SHE DID IT! THE SONGS OF JACKIE DESHANNON VOLUME 2.

SHE DID IT! THE SONGS OF JACKIE DESHANNON VOLUME 2.

When eventually, the definitive history of modern music is written, Jackie DeShannon will be remembered as one of the first, and most successful singer -songwriters. Her career began in 1956, when as Sherry Lee, she released her debut single Baby Honey. Jackie was just fifteen. This was the start of a songwriting and recording career that would span six decades. 

A reminder of Jackie’s long and illustrious career of Jackie De Shannon, is She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2, which was recently released by Ace Records. It features twenty-three tracks which Jackie DeShannon wrote or cowrote. There’s hit singles, hidden gems and even an unreleased track on She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2. It’s a musical voyage of discovery and tantalising taste of a talented singer and songwriter, Jackie DeShannon, whose story began in 1941. 

Jackie DeShannon was born Sharon Lee Myers, in Hazel, Kentucky, on 21st August 1941. She discovered music at an early age. That was partly, thanks to her parents. They were music lovers, who encouraged Jackie’s love of music. Before long, people realised that Jackie was a talented singer. 

Aged six, Jackie was singing country songs on a local radio station. By the time she was eleven, Jackie was hosting her own radio show Breakfast Melodies. Sadly, life for her parents became difficult on their farm. So they made the decision to move to Batavia, Illinois.

Having moved to Batavia, Jackie attended the local high school. Then when she was a thirteen year old, eighth grader, Jackie featured in a local newspaper. They wrote about how Jackie was a talented and aspiring singer who also presented her own radio show. Jackie also made many appearances at various events within the local community. It seemed Jackie was being prepared for life as a singer.

The next step in Jackie’s career was an appearance on Pee Wee King’s Country and Western Television Show, in March 1956. This was the same year as Jackie released two singles as Sherry Lee. They were Baby Honey and I’m Crazy Darling. When neither singles charted, this proved an inauspicious start to the the future Jackie DeShannon’s music career.

Having spent two years at the Batavia High School, Jackie left in 1957, her sophomore year. The same year, Jackie’s recording career began. She would go on to release singles as Sherry Lee, Jackie Dee, and Jackie Shannon. Then later, she dawned the role of Jackie DeShannon. That was still to come. Before that, she signed to George Goldner’s Gone label in New York.

When Jackie signed to Gone, her management decided to change her name to Jackie Dee. Her debut single was I’ll Be True, which was released in 1957. She released three more singles as Jackie Dee, 1957s I’ll Be True and 1958s Buddy and Strolypso Dance. However, none of these singles charted. This resulted in a rethink from Jackie’s management.

They decided that Jackie Dee become Jackie Shannon. As Jackie Shannon, she released two singles, Just Another Lie and Lies. Neither country-tinged single charted. While this was disappointing for Jackie, these two singles came to the attention of Eddie Cochran.

Eddie Cochran was impressed with Jackie’s interpretation of country songs. He was also impressed with Jackie’s songwriting. So he arranged for Jackie to travel to California and meet his girlfriend Sharon Sheeley. 

Sharon Sheeley was a Californian based singer-songwriter. When she met Jackie, the pair immediately got on. They decided to form a songwriting partnership. This proved a successful songwriting partnership. Together, they penned a string of hit singles. One of the biggest hit singles was Dum Dum, which gave Brenda Lee a hit in America, Australia and Britain. For Jackie, this was just the start of her luck changing.

1960 saw Jackie sign to Liberty Records. She decided to adopt the name Jackie DeShannon. This she felt, would help her sell records. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

The first nine singles that Jackie released failed to chart. Her tenth single, 1962s Faded Love reached number ninety-seven in the US Billboard 100. Then Jackie’s cover of Needles and Pins reached number eighty-four in the US Billboard 100. Jackie also released her eponymous debut album in 1963. Later in 1963, Jackie’s cover of When You Walk in the Room reached number ninety-nine in he US Billboard 100. Despite the early promise Jackie had showed, commercial success was continuing to elude her. However, she received a big break in 1964.

In 1964, The Beatles were about to tour America for the first time. Belatedly, America “got” The Beatles. They needed someone to open for  them. That’s where Jackie came in. This lead to the release of her album Breakin’ It Up On The Beatles Tour! Later that year, Jackie penned Don’t Doubt Yourself Babe, for The Byrds’ debut album. She also released another album, Don’t Turn Your Back On Me. It seemed Jackie’s luck was changing.

