul Rosano

    I would say listening closely to the lead line on When You Walk In The Room, it’s definitely a 12-string, but probably not a Rickenbacker. It could have been any number of makes. I believe Gibson had one as well but I’d have to check. I had thought of the Harrison-McGuinn connection since I’d heard about it before. I would say McGuinn and The Byrds were definitely aware of the 12-string sound in When You Walk In The Room since they had a connection to DeShannon, but he definitely got one because of Harrison and his use of it on Ticket To Ride. So although in a general sense Jackie and Glen had a big overall impact in regards to the sound/compositions/production of that era, McGuinn likely was more influenced by The Beatles using it as he and the rest of The Byrds loved what The Beatles were doing. In fact, I recall him saying just that somewhere, possibly the Byrds biography by Johnny Rogan.

  • Gary Gillman

    I would only add that in my opinion, the Searchers’ covers of Needles and Pins (1963) and When You Walk In The Room (1964) had a definite effect on the Beatles adoption of “that sound”. I believe the Searchers did use a 12 string guitar on When You Walk In The Room but not on Needles and Pins, still, the latter’s twinned 6 strings had a somewhat similar effect to a 12 string. Sometimes it is an “intermediate” influence, often a cover, which affects people most later, but the structure of the folk-rock 12 string sound is very clear from DeShannon’s When You Walk In The Room so her and Campbell still are true innovators in this regard I think unless an earlier tune by another artist pops up with that electric guitar sound, but I can’t think of any!

    Gary

  • Craig Denmead

    I never realized how beautiful she is!!

  • Craig Denmead

    I have never realized how beautiful she still is!!!

  • Paul Rosano

    Indeed, she is quite beautiful.

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