B-side of Little Acorn
(Written by Dorsey Burnette)
In contrast to the rockabilly stylings and muted pop sensibilities of the A-side, Little Acorn, this is some proper hardcore Country & Western right here – just Dorsey and his acoustic guitar for two and a half minutes, no other accompaniment whatsoever, a two-chord solo campfire lament. In its own strange little way, this is among the most confrontational records Motown ever released.
It’s a sorry tale of financial disaster, something along the lines of Johnny Cash’s Busted, as Dorsey’s narrator runs down his money troubles, the sparse backing focussing attention on his lyrical woes. It’s surprisingly bleak in places – “Man, I can’t afford to die” – and Dorsey comes over as an unexpectedly sympathetic character actor, his Southern drawl a wee bit forced and self-conscious in places but generally engaging and likeable.
Spring has sprung
Fall has fell
And it’s cold as…. usual
The liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 4 make a lot of play about how this joke no longer works, shorn of a context when saying “hell” on the radio was a complete no-no, but I still think it’s funny. And it’s easy enough to reconfigure for a 2011 audience; just imagine the second line is Autumn’s struck or something.
Dorsey’s delivery, sweetly self-deprecating in the face of the lyrics (every line of this song seems to practically scream for a maudlin, mawkish performance, but Dorsey, who actually wrote it, avoids trite sentimentality for something more along the lines of the Johnny Cash song – yep, I’m screwed alright – and wins big as a result), raises the material far above where it should be.
Not a masterpiece by any means, but it’s sweet and funny, and it took a certain amount of balls on Motown’s part to release it at all, so it’s okay by me. These two sides have certainly made me mark Dorsey out as one to watch, and that’s the last thing I’d expected going in.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
(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!)
You’re reading Motown Junkies, an attempt to review every Motown A- and B-side ever released. Click on the “previous” and “next” buttons below to go back and forth through the catalogue, or visit the Master Index for a full list of reviews so far.
(Or maybe you’re only interested in Dorsey Burnette? Click for more.)
“You’re Just Like You”
|Motown Junkies presents the finest Motown cuts, big hits and hard to find classics.
Listen to all past episodes here.