25
Sep 06

BOBBIE GENTRY – “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”

FT + Popular26 comments • 4,042 views

#278, 18th October 1969

 

Like a lot of songs from musicals, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” sounds incomplete somehow, a stage in a particular journey. The bitter lyrics and the warm, whimsical delivery stand in such sharp contrast that you know there’s going to be a resolution one way or another. In the context of the pop charts, though, we never find out the ending, so Gentry’s song has to stand on its own as a confused, rueful moment.

I’ve never seen – or heard – Promises, Promises, so it should be easy for me to hear it like that, but the song still seems awkward. Gentry, sounding like she has a heavy cold, plays it pretty straight and sweet, and doesn’t put any special stress on Hal David’s cleverer couplets – specifically the “pneumonia”/”phone ya” rhyme, the artifice of which jumps out even more as a result. Stripped of context, what I get is some lovely hooks in service of a record that’s too cute for its own good.

6

Comments

  1. 1
    CarsmileSteve on 25 Sep 2006 #

    and yet, the Deacon Blue versh (the first one i knew) takes it too far the other way, straining for OTT emotion that the song can’t quite cope with…

    …i assume there are a million other versions.

  2. 2
    Tom on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Yes, the Dionne Warwick one is the best I know. Deacon Blue’s is pants obv.

    This one brings the tune out nicely though.

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Better harmonies, too; the heartbreaking slip into the minor key on the first “again” doesn’t appear on the Warwick version; the latter is more of a shrug of the shoulders.

    Actually you are OTM – Gentry did have a cold when she recorded the song!

    Curiously the single did nothing in the States – I wonder why, out of all the Bacharach and David catalogue, this managed to go all the way whereas “Walk On By” or “Alfie” or “This Guy’s In Love” didn’t? Slow week?

  4. 4
    rosie on 25 Sep 2006 #

    This Guy’s In Love was, now that I think of it, one of the three titles that tied at the top of the BBC Top of the Pops chart in the summer of 1968.

  5. 5
    jeff w on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Cold or no cold I’m not convinced Gentry was ever all that comfortable doing straight pop, although her take on “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” is probably the best I’ve heard.

  6. 6
    Mark M on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Uncharacteristically grudging marks on this and Je T’aime, Tom, although indeed neither is a particularly highpoint in the singer’s career…

  7. 7
    Tom on 25 Sep 2006 #

    I actually revised this one up from a 5 at the last minute, despite my concerns about RAMPANT MARK INFLATION overtaking us.

  8. 8
    Marcello Carlin on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Typical, Sinker always gets the blame…

  9. 9
    fivelongdays on 25 Sep 2006 #

    I never knew this was from a musical!

  10. 10
    wwolfe on 25 Sep 2006 #

    Dionne Warwick’s version was the first single I ever bought (b/w “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?,” which I prefer as a song), along with Jackie DeShannon’s “What the World Needs Now” and the Ohio Express’s “Yummy Yummy.” I guess I was a big Bacharach/David fan, unknowingly, as a 10-year old.

    I’ve never heard Gentry’s version. In fact, the only song of hers I’ve heard is “Ode to Billy Joe.” (Although I have heard “Fancy,” a big hit for Reba McEntire in 1991 written by Gentry.)

    It seems like Gentry’s cover of this song might have been a move by her handlers to take a country act mainstream in a classy way, possibly with Vegas aor a variety show as the ultimate goal. In 1969, there were few more certain signs of classy mainstream pop than a Bacharach/David song.

    Or, she might have just liked the song.

  11. 11
    Doctor Mod on 26 Sep 2006 #

    Bobbie Gentry is one of those enigmatic artists who had a huge success, stayed in the limelight for only a short time, then vanished. (Much the same could be said about Mary Hopkin, whose career, for all intents and purposes, lasted three years.)

    I really never knew that Gentry had recorded this song until very recently. Considering the sheer original genius that created the self-penned “Ode to Billy Joe”–surely one of the most extraordinary recordings of the 1960s–it seems strange that Gentry, only two years later, would be covering a Bacharach-David song that Dionne Warwick had already put on the charts. To move from the raw country-inflected beauty of “Ode” to the super-slick insincerity of this song seems to be a matter of backsliding, but then few “country” artists got mainstream acclaim in the 1960s, and I suppose this is an attempt to gain a mainstream audience. Even so, Bobbie Gentry was never a garden-variety country singer. (When did you ever hear a string quartet accompanying a country singer?) She had a lot of crossover potential, did a credible version of “Son of a Preacher Man” (and this is coming from a die-hard Dusty devotee), and could also put out some genuine blue-eyed soul. Thus, this song seems an odd choice for her.

    This isn’t to say that she doesn’t put a lot of effort into it–even to the point of steering away from its cloying “cuteness” and giving her best to make it sound sincere. But alas, the lyrics can’t sustain any real emotion–Dionne, the perfect Bacharach/David interpreter made it clear that the self-pity was also self-parody that would last only a moment–“so for at least until tomorrow.” Even then, it wasn’t one of Dionne’s very best, either.

    It would be a pity to remember Bobbie Gentry for this song alone.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 2 Jun 2008 #

    This was an album track pulled randomly for a single, surely. Not only does Bobbie have a cold but it almost prevents her from hitting the high notes – isn’t it in the wrong key for her?

    The BBC still has tapes of her 1968 tv show which are quite something. She plays up the southern belle bit to the hilt and has guests like Donovan and The Hollies going all gooey-eyed. And yes she sings her own songs, just her and an acoustic guitar.

