The Shangri-Las: I Can Never Go Home Anymore (1965)

 |   |  1 min read

The Shangri-Las: I Can Never Go Home Anymore (1965)

The spoken-word song -- often with a moral or a message -- has rarely been as popular as it was in the early Sixties. Back then there were numerous examples and although only a few became hugely popular the idea was a legitimate form.

The Shangri-Las -- better known for Walkin' in the Sand and their terrific Leader of the Pack among other widescreen hits -- weighed in with this memorable piece (with a moral) which was rather a late entry in the spoken-word stakes.

By '65 the girl group phenomenon had passed, as had spoken-word songs, but with I Can Never Go Home Anymore (and Past, Present and Future the following year) they still saw something in it. Or at least the great George "Shadow" Morton who wrote and produced it did.

Ironically when the war in Vietnam really rolled out for Americans a few years later the spoken-word song returned (to no great chart success) in songs that were often sentimentally awful (Little Becky's Christmas Wish).

But for this tale of a mother and daughter relationship destroyed by teenage wilfulness over a boy, singer Mary Weiss milked the melodrama and, at the central pivot, let go a primal yelp for "Momma" which is full of pain and despair.

For all that it seems cheaply sentimental -- in the year of the Stones' Get Off of My Cloud and Satisfaction, the Byrds' Mr Tambourine Man, the Beatles' Daytripper and Bob Dylan's bitter Positively 4th Street -- this went to number six on the US charts.

Proof indeed that there was something in the message which connected with a broad, and possibly confused, teenage audience caught between the constraints of family life and the seductive pull of the wider and more exciting world.

In that, I Can Never Go Home Anymore has a timeless quality. 

For more one-offs, songs with an interesting backstory or oddities see From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Johnny Guitar Watson: Funk Beyond the Call of Duty (1977)

Johnny Guitar Watson: Funk Beyond the Call of Duty (1977)

By the time Johnny Guitar Watson made the album of which this was the title track, he was 42, had been on about 15 different labels and had really paid his dues: he'd started recording at 17, been... > Read more

Mahalia Jackson: Consider Me (1953)

Mahalia Jackson: Consider Me (1953)

Although widely recognised as the greatest of all American gospel singers and a prominent civil rights activist, Mahalia Jackson (1911 - 72) also flirted with some crossover chart success. Her... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE UNFORGIVEN: THE UNFORGIVEN, CONSIDERED (1986): The band that died with its boots on

THE UNFORGIVEN: THE UNFORGIVEN, CONSIDERED (1986): The band that died with its boots on

Some time in the early Nineties I met up with two of the guys from Cracker at a bar in New York, and towards the end of our conversation the talk turned to what they had done before their alt.rock... > Read more

THE FLYING DUTCHMAN: Wagner, economy size

THE FLYING DUTCHMAN: Wagner, economy size

Some years ago when I interviewed Paul Simon, I brought up a topic I knew he'd be uncomfortable with. His Broadway play The Capeman. The show – which had cost US$11 million by some... > Read more