You're No Good

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"You're No Good"
Single by Dee Dee Warwick
B-side "Don't Call Me"
Released 1963
Format 7" single
Genre R&B
Length 2:30
Label Jubilee 45-5459
Writer(s) Clint Ballard, Jr.
Producer(s) Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

"You're No Good" is a song written by Clint Ballard, Jr. which first charted for Betty Everett in 1963 and became a number 1 hit in 1975 for Linda Ronstadt. The original version of "You're No Good" was cut by Dee Dee Warwick for Jubilee Records in 1963 with production by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Betty Everett version[edit]

"You're No Good"
Single by Betty Everett
B-side "Chained to Your Love"
Released 1963
Format 7" single
Genre R&B
Length 2:18
Label Vee-Jay
Betty Everett singles chronology
"Prince of Players"
"You're No Good"
"The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)"

The song first became a hit in November 1963 when recorded by Betty Everett for Vee-Jay Records of Chicago. The single peaked at number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100, and at number 5 on "Cashbox's R&B Locations" chart.[1]

Vee-Jay's head a&r man Calvin Carter found the song while visiting New York City in search of material for his label's roster and he originally intended to cut "You're No Good" with Dee Clark but, he recalled: "when I went to rehearsal with the tune, it was so negative, I said, 'Hey, guys don't talk negative about girls, because girls are the record buyers. No, I better pass on that.' So I gave the song to Betty Everett." During the playback of Everett's track her label-mates the Dells "were sitting on the wooden platform where the string players would sit... just stomping their feet on this wooden platform to the beat of the song as it was playing back... I told the engineer 'Let's do it again, and let's mic those foot sounds, 'cause it really gave it a hell of a beat.' So we did that, and boom, a hit."[2]

The Swinging Blue Jeans version[edit]

"You're No Good"
Single by The Swinging Blue Jeans
B-side Don't You Worry About Me
Released May 1964
Genre Beat
Label HMV
Producer(s) Walter J. Ridley
The Swinging Blue Jeans singles chronology
"Good Golly Miss Molly"
"You're No Good"
"Promise You'll Tell Her"

In the UK the Swinging Blue Jeans had the hit version of "You're No Good" reaching number 3 in the summer of 1964. Sue Johnston, then PA to Peter Brown, was dating Swinging Blue Jeans drummer Norman Kuhlke and claims that she brought "You're No Good" to the attention of the Swinging Blue Jeans,[3] whose version also charted in France at number 26 and was successful enough regionally in the US to reach number 97 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Linda Ronstadt version[edit]

"You're No Good"
Single by Linda Ronstadt
from the album Heart Like a Wheel
B-side "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)" (w/Emmylou Harris)
Released November 19, 1974
Format 7" single
Genre Rock
Length 3:44
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Clint Ballard, Jr.
Producer(s) Peter Asher
Linda Ronstadt singles chronology
"Love Has No Pride"
"You're No Good"
"When Will I Be Loved"

It was Linda Ronstadt who would have the biggest success with a remake of "You're No Good" for her double platinum career-defining Heart Like A Wheel album released in late 1974 by Capitol Records. Ronstadt had been featuring the song to close her live shows, her band member Kenny Edwards having suggested it to her, the song first being included in Ronstadt's setlist while she was opening for Neil Young during the first three months of 1973: Ronstadt gave an early performance of "You're No Good" on an episode of The Midnight Special which was broadcast December 21, 1973.

Ronstadt recorded her Heart Like a Wheel album with producer Peter Asher in the summer of 1974 at the Sound Factory: "You're No Good" was a last-minute choice for recording, and while the song was Ronstadt's suggestion Asher recalls: "It was an odd coincidence. She’d been doing the song already, and it was always a favorite song of mine...the version I fell in love with [being by] the Swinging Blue Jeans".[4] The original backing track intended for Ronstadt's version of "You're No Good" was recorded July 1, 1974: according to Bob Warford, a guitarist in Ronstadt's touring band who played on the July 1 track: "They were trying to do an R&B version of the song, which was actually closer to the way we did it live than to the released version. We played it at a faster tempo live, which we did on that recording [ie. of July 1]."[4] Ronstadt vetoed the July 1 arrangement: she recalls: "It was just the wrong groove for me. I don’t think I knew how to phrase around [the players] certainly no fault of theirs. They were fantastic."[4]

The final recording of the Ronstadt version of "You're No Good" was made July 5, 1974: Ronstadt would recall: "Ed Black, who played six-string guitar and pedal steel, started to play a rhythm riff on his Les Paul. Kenny Edwards...the bass player...echoed the riff in octaves. Andrew Gold added a sparse drum track, giving me a basic track to sing over. We did a few takes, picked one we liked, and then Andrew, who always played guitars and keyboards went to work with Peter [Asher]and began to work up layers of guitar, piano and percussion tracks." Ronstadt recalls that during a playback after several hours of work Val Garay the engineer accidentally erased Andrew Gold's guitar solo from the track necessitating Asher and Gold's reconstructing that solo from scratch.[5]

In late August 1974 a string arrangement - by Gregory Rose - was added to the track at AIR Studios: according to the Classic Tracks article by Mick Hurwitz at "It ends with a strong, long held note, which Asher conceived, executed by Garay with a slow riding of the level on the string faders during the final mix."[4]

Capitol was unsure whether to release "You're No Good" or "When Will I Be Loved" as the lead single off Heart Like a Wheel, only deciding to release "You're No Good" a week after the album's release; the track ascended to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated February 15, 1975. ("When Will I Be Loved" would be issued as the follow-up single.)[6] The success of "You're No Good" set a precedent for Ronstadt's single releases which over the next five years would virtually all be remakes of classic rock and roll songs. (The B-side of "You're No Good", "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You), was originally by Hank Williams, and was simultaneously a number 2 C&W hit for Ronstadt.) "You're No Good" was also a hit for Linda Ronstadt in Australia (number 15), the Netherlands (number 17), and New Zealand (number 24).

In a 1983 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ronstadt expressed reservations about the recordings she'd made during her 1970s heyday, specifically citing "You're No Good": "I thought the production on 'You're No Good' was very good but [that] I didn't sing it very well. As a song it was just an afterthought. It's not the kind of song I got a lot of satisfaction out of singing."[7]

Preceded by
"Fire" by Ohio Players
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Linda Ronstadt version)
February 15, 1975 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Pick Up the Pieces" by The Average White Band

Other versions[edit]

Artists who have covered "You're No Good" include:


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 193. 
  2. ^ "The Vee-Jay Story, Page 3". Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  3. ^ Johnston, Sue (201). Things I Couldn't Tell My Mother (e-book ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 9781409034698. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Classic Track: You're No Good". Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Ronstadt, Linda (2013). Simple Dreams: a musical memoir (1st hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 96–97. ISBN 978-1-4516-6872-8. 
  6. ^ New York Times 15 November 1974 p.32
  7. ^ Ronstadt Marching to a Different Drum The Deseret News 14 December 1993 p. 4-SO
  8. ^ Sarasota Herald Tribune 21 October 1985 p.94