Mel-o-dy RecordsMel-o-dy 113 (A), May 1964

b/w Cold As Usual

(Written by Dorsey Burnette and Joe Osborn)

Scan kindly provided by Gordon Frewin, reproduced by arrangement.  All label scans come from visitor contributions - if you'd like to send me a scan I don't have, please e-mail it to me at fosse8@gmail.com!After a brief pop digression with Bruce Channel’s Satisfied Mind, Mel-o-dy Records heads back to country and western territory with Dorsey Burnette – a bona fide rockabilly legend, former member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio and later an inductee of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame (who knew there was such a thing? Not me, that’s for sure.) My knowledge of this scene is shaky at best, but the material suggests Motown pulled off something of a coup in luring Burnette to their country subsidiary label.

This starts out in baffling fashion, a cold open featuring nothing but a bashed tambourine and a menacing series of finger-snaps for a few bars. Then, enter Dorsey, doing a call-and-response vocal with bass and guitars:

A little squirrel
Found an acorn
And buried it
Down deep in the ground

It’s weird, plonky and plodding, and slightly dispiriting. It gets worse, too, the lyrics degenerating into a simplistic, annoying hymnal along the lines of “The House that Jack Built”, detailing how that acorn grew into a tree, and the tree gave wood for a house, and the house housed a young couple who had a baby, and only God can make a tree, or something.

But Dorsey’s voice is friendly and engaging, and I find him strangely likeable, for some reason; while this is definitely more in the country bag than Bruce Channel’s effort, there’s still a certain pop sensibility to this. By the time we get to the chorus, with a big swoon of horns and female backing vocals, then – Dorsey’s whiter-than-white rockabilly delivery and Southern twang aside – there’s not a vast gulf between this and the likes of, say, Eddie Holland’s I Couldn’t Cry If I Wanted To, or any of Motown’s records cut with white radio in mind.

I’m overselling this – the verses are schlocky and twee, and the whole thing lacks bite – but Burnette is palpably enjoying himself a great deal, and his avuncular enthusiasm is infectious enough to paper over some of the giant, yawning cracks in this song. Eh, what can I say, I’ve got a sneaking soft spot for this in spite of almost everything about it. Don’t take that as a recommendation – but nor is it a savage kicking.



(I’ve had MY say, now it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, or click the thumbs at the bottom there. Dissent is encouraged!)

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Stevie Wonder
“This Little Girl”
Dorsey Burnette
“Cold As Usual”


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