I’ve been working on the next chapter of “We Make a Little History” (a “history” of us that I’ve been slowly creating as a post series), and it has taken me back to the beginnings and all our “firsts”. So many songs flood my mind and memories while I revisit the start of our love. Today, one of the songs he sent me (we trade songs when we are apart, something we’ve done since before we met in person) was a track that took me back to the start, and back around the time, I’m writing about. I’ve played it a few times already and had to stop and take a break from the next installment in order to do a Song of the Day, because this song that he sent to me this afternoon needs to be today’s Song of the Day, without a doubt.
“If You Need Me” was originally recorded by Wilson Pickett, in 1963. It became a bigger hit later by Solomon Burke, who sent the song to #2 on the R&B charts that year. (from Wikipedia)
Today’s Song of the Day is the original, by Wilson Pickett, the version that my love sent me today, and the version I remember him sending me at the start of our relationship. The version that is one of “our” songs, one of the many that will be with us always. Though the Burke version is great, this version, the original, is my favorite – especially since it is full of so many memories of us.
“If You Need Me” (1963) by Wilson Pickett
Song of the Day
“If You Need Me” was written by Wilson Pickett with two former members of the Satintones, Robert Bateman and Sonny Sanders. It was recorded originally by Pickett on March 15, 1963, for Lloyd Price’s Detroit-based Double L Records. It had been rejected by Jerry Wexler, who nevertheless had purchased the publishing rights. According to Solomon Burke, Pickett gave the song to him on a tour bus:
“Wilson sang the song for me in a bus on a tour. I loved it so much that I got Wilson to do it. Atlantic refused to sign him at that time, so we got Wilson to release the song on the Lloyd-Logan label. We were the best of friends. As a matter of fact, I promoted his record and he promoted mine.”
However, Pickett claims Wexler lifted it from demo tapes he had sent to Atlantic. Burke recalled in 2003:
“I was furious when Wexler rejected Pickett [and] when radio personality the Magnificent Montague started spinning Pickett’s original version, Wexler rushed out Burke’s, with both in Billboard’s ‘Singles Review’ column on April 13 and both featured on Billboard’s ‘Artists’ Biographies’ on May 4, 1963.”
Although Burke ultimately won the chart war, Burke broke rank and supported his rival:
“I would go to the radio stations and say, ‘Hi, I’m Solomon Burke, and I’m here promoting the new record “If You Need Me”…by Wilson Pickett.’”
“If You Need Me” by Solomon Burke
Despite his efforts, Burke’s version jockeyed with Pickett’s for position in the ‘Hot 100’, before “beating Pickett to the punch” because of “Solomon’s popularity and Atlantic’s distribution.” Both versions featured Cissy Houston singing backup vocals.
Although he was still angry, in 1964, Pickett signed with Atlantic because he needed the money. While Burke’s version spent 5-weeks at #2 in the R&B charts in the Summer of 1963, it was kept from the #1 position by Jackie Wilson’s “Baby Workout” and Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night”. Pickett’s original stalled at #64 in the Pop charts, and #30 on the R&B chart.
I still prefer Pickett’s, and it will always feature high in the “charts” of our songs.
One more cover for the end of today’s Song of the Day. This one by The Rolling Stones. Enjoy.