Hello there! In this week’s blog we consider the song When Will I Be Loved. This is a great rockabilly song written by Phil Everly and originally issued by the Everly Brothers. We will then discuss covers of that song by Linda Ronstadt and John Fogerty.
The Everly Brothers and When Will I Be Loved:
We covered the Everly Brothers in our blog post on the Buddy Holly song That’ll Be The Day. So here we will briefly summarize their career.
Don and Phil Everly were brothers who grew up in Shenandoah, Iowa. As young children, they began performing with their parents’ Everly Family singers as “Little Donnie and Baby Boy Phil.” The legendary close harmony singing for which they became famous was a result of years of performing together. The Everly Brothers songs generally featured older brother Don singing the baritone lead and his younger sibling Phil taking the tenor harmony part.
Here is a photo of Don (L) and Phil Everly from 1955; they are flanking the great 50s bandleader and early rock pioneer Johnny Otis.
When the brothers were in high school, the family moved to Tennessee and Don and Phil were hired as songwriters by Acuff-Rose music publishers. The duo had their first big hit in 1957 with Bye Bye Love, a song written by the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.
The group formed a most profitable association with the Bryants. That pair wrote over a score of songs that Don and Phil turned into hits. However, When Will I Be Loved was a song written by Phil Everly.
The song describes a man who has had extremely bad fortunes with his romantic relationships, and wonders when his luck will change.
I’ve been cheated
When will I be loved?
I’ve been put down
I’ve been pushed ’round
When will I be loved?
When Will I Be Loved was recorded in Nashville in February, 1960. In addition to the Everly Brothers, the tune features Nashville legends Chet Atkins on guitar and Floyd Cramer on piano. When the song was released in the summer of 1960, it made it to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop charts.
The song begins with a brief four-note intro, followed by the Everlys’ inimitable harmony delivered in diatonic thirds. One interesting fact is that in 1960 the Everlys moved from Cadence Records to Warner Brothers. At that time their music shifted from their earlier country rockabilly sound to a more conventional pop style. As a result, the Cadence Records release When Will I Be Loved is one of the Everlys’ last country-style hits.
Here are the Everly Brothers doing a “live” performance of When Will I Be Loved on TV’s Dick Clark Beech-Nut Show, from July 9, 1960. During this period the Everlys were at the peak of their popularity.
By the way, note that the teen-agers flanking Dick Clark in this video are all wearing “IFIC” buttons (a slogan for Beech-Nut gum, which I believe was “It’s Flavor-IFIC!”). Also, note that every single youth is chewing gum.
At this point in time, Dick Clark was a real king-maker in the pop music industry. His nationally-syndicated TV show American Bandstand was exceptionally influential in creating and plugging hits. An appearance on the Dick Clark show could make or break an artist.
After all these years, I am still incredibly ambivalent about Dick Clark. On the one hand, he genuinely loved rock music and was quite supportive to a number of talented artists. In particular, Clark was extremely generous to a number of black artists. His support was vital to helping black performers at a time when it was common for white groups to “cover” the work of black musicians (Pat Boone was one of the major offenders here).
On the other hand, Clark was personally responsible for the format of his shows, and after the early days the performers on his show increasingly “lip-synched” their hits, simply mouthing the words while the record played in the background. I feel that this did a great disservice to rock music, where live performance has always been essential. Lip-synching the music really cheats the audience, substituting a recorded track for an actual live song.
Furthermore, lip-synching the songs allowed record companies to market ‘artists’ who were actually unable to perform their songs live. Fabian and Annette Funicello were notoriously poor singers back in the old days, and impostors such as Milli Vanilli are more recent examples of this practice. So, I wish that Dick Clark had stuck with live performances throughout his career – rock music would be so much better off had he done this.
Anyway, back to the Everly Brothers. Through 1962 the duo continued as one of the best-selling pop groups, but an argument with their Acuff-Rose publishing group left them in a precarious position. They were cut off from the Bryants, who had provided them with many hits. Worse still, if they wrote their own songs the royalties would still go to Acuff-Rose.
