Listen – Don’t Send Me No Flowers – MP3
I hope everything’s cool on your end.
Things are groovy hereabouts with the Funky16Corners/Iron Leg family preparing to hit the road for a little vacation during which rest and relaxation will be the order of the day. Good times are expected to be had, and if I’m lucky I might even get in a little vinyl excavation. As it stands, I probably won’t get anything new posted (after today) until at least next Tuesday, so if you’re jonesing for some sounds, head on over to the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast Archive and listen to a mix (or two, or three) until I get back.
A few weeks ago over at Funky16Corners I did a post about a slamming funk track that – after quite a bit of digging and a lucky break – I discovered had been written (in 1968) by the very same man who went on to reap AM gold with the song ‘You Light Up My Life’ (the significance being that there’s no telling where life will take you, as well as highlighting the bizarre yin/yang of those two songs).
The tune I bring you today led me down a similarly circuitous path, ending up in pretty much the same place (though a few more years down the line).
I first heard the song ‘Don’t Send Me No Flowers’ back in the mid-80’s during the height of my garage/mod days. That version, by a Memphis, TN band called the Breakers on one of the Pebbles volumes impressed me immediately with it’s potent blend of fuzz and teen garage snot. It was a few years later that a digging expedition yielded the first LP by the Gentrys, another – much more successful – band from Memphis. While listening to that very LP I heard a familiar tune, that being the Gentrys’ version of ‘Don’t Send me No Flowers’. I wondered who had recorded the song first, and as this was years prior to the invention of the interwebs, I remained clueless on this matter (and several others we won’t get into).
So, many years pass, and I start this here blog, and while I was digi-ma-tizing some tunes for inclusion herein I just happened to grab that Gentrys Lp off the shelf.
Now, for those of you that don’t know, the Gentrys hit the Top 40 in 1965 with the tune ‘Keep On Dancing’. Over the next seven years (including a period when the band was dissolved and then reformed) they recorded a few LPs and a number of 45s for MGM, Bell, Capitol and even a late version of Sun (I happen to have the Sun LP and will post something from it in the future).
For the longest time, aside from ‘Keep On Dancing’ the only thing I knew about the Gentrys was that their ranks included a singer named Jimmy Hart, who would go on to even greater fame as professional wrestling “manager” ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart.
So, I get out that Gentrys album, record ‘Don’t Bring me No Flowers’ and decide that the time is long since passed when I ought to get the whole story. The first question was, who was the “Weiss” credited with writing the song. There was no one by that name in the Gentrys, so I assumed (mistakenly, of course) that Weiss must have been someone in the Breakers.
As it turns out, the Gentrys recorded the song first, in 1965, with the Breakers following at least a year later (and around the same time by a Danish group called Sir Henry & his Butlers). A little more digging, and I discovered that the composer of the song was in fact a woman named Donna Weiss.
As it turns out, Weiss was a local Memphis songwriter, who wrote a bunch of other tunes, including the oft recorded ‘Stay With me Baby’ (Walker Brothers, Long John Baldry, Terry Reid, Marmalade), and, some years later with the assistance of Jackie DeShannon, a little number known as ‘Bette Davis Eyes’(?!?).
This was in and of itself (very) surprising, but my initial shock was in discovering that this garage classic had been written by a woman. Garage punk – despite forays into the genre by some excellent female artists, notably the Pandoras – has always been a sound that ran on an amalgam of male chauvinism, fuzz guitar and bug-eyed bad attitude. While Weiss wasn’t the only female composer of a notable garage tune (check out ‘I Ain’t No Miracle Worker’ and ‘I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night’, both written by Nancie Mantz and Annette Tucker), she was fairly anomalous in this respect.
Either way, it’s a great song with an interesting story attached.
See you next week.