1965 saw Jackie move to New York. It was there she met Randy Newman. They formed a songwriting partnership and penned two love songs, She Don’t Understand Him and Did He Call Today Mama? Jackie also formed a brief songwriting partnership with Jimmy Page. However, 1965 was the year Jackie released her breakthrough single. What The World Needs Now Is Love reached number four in the US Billboard 100. It also featured on her 1965 album This Is Jackie DeShannon. So did A Lifetime of Loneliness, which reached number sixty-six in the US Billboard 100.For Jackie, 1965 had been the best year of her career. Surely this was just the start of the rise and rise of Jackie De Shannon?

That looked like being the case. Sadly, in 1966, Jackie enjoyed just one minor hit single, Come and Get Me. It stalled at just number eighty-three in the US Billboard 100. Her album Are You Ready for This? didn’t fare much better. This was the start of two lean years for Jackie De Shannon.

During 1967 and 1968, none of Jackie De Shannon’s singles charted. She released three albums during this period, New Image and For You in 1967. Then in 1968, she released two further albums, Me About You and Laurel Canyon. The only commercial success she enjoyed was with The Weight, which reached number fifty-five in the US Billboard 200. Things would improve in 1969.

Jackie’s career was transformed in 1969. She cowrote Put a Little Love in Your Heart it with her brother, Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holiday. It reached number four in the US Billboard 100. The followup Love Will Find a Way reached number forty in  the US Billboard 100. Put a Little Love in Your Heart lent its name to Jackie’s 1969 album. As a new decade was about to dawn, things looked good for Jackie.

She moved to Los Angeles and signed to Atlantic Records in 1970. For Jackie these changes had mixed results. Her single You Keep Me Hanging On stalled at number ninety-six in the US Billboard 100. It’s So Nice then reached just number eighty-four in the US Billboard 100. Her 1970 album Love, marked a change in Jackie’s sound. It was well received by critics. 

1971 was a huge disappointment for Jackie. Neither of the two singles she released charted. Her 1971 Love marked the evolution in Jackie DeShannon’s sound and style. 

It came to a fruition in 1972. This was when Jackie DeShannon released her new album Jackie. Released to critical acclaim, everything looked good for Jackie. Sadly, Jackie sold badly, failing to match the success of previous albums. A small crumb of comfort was the single Vanilla Olay, which reached number seventy-six in the US Billboard 100. After this, Jackie would enjoy just two minor hit singles 1977s Don’t Let the Flame Burn Out and 1980s I Don’t Need You Anymore. However, in 1973, Jackie released one of the best albums of her career, Your Baby Is a Lady.

Released in 1973, Your Baby Is a Lady was hailed by critics as one of the finest albums of Jackie DeShannon’s career. Unfortunately, history repeated itself when Your Baby Is a Lady followed in the footsteps of Jackie and failed to chart. This was the start of a period where commercial success as a singer eluded Jackie. Her career as a songwriter was a different matter. You’ll realise that when I tell you about the highlights of She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2.

Doris Duke’s Bad Water opens She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2. I’m pleased to see a Doris Duke song on any compilation, especially this one. It was written by Jackie, Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holiday. Produced by Swamp Dogg and with strings arranged by Richard Rome this is track from Doris’ 1971 album A Legend In Her Own Time. Released on the Mojo label, one of the highlights of A Legend In Her Own Time was Bad Water. It’s a track that epitomises the country soul sound, and is a tantalising taste of one soul music’s best kept secrets.

Originally, Bettye Davis Eyes featured on Jackie’s 1975 album New Arrangement. It was written by Jackie and Donna Weiss. Nobody bothered much about the song. That was until six years later, when Kim Carnes released Bettye Davis Eyes as a single in 1981. Not only did it reach number one in the US Billboard 100, but was awarded Grammy Awards for Record of The Year and Song Of The Year. This was well deserved. Kim brings the lyrics to life and turns the track into a timeless classic. Thirty-three years later, it sounds just as good.

Put A Little Love In Your Heart is an oft-covered track. Dorothy Morrison covered Jackie, Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holiday’s song in 1969. She was formerly a member of the Edwin Hawkins Singers, a gospel group. Her gospel-tinged cover was the B-Side of her 1969 single All God’s Children’s Got Soul brings new meaning to a familiar track.

Brenda Lee was one of the first artists to cover a Jackie DeShannon song, when she covered Dum Dum. She also covered My Baby Likes Western Guys in May 1958. It featured on her 1960 eponymous sophomore album. My Baby Likes Western Guys is a reminder of what Little Miss Dynamite was capable of.