The Everlys tried to write songs using pseudonyms, a trick that had worked for many other artists. However, Acuff-Rose caught on and confiscated the royalties for these songs. Around this time, the Everly Brothers’ career was further hampered by the fact that both brothers became addicted to methamphetamines.
Don’s condition was worse than Phil’s, and in fall 1962 he collapsed onstage during a British tour. In addition to their health problems, the Everlys also found it difficult to compete with British Invasion groups. Somewhat paradoxically, during the late 60s and early 70s the appeal of the Everly Brothers remained higher in Canada, Australia and the UK than in the US.
The final straw occurred in July 1973 at a show at California’s Knott’s Berry Farm, where Don showed up drunk and was having difficulty performing. In the middle of the show, Phil smashed his guitar and walked off, leaving Don to finish the show by himself. Following that incident, the two brothers did not speak for more than a decade.
The brothers reunited for several shows during the 1980s, and they occasionally appeared after that at various tribute concerts. In January, 2014 Phil Everly died of lung disease.
The Everly Brothers were an inspiration to dozens of pop groups who followed after them.
The Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Simon & Garfunkel developed their early styles by performing Everly covers. The Bee Gees, the Hollies, and other rock ‘n’ roll groups that feature harmony singing were also influenced.
By the way, Thom Hickey writes a very informative blog called The Immortal Jukebox. He wrote a post about the Everly Brothers on the occasion of Phil Everly’s death in 2014. You can find that article here.
Linda Ronstadt and When Will I Be Loved:
We previously discussed Linda Ronstadt in our blog post on the Chuck Berry song Back in the U.S.A., and also in our blog post on the Buddy Holly song That’ll Be The Day. So here we will briefly review Ronstadt’s career and her work.
Linda Ronstadt is one of the most successful women artists in rock history. She has a stunning number of albums to her credit and has sold over 100 million records. In the process, she has garnered a slew of awards and honors, culminating with her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. Ronstadt is an exceptionally versatile artist; she has collaborated with artists in the fields of rock, country, jazz and Hispanic music.
Ronstadt was born in Tucson where her grandfather had emigrated from Germany, married a Mexican and became a prosperous rancher and early settler in Arizona. She began her performing career in the mid-60s as the lead singer in a folk-rock-country trio, The Stone Poneys.
Here is a photo of Linda Ronstadt performing in February, 1974.
Linda Ronstadt became a blockbuster star in the 70s, when she recorded a series of best-selling albums, produced posters that found their way onto the walls of millions of impressionable teen-age boys, and could fill up venues on stadium tours with fellow West Coast folk-rockers such as The Eagles (who had performed in her backup group before joining forces as their own band), Jackson Browne and The Doors.
First, here is the Spotify audio of Linda Ronstadt’s cover of When Will I Be Loved. It is particularly notable because I’ve heard rumors that the Everly Brothers themselves sang backup vocals on this track!
Whether or not that is the Everlys on this audio track, this is a most enjoyable version of this classic tune. Linda Ronstadt belts out the song, and is accompanied by both some great backing vocals and by a very impressive band.
Now here is Linda doing a live performance of When Will I Be Loved. This is from a live concert in the mid-70s.
Since The Eagles performed for a while as Ronstadt’s backing band, my question is: are those future members of the Eagles in Linda’s band in this video? My feeling is that those are not the Eagles backing her up; but as one gets only fleeting glances of the band, I am not certain of this.
Nearly all Ronstadt’s hits were covers of standards by classic artists like Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison. However, the songs tended to feature great country-rock arrangements and catchy hook-filled production values. Plus, being marketed as a sex symbol certainly didn’t hurt Ronstadt in a business dominated by male artists.
In recent years Linda Ronstadt had concentrated on albums of traditional Mexican folk songs that she remembered from her youth. However in 2011 Ronstadt announced her retirement, and in 2013 revealed that she had contracted Parkinson’s disease which prevents her from performing.
