(Written by Dorsey Burnette and Joe Osborn)
The writing was on the wall for Mel-o-dy Records, Motown’s short-lived first foray into the alien world of country music. While Motown’s R&B and pop records were flying off the shelves in ever greater numbers, this was the first Mel-o-dy single in three months, and it was a rush release job, unceremoniously shoved out into the marketplace without much fanfare or love.
Dorsey Burnette had had other things on his mind; his beloved younger brother Johnny Burnette (himself a rockabilly star in his own right) had been killed in a boating accident in August, and the lead vocal here dates from Dorsey’s first recording session since the tragedy. Entirely understandably, the avuncular joie de vivre which has marked out so many of Dorsey’s better Motown cuts to date is missing from Ever Since The World Began – which is a shame, because it’s a weak song crying out for a sympathetic narrator. Dorsey’s heart just isn’t in this, and it shows.
It’s a mechanical, perfunctory run-through of a chugging pop-country number, which needs energy and humour to work, the two commodities Dorsey was obviously not in a position to provide. The pedal steel guitar on this is a nice addition, and there are some briefly thrilling moments when Dorsey cuts free from his bonds and soars (That’s the way life GOES!), and it’s full of joy. Otherwise, this is a repetitive and tiresome plod.
Where it mainly falls flat is the lyrics. This is a generic, sexist, rambling rant – women, eh? Sheesh! What can you do? It’s been like that from day one! – and written down in the cold light of day, it comes over as horribly unsympathetic to its bitter, rejected narrator. For it to have any hope of working at all, it needs to be done with a self-deprecating smile, a recognition that the narrator knows he’s being silly and expects us to go along with it too, a playful rebuke to a woman who he knows may be listening. It needs Shorty Long, or at least an on-form Dorsey Burnette.
Instead, Dorsey settles for making it to the end of the song in the quickest time possible, bouncing off each line with his feet barely touching the ground, leaving so little impression that his voice has to be bolstered in the verses (either through another singer or through double-tracking, I can’t tell).
Not awful, but certainly not one to savour; if, given the circumstances, it’s understandably forgettable, it’s also advisedly forgettable.
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!)
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