Check out my other blog entry for background on the talented Jackie DeShannon.
This chick could do anything.
She could write, play, sing, perform and was easy on the eye and yet big time success in the music industry had eluded her since the early 1960s. There was a hiccup (a major one) in 1965 when she recorded Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "What the World Needs Now Is Love", which led to regular appearances on television and went to # 7 on the US charts. She decided, though, to concentrate on song writing whilst still continued putting out albums and singles.
1969 proved to be the year when everything came together.
Her recording of "What the World Needs Now Is Love" was being used in the 1969 box office hit film "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and she wrote recorded and released as a single, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart".
It went to #4 in the charts in the US and was a hit around the world (#1 South Africa, #12 Canada)
Much has been written about the song. It was a hit then and has been covered many times since. As Jackie has said, "A lot of people still know that song. It came out at a time when we were all trying to make things better in this world. Everybody was sort of pulling together. I believe around that time I put together a show. I did the Copa in New York and some other major places. I did quite a lot of touring with that song. I went to a lot of places where I would just ask people off the street, or if I was doing a show and I was early, I would ask someone that was setting up tables, "Have you ever heard the song 'Put a Little Love In Your Heart'?" And they'd always say, 'Oh, yeah.' I think it's been recorded by over 60 artists. Mahalia Jackson did a great job on it. Annie Lennox and Al Green weren't too bad either. I'm thrilled with everyone that recorded the song. It was in a Smart Balance commercial for the last two years. Someone called me and told me it was done on American Idol. It's definitely the gift that keeps on giving".
But, what is clear is that the song was just one song on the album. This is borne out by the fact that all the songs (most of) are written by DeShannon in collaboration with Randy Myers (her younger brother) and Jimmy Holiday. This was a collaborative effort. Jackie goes on to say about the song, "I was just writing for this album that was up and coming, and that was one of the songs. My brother Randy was playing this little riff and I said, "Gee, I really like that riff, that's great." All of a sudden, "Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand, put a little love in your heart," came just like that. I owe some of that to my mom, because she was always saying that people should put a little love in their heart when things are not so good. I'd like to say it was very difficult, but it was one of those songs you wait a lifetime to write".
A lot of music is about timer and place, And 1969 was the right time to be singing about peace and love if you were a white female vocalist with a bit of soul and funk in your style.
The producers, I suspect, wanted an album akin to Dusty Springfield or Petula Clark who were doing well with their (English, though recorded in the US) versions of white southern soul or perhaps something sassier with the equally successful country soul of Southern belles Bobbie Gentry and Jeannie C Riley.
But, Jackie DeShannon's musical tastes were a lot broader than that. This girl from Kentucky had been in California since the early 60s and had brought her Kentucky stylings there but had been exposed to surf music, British invasion, Hollywood pop, folk rock and just about everything else. She couldn't serve up an album straight which is perhaps a blessing and a curse. The blessing is we can see her scope and ambition, the curse is that sometimes a producer can give you a cohesive whole. I prefer the former but easy dollars come in with the latter.
In any event this may have been a moot point. Jackie again, "You have to remember that I, being a woman at that time, did not have the kind of leverage that young women today have. They go in, they own their publishing, they're the producer, they're the writer, they're everything. In those days, I would go in with producers and they would agree with me before we got in the studio about the vision of the song. Then we would get in the studio and they'd change it all around and if you said anything, you were being difficult. Now the more difficult you are, the more they respect you. But it was hard to get that respect. I was producing demos all the time, but when I went in the studio with many, many different producers, a lot of things fell apart because it wasn't my vision. Having a hit certainly helped in the short term, but you have to remember, there's a heckuva lot of songwriters around and a lot of politics. A lot of different things that the public probably isn't even aware of that go on with getting songs in this movie, and getting songs in that television show. It's not just Oh, let's sit down and pick the best thing".
And here I think the producers won out. The album is straight southern soul which DeShannon can pull off but I don't think here heart is in every song. The production is a little thin sometimes also. Some of the quirky DeShannon should have been allowed through (there is nothing of the singer songwriter she had already touched on and would be recording within the year) and she should have been given to someone like Chips Moman for production (which they were trying to emulate).
The single did well but the album tanked.
The album is produced by Vitale & McWhorter Enterprises which is a production company formed by the partnership of George Vitale and Dargin McWhorter.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Put A Little Love In Your Heart – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday, Randy Myers) – A great song. Of its times but undeniably catchy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Put_a_Little_Love_in_Your_Heart
- You Are The Real Thing – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday, Randy Myers) – slight.
- River Of Love – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday, Randy Myers) – This is a little better though there doesn't seem to be an emotional peak to it which it may need.
- Keep Me In Mind – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday) – This has a nice beat
- Mama's Song – (Buddy Buie, James Cobb) – Buie and Cobb were from the group "Classics IV" (known mainly fror the song "Spooky", 1968) who did quite a bit of songwriting for others on the side.
- Movin' – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday, Randy Myers) – another one with a good beat
- You Can Come To Me – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday) – A mid tempo big ballad with a touch of cabaret which is quite good.
- You Have A Way With Me – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday) – a funky intro leads into a soul-ish song about love and longing. Not too bad.
- I Let Go Completely – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday) – a soul ballad.
- Always Together – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday) – This one is good and goes a little off the path with a touch of country soul in the mix.
- Love Will Find A Way – (Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday, Randy Myers) – The follow up single to "Put a Little Love in Your Heart". Horns and strings and another "happy" message. It makes sense but it's not half as good.
- Live – (Irvin Hunt, Sam Russell) – I believe this was first recorded by DeShannon. Sam Russell was the younger brother of Dargin McWhorter who co produced this album. A little different to the rest having been written by a couple of other people. Not too bad.
The results are patchy here. The great songs (and there aren't many) are great and the so so songs are, err so so. …. a missed opportunity. Still, it's Jackie, I'm keeping it.
1969 Put A Little Love In Your Heart #4 Billboard Hot 100
1969 Put A Little Love In Your Heart #2 Adult Contemporary
1969 Love Will Find A Way #40 Billboard Hot 100
Put A Little Love In Your Heart
Love Will Find A Way