    Maybe it was different stateside where it was even harder for a self-made woman to admit as much publicly than it was in Cilla-lovin’ Britain. No dope, Bobbie was happy to sing other people’s (well, men’s) songs on tv and on record. Her albums alternate between self-penned (Ode To Billie Joe, the phenomenal Delta Sweete) and ones that were heavy with covers (Local Gentry, Touch ‘Em With Love). The covers are classy, usually country soul-tinged, and some were obviously good enough to make number one without breaking sweat (or breaking out the cold remedies).

    For my money, maybe after Dusty, she has the most sensual voice in all pop: Courtyard and Mornin’ Glory from The Delta Sweete make me hold my breath the way The Look Of Love, and pretty much nothing else, can.

    It’s hard to hear the unapologetic Fancy – a UK flop released after this made no.1 and follow-up All I Have To Do Is Dream made 3 – without thinking it has an autobiographical element. Is Bobbie G seen as a feminist heroine? At least by Bust readers?

  13. 13
    DJ Punctum on 2 Jun 2008 #

    No idea, unless you count getting married to a millionaire old enough to be your father and hence not needing to work for last 30 years “heroic.”

  14. 14

    That line, “So, for at least until tomorrow’ one of the biggest ‘get-out’ lines since “what would we do without them?” in “I hate men” from “Kiss me kate”…

  15. 15
    wichita lineman on 2 Jun 2008 #

    Re 13: Well she worked in tv, behind the scenes, for several years after she stopped making records. She was also a Vegas dancer running her own troupe while studying music at college. So I guess she knows what she’s got, is also phenomenally talented, and has made the most of both. I’m impressed.

    I wasn’t suggesting she was Andrea Dworkin. It was a genuine question, not really directed at men!

  16. 16
    Waldo on 25 Oct 2009 #

    I remember this chiefly because it removed “Je T’Aime…” from the top. It had actually been played at the end of the previous week’s TOTP, an honour usually preserved for the actual number one, which of course it wasn’t then. I am delighted that it’s been confirmed that Bobbie had a cold whilst recording this – she sounded as if she was being inconvenienced by Charlie Manson, in fact. All in all, a typical Burt and Hal pigeon and not particularly wonderful really.

  17. 17
    Daniel on 30 Apr 2010 #

    I love the grits and gray vocal of Bobbie on her #1 cover. Dionne sounded like a stupid kid licking a lolly pop. Bacharach- David liked the Gentry version so much they included it in their career cd box set. Bobbie Gentry won a Brit music award for it in 1970.

  18. 18
    Daniel on 30 Apr 2010 #

    I wanted to correct the comment about Bobbie Gentry’s settlement with Bill Harrah and her “not having to work for thirty years” While she did receive a 3.5 million dollar settlement from Harrah, she made far more in her career. She made 3.2 million in royalties from Capitol Records. It became public record when musican Bobby Paris won 1% of her royalties in a lawsuit based on a verbal agreement and Gentry paid out 32 thousand in 1973. She made millions in Vegas with seven figure deals at The Landmark, The Frontier and The Dessert Inn , working up until her retirement in 1980. She made over 4 million in her deal with Warner Brothers to option Ode to Billie Joe into a motion picture, owning a 10% stake in the film. She continues to rake in millions from publishing. Ode to Billie Joe has over 100 covers and 40 million in record sales. Fancy has 10 covers with the Reba McEntire version alone selling 20 million on five Reba cd’s.

  19. 19
    punctum on 30 Apr 2010 #

    In other words, she’s not had to work for thirty years. Good to know the detail, though!

  20. 20
    Daniel on 7 May 2010 #

    well, she did not have to work in show-biz but she did had an empire to run which included a piece of The Phoniex Suns Basketball team, several thousand acres of California farm land, a production and publishing company….

  21. 21
    Dan on 7 May 2010 #

    I heard a touching story about Bobbie from the 1980’s. A couple years after her retirement, one of her Vegas male dancers became ill with a.i.d.s. His lover told me they were pennyless and about to be evicted from their home. Even though she was raising a newborn son as a single mother, she stepped in paid the bills and got her friend the medical care he needed. In an era when some people would not touch somone with a.i.d.s she came to the hospital, held his hand and comforted him. She even paid the funeral expenses and made a terrible situation a little more tolerable for a dear friend.

  22. 22
    lonepilgrim on 14 Nov 2011 #

    There are currently some recordings of BG (plus Donovan and James Taylor) that were made for the BBC in 1968 & 69 available here:
    http://www.bigozine2.com/archive/ARrarities07/ARbgbbc.html

  23. 23
    wichita lineman on 11 Apr 2012 #

    Here’s something I wrote on my blog about Bobbie G:

    http://croydonmunicipal.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/mystery-of-bobbie-gentry.html

  24. 24
    Conrad on 30 Sep 2013 #

    Really getting into Bobbie Gentry – not this stuff though. In fact, I’ve realised I thoroughly dislike Bacharach and David’s style of writing. Their melodies and chord changes make me feel quite nauseous.

  25. 25
    mapman132 on 21 Feb 2014 #

    And another familiar song from my early childhood is matched with a title. But of course here in America, it was Dionne Warwick’s version playing from my parents’ radio (peaked at Hot 100 #6). Gotta say, Dionne’s version is much, much better.

    FWIW, “Ode to Billie Joe” was a #1 in the US – a much better recording than this weak cover version.

  26. 26
    lonepilgrim on 26 Sep 2017 #

    I must have been watching TOTP at this stage as I can remember as a kid being tickled by the line about getting enough germs to catch pneumonia if you kissed someone. It probably helped confirm a developing preadolescent awkwardness towards girls which I have now almost overcome.
    The song is pleasant but nowhere near as compelling as ‘Ode to Billy Joe’ – which most likely inspired ‘Clothes Line Saga’ from the Basement Tapes. ‘Reunion’ cropped up on the soundtrack to season 2 of Fargo and made me want to check out The Delta Sweete album.

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)

Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page