John Sieger
Sieger on Songs

Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart

How Lori Burton’s scorched-earth song became a Young Rascals favorite.

By - Apr 24th, 2018 03:49 pm
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The Young Rascals

The Young Rascals

Today songs are are often sung by the people (but not the committees) who write them. There used be a different division of labor — writers wrote and singers sang. Long ago when those writers needed to get their songs to artists, they used sheet music. They even had song pluggers who would sing and play to demonstrate the appeal of the material. That was not a very efficient way of doing business — even with pluggers a lot of meaningful nuance could get lost in delivery. Then sound recording was invented and pitching songs got a lot easier. A good demo passes along more than music and words on a page, in fact many are good enough to release. Today we’re listening to both the demo and hit version of one that stands up quite well, “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore”. It’s performed on this scorched-earth demo by the co-writer, Lori Burton.

Lori and her lyricist, Pam Sawyer, did okay in the early- to mid-1960s when the Brill Building was still cranking out hits for half the people on the Top 40. Judging from what we can hear on this this recording, Lori could have easily been out front like Jackie DeShannon and other writer/performers.

Maybe someone attempted to write this title before, but this version wins the prize. It’s a bit crazy, with words spilling out in a rapid stream of consciousness as the singer gives some feeble excuse for a partner their walking papers. It’s funny and vicious in about equal measure. It was 1965, the second year of Beatlemania and while plenty of young American bands were copying them, there were also a lot of junior Jaggers doing their best to look and sound Stones-y. The key to doing that was to cram as much snottiness as possible into a three minute song. Some kind of teenage edge was in the air, and the girls were not going a to be left out. The Shangri-Las led the way, all leather and sass. They were every parent’s nightmare and every teen boy’s dream. But as tough as they were, I’m not so sure Lori’s group, The Whyte Boots, would have been intimidated.

Here are the words, re-gendered for The Young Rascals. They don’t read half as nasty as they sound.

I think you got the biggest brown eyes
And you know how to part your lips to tantalize, sure
(Yeah) You can get any man you want goin’ and you do it
And don’t say you don’t know you do

Well, baby, I ain’t gonna eat out my heart anymore
I ain’t gonna eat out my heart anymore
So quit it

I love you, I love you, I do, little girl
But you ain’t gonna cheat on me
I need you, I need you, I  really do, girl
Choose, is it him or me (is it him or me)

Just ’cause I ain’t been sayin’ it, girl
You should be ashamed of what I’ve been seein’ – bad
(Yeah) You better watch your step or, girl
You can bet you’re gonna lose the best thing you ever had

Well, baby, I ain’t gonna eat out my heart anymore
I ain’t gonna eat out my heart anymore
So quit it

I love you, I love you, I do, little girl
But you ain’t gonna cheat on me
I need you, I need you, I  really do, girl
Choose, is it him or me (is it him or me)

© Pam Sawyer / Lori Burton

Not all demos spell it out so explicitly. If you need proof of how good this one was, listen to The Young Rascals take, it’s virtually the same. In this video for their first single they’re still wearing the dopey knickers and blousy shirts some misguided manager saddled them with. Forget that and concentrate on what a tight bar band these guys were. Dino Danelli, a stick-twirling show drummer cut from the same cloth as Keith Moon, owned the kit and loved the camera. Fortunately, he was as good as he appeared to be. Gene Cornish and Eddie Brigatti, had been in Joey Dee and the Starlighters with Felix Caviliere. They were in Hamburg with that group when they caught a glimpse of the future in a band called The Beatles. Both bands were on their way to putting in the 10,000 hours author Malcolm Gladwell claims it takes to master something. Back in the states, they left Joey and formed the Rascals, all they had to do was add their Ringo, Dino was close enough.

There was always a bit of smoke coming off Felix and his Hammond B-3. The man had few rivals when it came to blue-eyed soul, and he was usually the featured singer. But on this one it’s Brigatti, master of the double tambourine, showing the world he wasn’t mere decoration. Their next song would be a cover of The Olympics’ “Good Lovin’” and the rest is history.

It’s important to remember that when the punk movement swept through later in the 70’s with all the fervor of the French Revolution, it wasn’t 60’s groups like The Rascals whose heads they were calling for, but the proggy, pretentious and overproduced acts who were sucking all the fun out of things. With as many hits as they had and their place in The Hall Of Fame secured long ago, you’d think The Rascals would be in more conversations when the topic of great 60’s bands comes up — somehow they are not.

Part of the charm of this song is how well it works no matter who’s singing. I wonder if the ultimate girl group tribute, Amy Winehouse, would have eventually graced us with another version of this song? We’ll never know.

A special shout goes to Milwaukee musician and writer Blaine Schultz, who posted Lori’s demo on Facebook last week. It was only a couple days after her brother discovered a copy of the long lost performance.

One thought on “Sieger on Songs: Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart”

  1. Christina Zawadiwsky says:

    The original – sung by Lori Burton – reminds me of The Velvet Underground – but with so much more energy and panache!

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