Jan 05

THE SEARCHERS – “Don’t Throw Your Love Away”

Popular13 comments • 4,180 views

#168, 9th May 1964

Love’s a funny thing. A catch-all ingredient for pop songs – particularly these pop songs, at this time – the word can stand for anything from a pang of mild yearning to physical passion to an all-encompassing mystical force. This song starts as gentle persuasion – nudging someone away from making a bad romantic decision – and then midway turns into an editorial scolding “lovers of today”. Apparently said lovers will give their love to anyone who says “I love you” – surely not a dig at any other bands? The tension – and the clumsiness – in the song is in the way it shifts between love as a unique commodity (“you might need it some day”) and love as a trinket.

In the end it’s hard not to read the record as a pro-virginity message dressed up in (yes, very pretty and tender) pop trappings. That’s fair enough – coded discussions of going all the way aren’t uncommon in 60s pop. But a record like The Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” locates the question in the first person and in a moment of decision and is much more potent for it. “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” – also originally a Shirelles track – is more impersonal and so never escapes the shadow of wagging fingers.



  1. 1
    Doctor Mod on 31 Jul 2006 #

    “A pro-virginity message”. . . hmm. My mother didn’t think so! She banned the song from the house after hearing the line “Go out and have your fun/ you better have your fun with anyone,” thinking it was advocating promiscuity! (I’ll not speculate on my mother’s idea of “fun,” although I rather think she was opposed to it, whatever it was.)

    I didn’t know that this was a Shirelles cover. (Someday I’m going to write something on the the Shirelles’ influence on British male pop music, but don’t hold your breath.) Considering the girl-group ethos, then, the “pro-virginity message” is probably correct, even if I find the lyrics a bit ambiguous–just what is this “fun” one is supposed to have with “anyone,” eh? But the Shirelles were great at what I call the “advice” song (think “Foolish Little Girl”), and this particular advice, for what it’s worth, makes an interested addition to that genre.

  2. 2
    wichitalineman on 12 May 2008 #

    A pedant writes… it was originally by Philadelphia girl (and one guy) group The Orlons, b-side of small US hit Bon Doo Wah. And they sing “go out and have a ball, have a ball with one and all” instead of the “have your fun” line. So the Searchers adapted this virginity-promoting item to make it a little more risque.

  3. 3
    DJ Punctum on 12 May 2008 #

    Or perhaps to get it played on the Light Programme.

    The Searchers turned up on the Johnnie Walker show yesterday; very funny and entertaining as people but I wish I could feel more passionate about their music.

  4. 4
    Matthew on 12 Jan 2009 #

    I don’t know, one minute Mike Sarne is persona completely non grata for lyrically pestering a girl to snog him outside the front of the discotheque, and the next The Searchers get written off for being square and uncool enough to suggest she doesn’t need to. You can’t win with Tom if you’re a lad in a band in the early 60s, can you? Unless you’re the Beatles, ‘cos everyone knows THEIR songs are great, even when they’re dumb.

  5. 5
    Billy Smart on 16 Dec 2009 #

    TOTPWatch. The Searchers twice performed ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ on Top Of The Pops. Neither show survives.

    22 April 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Millie, Peter & Gordon, The Four Pennies and The Mojos. Jimmy saville was the host.

    29 April 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Gerry & The Pacemakers, Manfred Mann, Migil Five, Peter & Gordon, The Fourmost, The Merseybeats and The Rolling Stones. Alan Freeman was the host.

  6. 6
    grange85 on 17 May 2010 #

    Celebrating my birthday today I gave this a listen for the first time in ages and it really is a bit crap – sort of disappointed that the cool of the 60s wasn’t happening on my birthday…

  7. 7
    Darren on 22 Oct 2010 #

    Thanks for the background on the song, but 5 does seems a bit harsh for what is one of the better number 1s from the early 60s. It’s a 7 or 8 for me.

    Now I just have to seek out that version by The Shirelles.

  8. 8
    wichita lineman on 24 Oct 2010 #

    It was by the Orlons, not the Shirelles. Honest it was. I’m pretty sure the Shirelles never recorded it.

    I do think this is one of the less likely number ones of the era, but I love its warmth and understated production; it’s an arm around the shoulder single. Probably worth mentioning that gay drummer Chris Curtis had just wrestled control of the group, moving their sound away from the Tony Jackson-led Merseybeat sound and into a softer, more original folk rock/girl group direction. The lyric could be seen as coded advice along the lines of Elton John’s Someone Saved My Life Tonight.

    I still don’t think it’s a patch on the chiming, blushing When You Walk In The Room, two Searchers singles down the line, which stopped at no.3 held at bay by Sandie Shaw (Always Something There To Remind Me) and Roy Orbison (Oh Pretty Woman).

    I wonder if the “lovers of today” line inspired the Only Ones’ single of the same name.

  9. 9
    Paulito on 24 Oct 2010 #

    @Wichita – how do you know Chris Curtis was gay? I’ve never seen any references to that.

  10. 10
    wichita lineman on 25 Oct 2010 #

    There was a long revealing interview in Record Collector with Spencer Leigh in the late nineties. He claimed Goodbye My Love, their 1965 Top 5 hit was “a gay song” and Take Me For What I’m Worth was “a very profound song and could have been a gay anthem.” Dave Davies’s book Kink tells a story about how they used to go around Soho restaurants trying to pick up the ugliest waiter. And in the mid 60s he hung out in London with Dusty Springfield and Madeline Bell while the rest of the Searchers stayed in Liverpool… admittedly I’m extrapolating from this.

  11. 11
    Lena on 12 Jul 2011 #

    I thought it was the 50s (maybe it still is in Ireland?) – http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/07/bachelors-i-believe.html – ta for reading, y’all!

  12. 12
    lonepilgrim on 18 Mar 2015 #

    the Orlons version sounds rooted in musical theatre whereas the Searchers sound more folky, both by virtue of their twangy guitars and their nasal harmonies. There’s a melancholy quality to their singing that I find much more engaging than The Bachelors.

  13. 13
    Gareth Parker on 8 Jun 2021 #

    Another astute comment from Lonepilgrim. I would go up to a 6/10 here.

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