Patches (Chairmen of the Board song)

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"Patches" by Clarence Carter.jpeg
Single by Clarence Carter
B-side "Say It One More Time"
Released July 1970
Format 7"
Recorded 1970
Genre Soul, southern soul
Length 3:10
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Ron Dunbar, General Johnson
Producer(s) Rick Hall
Clarence Carter singles chronology
"I Can't Leave Your Love Alone"
"It's All In Your Mind"

"Patches" (sometimes known as "Patches (I'm Depending On You)")[1] is a country soul song written by General Johnson and Ron Dunbar and best known in the 1970 hit version by Clarence Carter. It won the 1971 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song.

Chairmen of the Board[edit]

The song was written by General Johnson, the lead singer of Chairmen of the Board, with Ron Dunbar, who worked in A&R and record production at the Invictus record label, owned and overseen by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, formerly of Motown. Dunbar was often credited with co-writing hit songs at Invictus with "Edyth Wayne", a pseudonym used by Holland-Dozier-Holland during the time when they were in legal dispute with Motown and its music publishing arm Jobete to which they had been contracted.[2]

The song tells a story about how a boy born and raised in poverty in Alabama "on a farm way back up in the woods" took over responsibility for his family from his dying father. "Patches" was included on Chairmen of the Board's first album, The Chairmen of the Board (later reissued as Give Me Just a Little More Time), and was the B-side of the group's July 1970 single, "Everything's Tuesday", their third chart hit.[3][4]

Clarence Carter[edit]

The blind southern soul singer Clarence Carter heard the song, later saying: "I heard it on the Chairmen of the Board LP and liked it, but I had my own ideas about how it should be sung. It was my idea to make the song sound real natural..."[5] Initially he thought "that it would be degrading for a black man to sing a song so redolent of subjugation" but was persuaded to do so by record producer Rick Hall, who told him that it related to his own personal history as he was growing up.[6]

Carter recorded the song at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with Hall as producer and musicians including Junior Lowe (guitar), Jesse Boyce (bass), and Freeman Brown (drums).[5] Carter's recording was released in July 1970 and was described by a Billboard reviewer as a "powerful blues item" featuring a "blockbuster vocal work-out".[7] The record rose to #4 on the Hot 100,[8] #2 on the R&B chart,[9] and #2 on the UK singles chart.[10]

Following Carter's success, the song won the 1971 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song for its writers, Johnson and Dunbar.[11]

Other versions[edit]

A reggae version was recorded late in 1970 by The Rudies, later known as Greyhound. Another version by Canadian country singer Ray Griff reached #26 on the US country music chart the same year. The song was also recorded by Jerry Reed in 1982, and by George Jones and B. B. King on the album Rhythm, Country and Blues in 1994.[12]

In 1984, the song was rewritten in Portuguese as "Marvin" by the Brazilian band Titãs.[12] A later acoustic recording of the song, featured on the album Titãs - Acústico MTV, became popular in Brazil.

A parody version of the song performed by Joe Cumia, brother of Anthony Cumia of Opie and Anthony fame, titled "Black Earl" was often played on the Ron and Fez show.


  1. ^ "Patches" on Gusto label, Retrieved 6 September 2014
  2. ^ Bob Dennis, "Our Motown Recording Heritage - Part 16", Recording Engineers Quarterly, 2002. Retrieved 6 September 2014
  3. ^ Hamilton, Andrew. "Give Me Just a Little More Time - Chairmen of the Board". Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Everything's Tuesday"' Retrieved 6 September 2014
  5. ^ a b "Patches", Retrieved 6 September 2014
  6. ^ Mick Brown, "Deep Soul: How Muscle Shoals became music's most unlikely hit factory", The Telegraph, 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2014
  7. ^ Billboard, 11 July 1970, p.80. Retrieved 6 September 2014
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 111. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 67. 
  10. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 133. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 
  11. ^ Grammy Awards 1971. Retrieved 6 September 2014
  12. ^ a b "Patches", Retrieved 6 September 2014