Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (1969) part 2: Slut wives cheating

Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (1969) part 2

by Jochen Markhorst

II          Slut wives cheating

I should have left this town this morning
But it was more than I could do
Oh, your love comes on so strong
And I’ve waited all day long
For tonight when I’ll be staying here with you

Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017) is an entertaining action film, lovingly spiced up with unobtrusive details like leading colours, lighting, superior camera use, sound effects and especially, less unobtrusively: music. Protagonist Miles ‘Baby’ (Ansel Elgort), a very young, exceptionally gifted getaway driver, suffers from tinnitus and suppresses the whistling beeping almost continuously with music – a not too far-fetched alibi for director Wright to inventively synchronise the overflowing soundtrack’s songs with storyline and action scenes. And for the Dutch viewers, there are two sequences that appeal to perhaps petty, but understandable national pride.

One is the brilliantly edited chase scene in which Baby escapes his assailants on the stop-and-go pattern, the rhythm and even the drum beats of Focus’ 1973 world hit, “Hocus Pocus”.

 

The other Dutch hurrah moment is Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” (1973), which is considered an alternative Dutch national anthem anyway. And, as with the actual national anthem, no one knows the correct lyrics. Especially the third verse has the most bizarre phonetic abberations, but officially it should be:

The radio's playin' some forgotten song
Brenda Lee's "Coming On Strong"
The road has got me hypnotized
And I'm speedin' into a new sunrise

The final line is reworded as, for instance, spitting into a nude sunrise, but Brenda Lee causes the most problems. Randal Lee, Brandon’s lead, The melody’s, Steadily, Reveille’s, Randy Leeds, Brad and Lee are coming on home… poor Brenda Lee has been overgrown by a thicket of wild onomatopoeic imitations.

Not really blameworthy, to be fair – in the Netherlands, Brenda Lee has nowhere near the status and name that she has in the UK and the US, and “Coming On Strong” is completely unknown. An informed Dutchman knows at most “I’m Sorry” from 1960. But then, Golden Earring’s singer and songwriter Barry Hay has a Scottish father, was born in India and attended an English boarding school in The Hague – Barry is a bit more international than the average Hollander. Plus: the band has just completed their first tour of America in 1969. A forgotten song like “Coming On Strong” might very well have been played on the radio there – perhaps also when Dylan, in his hotel room in Nashville, plucks “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” from the air.

 

It seems a rather thin line, the line from “Coming On Strong” to Oh, your love comes on so strong. Still, the line becomes already a little thicker when we look not at Brenda Lee, but at the discography of the Queen Of Nashville, at Kitty Wells. It seems that Dylan has her 1967 Love Makes The World Go Around on the turntable these days. The title track is quoted verbatim in “I Threw It All Away”;

Love is all there is, it makes the world go ’round
Love and only love, it can’t be denied

… the song in which in any case echo more songs from the Kitty Wells album (“The Hurtin’s All Over”, “There Goes My Everything”). And the final song of the album is Kitty’s version of “Coming On Strong” – again a lament of the abandoned love partner. “All the songs coming out of the studios then were about slut wives cheating on their husbands or vice versa,” as Dylan says in Chronicles about Nashville (Chapter 3 “New Morning”) – a concept Dylan also succumbs to once, here on Nashville Skyline, in the underrated gem “Tell Me That It Isn’t True”.

Kitty Wells’ ultimate contribution to the cheating slut wife and ditto husband genre is also on Love Makes The World Go Around:

Straighten up your tie and comb your hair 
Look as though you spent your time alone
Wash away her lipstick from your collar
Get your lie the way you want it then come on home

… “Get Your Lie The Way You Want It”, the closing track of Side A. In terms of content and theme, it is the opposite of “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You”, but stylistically it is a copy: just like Dylan’s song, it opens with an accumulation of imperatives, of short commands from the first person to the love partner.

The album’s appeal to Dylan is recognisable. The album cover does not mention names of session musicians, but one Nashville Cat who also excels on John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline is not too hard to spot: Pete Drake’s steel guitar dominates half of the songs. In the backing choir we recognise Elvis’ favourite men, The Jordanaires, the unknown duet partner in heartbreaking songs like “The Hurting’s All Over” provides an irresistible Everly Brothers sheen, and tremolo guitar like in “Once” must have taken Dylan back to magical moments from his youth, earth-shattering moments like the first time he heard “Uncloudy Day” by The Staple Singers. The song that shifts a not insignificant part of American rock music history, by the way. John Fogerty honours the monument too, in his autobiography (Fortunate Son, 2015):

“The Staple Singers, “Uncloudy Day.” The sound of that guitar—God, what a cool thing. That vibrato: bewoowowow. Even as a kid I could identify that sound right away. Pops Staples was doing all that. I loved that sound.”

Dylan expresses his admiration somewhat more poetically, of course:

“It was the most mysterious thing I’d ever heard. It was like the fog rolling in. I heard it again, maybe the next night, and its mystery had even deepened. What was that? How do you make that? It just went through me like my body was invisible. What is that? A tremolo guitar? What’s a tremolo guitar? I had no idea, I’d never seen one. And what kind of clapping is that? And that singer is pulling things out of my soul that I never knew were there. After hearing “Uncloudy Day” for the second time, I don’t think I could even sleep that night.”
(AARP The Magazine interview, 2015)

 

An inconspicuous footnote in Kitty Wells’ rich discography, Love Makes The World Go Around. Filled with forgotten songs. But still coming on strong.

 

To be continued. Next up: Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You part 3: Cheating husbands

 

Jochen is a regular reviewer of Dylan’s work on Untold. His books, in English, Dutch and German, are available via Amazon both in paperback and on Kindle:

 

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3 Responses to Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (1969) part 2: Slut wives cheating

  1. Larry fyffe says:

    Relating a relatively recent “car chase” movie ( that actually has a car chase in it) to Dylan’s song “Tonight, I’ll be Staying Here” music then shunning Shakespeare’s lyrical “If he thrives, and I be cast away/The worst was this, my love was my decay” (as it relates to another song), while glamorizing Kitty Wells singing “Beautiful flowers that will never decay/Gathered by angels and carried away” is a too loosely slung together smorgasbord that does not appeal to everybody’s stomach.

  2. Larry fyffe says:

    “It’s such a sad thing to see beauty decay
    It’s sadder still to feel your heat torn away”

  3. Larry fyffe says:

    *heart

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