Handy Man (song)

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"Handy Man"
Handy Man label - Jimmy Jones.jpg
Single by Jimmy Jones
B-side"The Search Is Over"
ReleasedDecember 1959
GenreRock and roll[1]
LabelCub (US)
MGM (other)
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Jones, Otis Blackwell
Producer(s)Otis Blackwell
Jimmy Jones singles chronology
"Handy Man"
"Good Timin'"
"Handy Man"
Single by Del Shannon
from the album Handy Man
B-side"Give Her Lots of Lovin'"
Released1964 (1964)
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Jones, Otis Blackwell
Del Shannon singles chronology
"Mary Jane"
"Handy Man"
"Do You Want to Dance"
"Handy Man"
Handy Man JT Dutch single cover.jpg
Dutch cover
Single by James Taylor
from the album JT
B-side"Bartender's Blues"
ReleasedJune 1977 (June 1977)
GenreSoft rock
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Jones, Otis Blackwell
Producer(s)Peter Asher
James Taylor singles chronology
"Woman's Gotta Have It"
"Handy Man"
"Your Smiling Face"

"Handy Man" is a song written by singer Jimmy Jones and songwriter Otis Blackwell. Recordings by Del Shannon and also The Sparks Of Rhythm list Charles Merenstein as a co-writer, as does BMI. The Sparks Of Rhythm version on the Apollo 541 single version released in 1959 credits Andrew Barksdale and Merenstein as writers omitting Jimmy Jones. The song is noted for Jones singing "Come-a, come-a come-a come-a, come come-a, yeah" lyrics, which are heard at the beginning as well as in the coda of the song, before the song's fade.

It was originally recorded by The Sparks Of Rhythm, a group Jones had been a member of when he wrote it, although he was not with them when they recorded it. That version was in a minor key, and had a completely different melody. When Jimmy Jones recorded it, the song was changed to a major key, with a completely different melody. In 1959, Jones recorded the song himself, in a version which had been reworked by Blackwell,[2] who also produced the session. In addition, Blackwell also provided the whistling, which is prominently heard throughout the whole song. "Handy Man" reached No. 3 on the R&B charts and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960 behind Theme from A Summer Place by Percy Faith, becoming a million seller.[3]

The song was a hit again in 1964, reaching No. 22 for Del Shannon and yet again in 1977 for James Taylor. Taylor's version peaked at #1 in September, 1977 on the RPM Top Singles chart.[4]

Measured in terms of popularity on any chart, Taylor's version of the song was the most successful. It reached No. 2 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart Taylor's version also earned him his second Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Male.[5] Taylor's version featured Leah Kunkel as backup singer, singing the "comma comma" sections in harmony, which is heard after the second verse as well as in the coda of the song.

Allmusic critic Jason Elias compares Jones' original with Taylor's version stating that "where Jones’s version was chipper and a little obnoxious," Taylor's version "is so laid back it’s almost somnolent."[5] Elias notes that Taylor's slowed down version has the benefit of allowing him to shade the words in new ways.[5] Elias also praises Taylor's guitar playing.[5]

James Taylor version personnel[edit]

Other versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jahn, Mike (1973). Rock: from Elvis Presley to the Rolling Stones. Quadrangle.
  2. ^ "The Otis Blackwell Interview". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 307.
  4. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7740". RPM. 17 September 1977. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Elias, J. "Handy Man". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  6. ^ "Release: The John Peel Session - Frank Black & Teenage Fanclub (November 24, 1997)". Second Hand Songs. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  7. ^ "Karma Chameleon by Culture Club Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  8. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". Rolling Stone. November 16, 1989. Retrieved 4 November 2016.