Jerry Butler: Mr Dee Jay, I Got A Heartache (1968)

 |   |  1 min read

Jerry Butler: Mr Dee Jay, I Got A Heartache (1968)

Jerry Butler, one of the greatest soul singers to emerge out of Chicago, came up through the usual route: gospel in church, inspired by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, formed a group (the Impressions) and recorded for Vee-Jay down on what was known as Record Row.

"Record Row was the scene," he said. "It went from just south of the Loop all the way down to 23rd St where Chess was. There was always something happening, we threw the best parties."

Back then Vee-Jay was the only real rival to Chess (where Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howling Wolf and dozens of other blues artists recorded) but Butler was one of the first soul artists to sign to the label.

The Impressions became big (Butler's friend Curtis Mayfield was also in the group) and enjoyed a string of hits . . . but Butler had left by '62 for a solo career where he took his smooth style to ballads like Moon River, Let It Be Me (with Bettye Everett) and other songs which crossed onto the charts.

But he could also deliver aching soul (When a Man Loves a Woman, he co-wrote I've Been Lovin' You Too Long with Otis Redding) and here he turns his attention to a theme which is familiar.

If the best songs write themselves into our autobiography, so too they can dredge up hurtful associations when the love or golden days have gone (as Aretha sings on Don't Play That Song For Me).

Songs also articulate what we sometimes cannot say and here Butler -- with some heavy orchestration and backing up singers -- asks the radio DJ to play that special sad song that speaks to spirit of the heart-broken.

When Butler tears his heart out here you know you are in the presence of one of the greats. 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Jim James and Calexico: Going to Acapulco (2007)

Jim James and Calexico: Going to Acapulco (2007)

Acapulco in Mexico is widely known as a party destination for many Americans, but in Bob Dylan's Goin' to Acapulco -- which appeared on The Basement Tapes -- the mood is anything but celebratory,... > Read more

The Supremes: Floy Joy (1972)

The Supremes: Floy Joy (1972)

In the mid Sixties when people were earnestly looking to Bob Dylan for answers, someone asked him who his favourite poet was. "Smokey Robinson," he replied. Fair call. Smokey's... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK; THE TOURING YEARS, a Beatles doco by RON HOWARD (Universal DVD/BluRay)

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK; THE TOURING YEARS, a Beatles doco by RON HOWARD (Universal DVD/BluRay)

Just as there were predicable howls of disapproval from the jazz elite when Clint Eastwood announced he was making a bio-pix of Charlie Parker (Dirty Harry taking aim at Bird?), so too were... > Read more

JUST FIVE YEARS AGO: AMERICA IN CRISIS (2004): Land of the Free and Home of the Afraid

JUST FIVE YEARS AGO: AMERICA IN CRISIS (2004): Land of the Free and Home of the Afraid

The cover of New York's weekly Village Voice in early June encapsulated the feeling in a single image. It was a variation on Grant Wood's famous painting American Gothic, the portrait of the... > Read more