Before working with Phil Spector, The Ronettes were signed with Coldpix. When Phil Spector came along, The Ronnettes managed to escape their contract with Coldpix. They didn’t take this lying down. No. In 1965, they released an album The Ronettes Featuring Veronica. It was essentially designed to cash-in on the success of The Ronnettes. Opening the album was He Did It, penned by Jackie and her first songwriting partner Sharon Sheeley. He Did It shows a very different side to The Ronettes. It’s The Ronnettes without Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound. One thing is apparent though, and that’s The Ronnettes were going places.

Marianne Faithfull covered Jackie DeShannon’s With You In Mind in 1966. Produced by Mike Leander, With You In Mind featured on Marianne’s 1967 album Love In A Mist. It’s a tender, beautiful fusion of folk, chanson and pop. 

Gerri Diamond’s cover of I’m Breaking The Law sounds as if it was released in 1967. That’s not the case. Instead, it was released thirty years later in 1997. It was later released in 2005 on the Saxony Records Vaults compilation. The Ohio born singer delivers a sultry, sensual vocal that oozes emotion.

One of the unreleased songs on She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2 is Tammy Grimes’ The Greener Side. Tammy made her name as a Broadway Star, who won two Tony Awards. She also enjoyed a recording career. This includes recording The Greener Side in 1966. Written and Jackie and produced by Jack Nitsche, this song was never released. That’s a great shame, Tammy is obviously a talented singer. That’s apparent as she delivers a sensual vocal in her own, unique style.

Olivia Newton-John is best known for her performance in Grease. There’s much more to her career than that. Her career began in the sixties. She released her debut single in 1966. This was the Jackie DeShannon penned Till You Say You’ll Be Mine. Three years earlier, Jackie released Till You Say You’ll Be Mine as a single. Then in 1966, it’s given a makeover and launched Olivia Newton-John’s long successful career.

Rita Coolidge’s I Wanted It All is the perfect showcase for her tender, wistful vocal. Written by Jackie and John Bettis I Wanted It All featured on Rita’s 1975 album It’s Only Love. It was produced by David Anderle and released on A&M Records. One of the highlights of It’s Only Love is the melancholy beauty of I Wanted It All.

From one great vocalist in Rita Coolidge, to another with Karen Carpenter. She delivers a beautiful version of  Boat To Sail. Written by Jackie, it’s a track from The Carpenters’ 1976 A Kind Of Hush album. Featuring a lush, orchestrated arrangement from Richard Carpenter it’s another of the highlights of She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2.

Closing She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2 is Jackie DeShannon’s version of Love Forever Stay. It’s never been released before. It featured on a 1967 demo album. Just a few copies of these demos were pressed to showcase Jackie’s new songs. Unlike other artists, Jackie’s demos weren’t hurried affairs. Time and effort went into them. That’s why Jackie’s demo are comparable with other artists demos. Here, she’s accompanied by an acoustic guitar as Jackie breathes meaning and emotion into this hidden gem.

During a career that’s spanned fifty-eight years, Jackie DeShannon has established a reputation as one of the most successful singer songwriters. Commercial success and critical acclaim came the way of Jackie DeShannon. She was destined to make a career out of music. It was literally written in the stars. 

From the age of six, Jackie DeShannon was singing live on the radio. By the time she left high school, Jackie DeShannon was a musical veteran. However, commercial success eluded her. It took a six years and four changes of name before she had a hit single. By then, Jackie DeShannon was enjoying  a successful career as a songwriter.

She started as she meant to go on, writing hits for the biggest names in music. The first big single Jackie wrote was Dum Dum for Brenda Lee. After that, the hits kept on coming. Just a tantalising taste of the hits Jackie wrote feature on She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2. Apart from hit singles, hidden gems and unreleased tracks feature on She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2. This is just the tip of a musical iceberg.

There’s plenty more songs that Jackie wrote and recorded. Maybe, Ace Records will release a followup to She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2? I hope so. Especially if it’s as good as She Did It! The Songs Of Jackie De Shannon Volume 2. 

SHE DID IT! THE SONGS OF JACKIE DESHANNON VOLUME 2.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks. Well judged and informative tribute to a fine artist. Good to see hew work being collected. Regards Thom.

    • Hi Thom,

      Thanks for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed the review. I was really pleased to see this compilation of Jackie DeShannon’s released. It’s a fitting reminder of a talented singer-songwriter, Hope there’s a Volume 3.

      Regards,
      Derek.

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