You're No Good
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|"You're No Good"|
|Single by Dee Dee Warwick|
|B-side||"Don't Call Me"|
|Writer(s)||Clint Ballard, Jr.|
|Producer(s)||Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller|
"You're No Good" is a song written by Clint Ballard, Jr., first performed by Dee Dee Warwick for Jubilee Records in 1963 with production by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It has since been covered by many artists, including charting versions by Betty Everett in 1963, The Swinging Blue Jeans in 1964, and Linda Ronstadt in 1975, whose version was a number 1 hit in the United States.
Betty Everett version
|"You're No Good"|
|Single by Betty Everett|
|B-side||"Chained to Your Love"|
|Betty Everett singles chronology|
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.
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."
The Swinging Blue Jeans version
|"You're No Good"|
|Single by The Swinging Blue Jeans|
|B-side||"Don't You Worry About Me"|
|Producer(s)||Walter J. Ridley|
|The Swinging Blue Jeans singles chronology|
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. Their 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
|"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|
|Writer(s)||Clint Ballard, Jr.|
|Linda Ronstadt singles chronology|
Linda Ronstadt began performing "You're No Good" to close her live shows in early 1973, after her band member Kenny Edwards suggested it to her. She first included it in her setlist while opening for Neil Young. Ronstadt gave an early televised 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". 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]." 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."
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.
In late August 1974 a string arrangement - by Gregory Rose - was added to the track at AIR Studios. According to a Classic Tracks article by Mick Hurwitz at MixOnline.com: "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."
Capitol Records 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.
Reception and legacy
Linda Ronstadt's version of "You're No Good" became the song's most successful cover. The track ascended to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated February 15, 1975. "You're No Good" was also an international hit for Ronstadt, reaching number 15 in Australia, number 17 in the Netherlands, and number 24 in New Zealand. The B-side of "You're No Good", "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You), originally sung by Hank Williams, also charted and was simultaneously a number 2 C&W hit for Ronstadt. "When Will I Be Loved" was then issued as the follow-up single.
Buoyed in part by the success of "You're No Good", the album Heart Like a Wheel, which was released in late 1974, was a major success, and eventually went double platinum. It was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
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.
In a 1983 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ronstadt expressed reservations about the recordings she had 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."
"Fire" by Ohio Players
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Linda Ronstadt version)
February 15, 1975 (one week)
"Pick Up the Pieces" by The Average White Band
Artists who have covered "You're No Good" include:
- Graham Bonney
- Alma Cogan (unreleased)
- Elvis Costello
- Dusty Springfield
- Ike & Tina Turner
- Reba McEntire
- The Muppets
- Jose Feliciano
- Michael Bolton as Michael Bolotin
- Ellie Campbell
- Keith Hampshire
- Jill Johnson
- Rosie & The Originals
- Annie Schilder (nl)
- Floortje Smit
- Van Halen (on Van Halen II)
- Wild Orchid.
- The 2004 album release California by Wilson Phillips contains a version of "You're No Good" which like the Ronstadt version was produced by Peter Asher but radically reinvents the song.
- International renderings include Finnish versions, "Olet Paha", a 1964 single release by Eddy and the Boys, and "Paha Oot" on the 1975 album Bimbo by Marion Rung.
- The Plastiscines' 2009 cover version from their album About Love was featured on season 6 episode 3 of True Blood, "You're No Good".
- Genya Ravan has indicated she vainly attempted to interest the producer of her 1974 album Goldie Zelkovitz in the idea of a remake of "You're No Good". Maria Muldaur, discussing in a 1985 interview how she "didn't go out of [her] way to find followup hits" to her 1973-74 breakthrough "Midnight at the Oasis", cited "You're No Good" when explaining: "I've turned down songs that have gone on to be hits for other people because I thought the lyrics were negative or neurotic".
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 193.
- "The Vee-Jay Story, Page 3". Bsnpubs.com. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
- Johnston, Sue (201). Things I Couldn't Tell My Mother (e-book ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 9781409034698.
- "Classic Track: You're No Good". MixOnline.com. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- Ronstadt, Linda (2013). Simple Dreams: a musical memoir (1st hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 96–97. ISBN 978-1-4516-6872-8.
- New York Times 15 November 1974 p.32
- "Ronstadt Marching to a Different Drum", The Deseret News, 14 December 1993 p. 4-SO
- [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002]
- David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992"
- Sarasota Herald Tribune 21 October 1985 p.94