DEAR JERRY: I am hoping you can help solve this musical mystery that's had everyone in my family thinking I'm nuts for decades now. I really don't know who else to turn to.
In the early '70s, a friend was given a stack of old 45s by his parents. The music was quite diverse but the one we liked and played the most is a song that I believe is titled “Don't Guild the Lilly, Lilly.” I have no idea who sang it or when it first came out.
The record disappeared shortly thereafter never to be seen again, though I can still hear it in my head. I have asked every person I've met with a knowledge of music from that era about the song, and nobody has even a clue of it. I'm almost beginning to question it myself, except for the fact I can still remember how it went pretty clearly.
I wish I had more clues for you. I've been wracking my brain for years trying to remember what the label looked like or if we ever listened to the other side of the record.
Since I've now grown up and work as a recording engineer in the music industry, finding out what this record is, and trying to get a copy, has become an obsession. Still, I have not a single clue to validate its existence. Please help me!
Steve Chahley, Toronto, Canada
DEAR STEVE: First comes the validation you so desperately need. The correct title is “Don't Gild the Lily, Lily.” Hardly obscure, this tune is the flip side of the summer '61, Top 5 hit, “Hats off to Larry,” by Del Shannon (Big Top 3075).
As for acquiring this track apart from buying the original single ($10 to $20) there is one CD that includes “Don't Gild the Lily, Lily” among its 30 tracks.
Titled “The Very Best Of Del Shannon: Runaway” (Collectables 090431-27962-5), it is also noteworthy because of another song. Of the many Del Shannon collections, this is where you will pick up “I Won't Be There,” an otherwise hard to find Big Top release from 1962.
It is an amazing feat, to be sure. Now I am wondering if either he or the Beatles ever did that here, especially in their '50s and '60s heydays. How about songs like “All Shook Up” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”?
I notice they play “All Shook Up” a lot at baseball parks when things are getting a little shaky for an opposing pitcher. That is quite inventive.
Shirley Eager, Lakeland, Fla.
DEAR SHIRLEY: An appropriate topic during this, the 25th anniversary week of Presley's death.
Neither Elvis, the Beatles, nor anyone else in those years, managed to debut atop the Billboard singles chart. As for the two hits you mention, both took three weeks to get where they were going. “All Shook Up” debuted at No. 26, jumped to No. 6, then to No. 1. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” entered at No. 45, then jumped to No. 3, then to No. 1.
As for the same situation on the Cash Box charts, both artists reached the top in just two weeks. Elvis did it twice, with “All Shook Up” (No. 13, No. 1) and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” (No. 47, No. 1), and the Beatles with “Hey Jude” (No. 38, No. 1).
During one recently televised game, as the opposing manager, pitcher, and catcher held a meeting at the mound, the P.A. system blared out “You Talk Too Much.” I found that one clever.
IZ ZAT SO? When Del Shannon left Big Top in 1963 and started his own label, Berlee Records, many wondered about the origin of the name.
Many years later, we learned that Del Shannon (born Charles Westover) concocted Berlee to honor his parents: Bert and Leone Westover.