John Fogerty and When Will I Be Loved:
John Fogerty is one of our favorite artists. We covered his group Creedence Clearwater Revival in our post on their song Proud Mary, and again in our blog post on their cover of Heard It Through the Grapevine. Here, we will provide a brief summary of CCR, and also John Fogerty’s solo career.
Creedence Clearwater Revival was an American rock and roll quartet, and they enjoyed tremendous popular success in the late 60s and early 70s. Because their music featured a Southern-style “swamp music,” many assumed they were a Southern band, although they were actually from northern California’s Bay Area.
The band was initially formed by Tom Fogerty and also included his younger brother John. Fairly quickly, John replaced Tom as the leader of the band, as it became evident that John was an incredibly talented musician. In addition to lead vocalist, John was the band’s lead guitarist, songwriter, and arranger. He also proved very proficient in the studio, overseeing production of the group’s records.
Here is a photo of John Fogerty performing during the CCR days in 1970 at Royal Albert Hall.
Once they gained national exposure in the late 60s, for the next five years CCR became a pop music phenomenon. Their albums shot up to number one on the charts, their singles were smash hits, and they were headliners on tour.
John Fogerty’s raspy vocals, which owed a great deal to Little Richard, seemed just perfect for the group’s up-tempo, hook-filled swamp rock. Songs like Who’ll Stop the Rain, Fortunate Son, Down on the Corner and Bad Moon Rising established the band as a leader in this genre. CCR were pioneers in what is now called `roots rock.’ They managed to produce new pop songs that seemed to retain the flavor of authentic down-home Southern music.
Despite the band’s great success in the early 70s, the other three CCR members chafed at what they perceived to be John Fogerty’s high-handed ways in making decisions for the group. They were angry that John insisted on more or less total control of the band, and they felt that several of his decisions were detrimental to their musical and commercial success.
From John’s perspective, it seemed only natural that he should be making the decisions, as he was clearly the driving force behind the group. He wrote the songs, sang lead vocals, played lead guitar, supervised the recording sessions, and for a while he even managed the group!
Tom Fogerty quit the group in 1970, and they continued as a trio for two more years before disbanding. The animosity over CCR’s dissolution was unusual even by rock music standards, and bad feelings continue to this day. When CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, John refused to go on stage with his surviving bandmates Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, and instead he performed with an all-star band.
Following a fallow period after the group disbanded, John Fogerty has now re-established himself as a solo artist. He has assembled a group of exceptional musicians, and his concerts feature an enjoyable combination of classic CCR hits, covers of old country-rock favorites, plus Fogerty’s more recent solo work.
Here are John Fogerty and his band in a live performance of the Everly Brothers’ When Will I Be Loved, from Sept. 3, 2009. I believe this is an appearance on the David Letterman Show – in fact, I think I spot both Dave and Paul Shaffer right at the start of the video.
Isn’t this enjoyable? The song is a perfect vehicle for Fogerty’s ‘roots’ rockabilly sound. There is also a short but sweet pedal steel guitar solo in the middle of this song. It is great to see John Fogerty performing again, and particularly satisfying to hear him singing the old CCR hits.
One of the things to note is that Fogerty’s drummer in this video is Kenny Aronoff. Kenny was a graduate of Indiana University’s wonderful Music School, in my home town of Bloomington, Indiana. At the IU Music School, Aronoff studied with legendary tympanist George Gaber.
After graduating from the IU Music School, Aronoff had offers from various symphony orchestras, but he wisely chose to opt for a career in rock music. For 16 years, Kenny was the drummer for John Mellencamp, and then was the drummer for John Fogerty for another 20 years. Aronoff is one of the great rock drummers, and he lived in Bloomington for many years; however, he’s now located in L.A.
Wikipedia, When Will I Be Loved (song)
Wikipedia, The Everly Brothers
Wikipedia, Linda Ronstadt
Wikipedia, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Wikipedia, John Fogerty
Thom Hickey, The Immortal Jukebox: The Everly Brothers