DEAR JERRY: I am amazed at the success you have in answering the music questions that you get. How do you do it?
I sure hope you can help me identify a recording that was played briefly in the Milwaukee area around 1973. I don't know if the artist is male or female, but I do recall this singer having a pretty unusual name.
Other than the early-to-mid-'70s time frame, the best clue I can provide is that this song opens with these words:
“Sometimes everything works out okay. And sometimes seems to go the other way.”
The Milwacko cheese heads here have no idea what I'm talking about, but if you can help me find this song I will play it a hundred times in a row or until their cheese heads curdle.
Paul Dallas, Milwaukee
DEAR PAUL: How it gets done varies from question to question. In your case I believe we have done it again.
Most likely the tune to curdle your cheesy neighbors with is “Try (Try to Fall in Love).”
This early '74 hit matches up with all of the clues you give, including the unusual and non-gender specific artist's name: Cooker.
Cooker (real name: Norman DesRosiers) had just this one hit, and not a big one at that. “Try (Try to Fall in Love)” (Scepter 12388) reached only No. 88 on Billboard, which accounts for it only getting a few spins on the radio.
Worth mention is a remake of “Try (Try to Fall in Love),” found on Sammy Hagar's 1977 album, “Musical Chairs” (Capitol 11706).
Aside from the original single, I know of no CD or reissue with the Cooker track. The Hagar album is definitely on CD.
Before signing off, let me thank you for the gorgeous drawings you added to your envelope. It's worth framing!
The first one to pop into my mind is “Barbara Ann,” recorded originally by the Regents then later by the Beach Boys.
The Regents version is a bit too fast for my liking. The Beach Boys version has all those terrific harmonies plus it had a nice relaxed, unplugged sound to it.
Tim Lindblad, Branford, Conn.
DEAR TIM: Thanks for contributing to this fun topic.
Here are a few others of interest, about which I shall neither agree nor disagree:
DEAR JERRY: I favor these remakes over the originals:
Buddy Holly's “Early in the Morning” and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” over originals by Bobby Darin and Chuck Berry.
Carly Simon and James Taylor's “Mockingbird” more than Inez and Charlie Foxx, and “Unchained Melody” by Vito and the Salutations over any of the other vocals.
In general, the worst remakes are any by Linda Ronstadt.
Eileen Ingala (via e-mail).
DEAR JERRY: The Beatles did an amazingly good job with nearly all of their remakes, as did Elvis and even the Rolling Stones. Most are every bit as good or better than the originals.
Consider also the people who had both the original hit and the remake hit, such as Neil Sedaka with “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”? No matter which you choose, Neil wins! Same goes for Elton John's “Candle in the Wind” and Tommy Edwards' “It's All in the Game.”
Evan Dillard, Lancaster, Pa.
DEAR JERRY: No original artist purists can be offended or argue that the ultimate best remake came along when Eric Clapton released his own version of “Layla.”
Dee Rogers (via e-mail)
IZ ZAT SO? Some of the most successful remakes that come to mind are (original/remake): “The Twist” (Hank Ballard/Chubby Checker); “I Will Always Love You” (Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston); “The Battle of New Orleans” (Jimmie Driftwood/Johnny Horton); “Suspicious Minds” (Mark James/Elvis Presley); “Honey” (Bobby Russell/Bobby Goldsboro); and “My Prayer” (Ink Spots/Platters).