Thursday, May 8, 2008

Boss Tracks; When You Walk In The Room, Jackie DeShannon

Jackie DeShannon is an enigma to me. On the basis of just a few hit singles she managed to gain a cult following that out matches her achievements in music. Jackie's discography is filled with rather campy albums and 45s, fleshed out with two songs that are unwilling to die. The syrupy "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" and the 45 I'm discussing in this blog entry. Though DeShannon may undoubtedly have more 45s that are worth while to seek out, it is commonly agreed on that "When You Walk In The Room" is her finest achievement in what you might call a rather eclectic career. Jackie DeShannon was born Sharon Lee Myers in '44 and had already cut a few sides under various names, such as Sherry Lee and Jackie Dee, before Eddie Cochran discovered her. He introduced her to Sharon Sheeley with whom Jackie would start writing hits with promising names as "Dum Dum". Needless to say many of those hits have long since been forgotten.

Jackie picked up on recording herself again when she was signed at Liberty records. Although her first 45, "Faded Love" from 1963, was a hit, her follow up singles barely scraped the charts. Among those 45s was "When You Walk In The Room", oddly enough first considered a throw away song destined to become a B-Side. I'm not sure what changed the minds of the powers that be at Liberty, but it was issued as the DJ side. Not that it helped much. Maybe the lines "I can feel a new expression on my face, I can feel a loin sensation taking place" proved just a bit to risky for US radio. In the UK the record was largely ignored as well, untill the Searchers picked it up and scored a massive hit with the song. Suddenly loin sensations were OK again (though some lyric versions suddenly mention its a glowing sensation). The Searchers' success with the song is undoubtedly what helped her land a gig, opening for the Beatles. The blond bombshell must have been able to charm her way through her career from there, writing songs with Jimmy Page and Randy Newman, appearing in teen movies with Bobby Vee, singing for Burt Bacharch, singing with Van Morrison and of course dating the King of R&R, Elvis! I somehow suspect that her fling with the King is what created, at least some of, the cult. Today Jackie is honored with hundreds of sites and messages boards on the web. This raving blond beauty has managed to gain quite a following that doesn't seem quite justified by the output of her career. Whatever it is, Jackie continuously manages to attract some of the top brass in the entertainment industry. Aside from Springsteen covering her song live some, Annia Lennox scored a huge hit with "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" and Tom Petty with "Needles and Pins".

"When You Walk In The Room" is available on The Very Best of Jackie DeShannon

Jackie DeShannon

MP3 File

Bruce Springsteen

MP3 File

Read the story of Jackie DeShannon here for more background.


jdzlaw said...

I remember when "Jeannie Don't You Lose Heart" was released, someone (Vin Scelsa? Little Steven?) said that Bruce was always trying to write "When You Walk Into the Room"

SoulBoogieAlex said...

Interesting, I'm not sure how Janey is a re-write though. A very different song structure. Though the lyric could be seen as a classic answer song. "When You Walk In The Room" is a song about loosing heart essentially. "But I only have the nerve to stare" Jackie sings of herself in relation object of adoration. But shouldn't it have been "Jackie Don't You Loose Heart" then?

Anonymous said...

I've never seen such a misguided analysis of an artist's work or popularity. Obviously, you don't get it. First of all, she didn't write "loin sensation", it was always "glowing sensation". Clean out your ears. Now, when I first heard the record in 1963, I can tell you something started happening in my loins, but that's to be expected from this great sensual performance. Of all the thousands of records in my collection, this one has ALWAYS been my favorite "girl" record, followed by her other two great songs, "THE PRINCE" and "NEEDLES and PINS". (I like those better than RIVER DEEP MOUNTAIN HIGH by TINA or IS IT TRUE by BRENDA LEE, two more great girl classics) I have always thought that if the act of felatio could be set to music, it was on those three records by Jackie, and that makes them all quite sexy, from a guy's perspective. The SEARCHERS treatement of her song turned it into bubblegum, no guts, just another sure fire hit for anything British at the time. Albeit, her real pay day came later with the shlock ballads, she was obviously ahead of her time with these true classic rockers. "NEEDLES and PINS" predated FOLK ROCK by a couple of years, but the guitar riff is pure FOLK ROCK. The Jack Nitche arrangment on WHEN YOU WALK IN THE ROOM Predates BE MY BABY by a month or two, so Jackie and Nitche should be credited with coming up with the WALL OF SOUND in advance of Spector, since Jack did all of his charts too. In the final analysis, for a white girl, Jackie DeShannon was ONE HELL OF A ROCKER, as demonstrated on those three records- certainly equal with Brenda Lee, Wanda Jackson and JoAnn Campbell. I can't think of any other white women who really rocked back then, can you?

SoulBoogieAlex said...

It is possible I don't really get DeShannon, different strokes for different folks as they say. DeShannon had her biggest successes when I wasn't even an idea in my parents minds, so that's an handicap trying to evaluate some of these records I imagine.

However, loin sensation it is so far as I could find out. I didn't just go by ear on that one but actually compared the lyric sheets I could find plus a little back ground info on the record here and there. And let's be honest, loin sensation does give the 45 just a little extra spice ;-)