Love Is Strange

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This article is about Mickey & Sylvia. For other uses, see Love Is Strange (disambiguation).
"Love is Strange"
Single by Mickey & Sylvia
B-side "I'm Going Home"
Released November 1956 (1956-11)[1]
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded October 17, 1956[2]
Genre Rock and roll, rhythm and blues
Length 2:52
Label Groove
Writer(s) Mickey Baker, Sylvia Vanderpool, Ethel Smith
Producer(s) Bob Rolontz[2]
Mickey & Sylvia singles chronology
"No Good Lover" "Love Is Strange"
(1956)
"There Oughta Be a Law"
(1957)

"Love is Strange" was a crossover hit by American rhythm and blues duet Mickey & Sylvia, which was released in late November 1956 by the Groove record label.[1]

The song was based on a guitar riff by Jody Williams. The song was written by Bo Diddley under the name of his wife at the time, Ethel Smith, and was recorded by Bo and Buddy Holly, among others. The guitar riff was also used by Dave "Baby" Cortez in his 1962 instrumental song "Rinky Dink", also credited to Diddley.

Background and recordings[edit]

At a concert at Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. Mickey and Sylvia heard Jody Williams play a guitar riff that Williams had played on Billy Stewart's debut single "Billy's Blues".[3] "Billy's Blues" was released as a single in June 1956 and the instrumentation combined a regular blues styling with Afro-Cuban styling.[4] Sylvia Robinson claims that she and Mickey Baker wrote the lyrics, while Bo Diddley claims that he wrote them.

The first recorded version of "Love Is Strange" was performed by Bo Diddley, who recorded his version on May 24, 1956 with Jody Williams on lead guitar. This version was not released until its appearance on I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955–1958 in 2007.[5] Mickey & Sylvia's version was recorded several months later on October 17, 1956.[2] A second Mickey & Sylvia studio recording, recorded some years after, featured now-legendary drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on his first paid session gig.[6][7][8]

The song is noted for its spoken dialogue section which goes as follows:

"Sylvia!"

"Yes, Mickey."

"How do you call your Lover Boy?"

"Come here, Lover Boy!"

"And if he doesn't answer?"

"Oh, Lover Boy!"

"And if he still doesn't answer?"

"I simply say..."

(Sung) "Baby/ Oh baby/ My sweet baby/ You're the one."

(The sung part is repeated with Mickey singing the harmony.)

(This is followed by a repeat of the instrumental section before the song's fade.)

Charts and accolades[edit]

"Love Is Strange" peaked at #1 Billboard magazine's R&B Singles chart and #11 on the Hot 100.[9] In 2004 "Love Is Strange" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for its influence as a rock and roll single.[10]

Cover versions[edit]

Full covers and adaptations[edit]

Year Artist Chart(s) and peak Notes
1965 The Everly Brothers UK chart (#11) This rendition was released on their Beat & Soul album
1967 Peaches & Herb Billboard' Hot 100 (#13) and R&B Singles (#16) This version features the spoken dialogue and the repeated phrases, similar to the Mickey and Sylvia version.[11]
1969 Buddy Holly Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (#115) and RPM 100 (#76) Recorded in the 1950s, this version of "Love is Strange" was not released until 1969, a decade after Holly's death.[12]
1971 Paul McCartney Was almost released as a single, pulled back for release of Give Ireland Back To The Irish Released on McCartney's Wings album Wild Life
1975 Buck Owens and Susan Raye Broke the Top 20 country chart.
1990 Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton U.S. country singles chart (#21) The cover was the title cut of Rogers' Love Is Strange album, and was also released as a single
1992 Everything but the Girl Released as the first track on their Acoustic album.

Samplings[edit]

Part of the song was sampled for the song "Rinky Dink" by Bill Justis and for the 2012 Pitbull hit "Back in Time".

In popular culture[edit]

The song was featured in Dirty Dancing and included on the soundtrack, which is one of the best-selling albums of all time.

It also gained a following after appearing in Deep Throat. The song was also featured in Casino, and the Terrence Malick film Badlands.[13] The song also is played in the 2000 HBO hit show The Sopranos, season two, episode 6 (The Happy Wanderer).

Mickey and Sylvia's version is heard in a 2013 TV commercial for Nationwide Insurance.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ackerman, Paul, ed. (November 24, 1956). "Reviews of New R&B Records". Billboard 68 (47): 48. Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Love is Strange" b/w "Love is a Treasure" by Mickey & Sylvia. RCA Victor 45 RPM (447-0599).
  3. ^ Dahl, Bill. Jody William's Biography at AllMusic. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  4. ^ Ackerman, Paul, ed. (June 16, 1956). "Reviews of New R&B Records". Billboard 68 (24): 44. Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  5. ^ I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955–1958 (CD liner). Bo Diddley. United States: Hip-O Select. 2007. B0009231-02. 
  6. ^ http://jazztimes.com/articles/65908-mickey-baker-a-tough-customer-who-never-lost-his-edge
  7. ^ Bernard " Pretty " Purdie, Let The Drums Speak!,2014, page 55.
  8. ^ Interview with Purdie in Drum Magazine, 1992. http://www.drummagazine.com/features/post/bernard-purdie-the-session-legend/
  9. ^ "Charts & Awards: Mickey & Sylvia – Billboard Singles". AllMusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Grammy Hall of Fame (Letter L)". Grammys. United States: National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Charts & Awards: Peaches & Herb – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 11, No. 13, May 26, 1969" (PHP). Library and Archives Canada. March 31, 2004. 
  13. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069762/?ref_=ttsnd_snd_tt

External links[edit]