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Book 2. Give Love A Chance…

Book 2. Give Love A Chance… 

In the Summer of 1966 I was living on East 60th street (just down from a wonderful little shop called “Serendipity”) under the wing of my extraordinary friend Roberta Wolfe, Roberta, was a high fashion, artist girl living on the top floor of, a classy three story Brownstone, owned by the Shubert family when she fell in with me. 

She provided shelter, hugs and human kindness (as well as the brown paper bag that I wrote “Give Love A Chance” on.)We met at Steve Paul’s “The Scene” where I had become the house singer, and she was one of a number of hip New York artist chicks that looked amazing and created magic and excitement (like some pixie dust back draft) every where they went. The Scene was an exciting and very cool environment, full of young up and coming graduates of “Music and Art” (the New York City High School that “FAME” was based on) and hip cool creative folks from every discipline and inclination from London, LA. And everywhere in between. I was ahead of most of the up and comers, in that I had already been signed by Columbia Records, and was being managed by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, two living legends of Rock And Roll.

I was also an anomaly in that I was obviously a ruffian with no formal education who “sang like an angel” a hundred and twenty pounds of passionate pretty white boy from de Islands “who come tu change de worl mon!” 

The extraordinary Roberta and I had a “best of pals” or “sweet pally hearts” or some such, or another “it’s complicated” kind of arrangement. 

The primary complicating factor was that I was “in love” with four other girls, all of whom thought they felt the same about me. (One of them was”Pixie” the beautiful dreamer that was the inspiration for “Give Love A Chance”) Did I mention it was the summer of ’66?. …You can imagine the complications. 

 However, Roberta was also a kind of business partner, I was being managed and produced by Mort Shuman, (who along with Doc Pomus had written (among many others) “Teenager In Love” “Hushabye” “Sweets For My Sweet” “This Magic Moment” and “Save The Last Dance For Me” and yes, “Viva Las Vegas”) Roberta had taken on the “social secretary responsibility” for him of making sure that every thing relating to me and music and business, got done on time. Ah…the dear thing had her hands full.

As noted, I had written “Give Love A Chance” on a brown paper bag at Roberta’s pad and now we were about to record it along with “Tutsie” a song that I had written in honor of my good friend back in the Islands. 

I was ultra serioso about the songs and the upcoming recording session (which was being produced at Associated Studios in NYC, by Mort and the great Kookoolis.) 

So, finally we were at the point where the session was scheduled for 7:00 PM the next evening, In order to be rested and well prepared, I insisted on going to bed around 8:00 PM with my noggin and throat all wrapped up like Caruso. I had jars of honey and slices of lemon all over the place, along with pots of steaming hot water, and countless wrapping towels and wash cloths. In addition, I wanted at least an hour and a half in advance of “Taxi time”, to “tune up the pipes” 

When I opened my peepers the clock said 6:30, I looked out the window and saw it was getting dark, I freaked out. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my battle-axe, flew down the stairs and started hailing taxis, with Roberta steps behind. We jumped into the first one to stop and in a panic I asked the driver, “what time is it, what time is it” He looked back over his shoulder and said, “It’s 6:30 in the morning Bub, whadindahell time do you think it is? Ah..the poor girl. Thank you Roberta for your many kindnesses and please forgive me for my own stupidities. I am sorry. 

I had already done two other singles sessions before” Give Love A Chance” (One for Columbia with Wes Farrel producing, and the other for Big Top Records, with Morty producing) and numerous demo sessions, so I was not a complete novice, however this session was especially important to me, in that these were my own tunes, I thought “Give Love A Chance” might make some difference in the world, and I knew very acutely that my Mother and younger brothers were depending on me to rescue them from want. I was determined that one way or the other, I would come through for them…and the world. 

There were a few things that ping ponged my noggin about the recordings. First, the third (and wrap up) verse of “Give Love A Chance” was eleminated before the record was released because the record (at 3:15) was considered too long for radio play, the ideal time for a single was thought to be 2:15, (I was told that the time preference was based on how many commercials you could fit into the hour..pero yo no se) Also,while I was a relatively experienced singer, I was new at recording my own songs. This created an odd tension for me in that the singer wanted to be free to interpret the song, but the writer felt it was paramount to demonstrate the melody exactly and verbatim. 

On “Tutsie” you can hear this conflict very clearly; I just didn’t know what to do about it. The same conflict shows up again here and there on South Atlantic Blues. The solution ultimately, is to do a fairly exact song demo which then allows one the freedom to “sing it like you wanna” there after. 

The recordings got me signed to BANG Records by Bert Berns ((He wrote Twist and Shout, Hang On Sloopy and many others) Bert was a really hot up and coming writer/record company owner music business impressario, I was one of three singer songwriters that he signed to his label at once. The others were Neil Diamond, and Van Morrison. The others had their breakthrough, but during the week leading up to my first release, Bert Berns had a heart attack and died. It was a sad sad day in the music business; Bert was well liked, and highly regarded, people expected great things from him, as did I… 

 The songs went on to be big jukebox hits in the V.I. Here’s “Give Love A Chance” and below it is “Tutsie” as first recorded in the summer of 1966.

Give Love A Chance 

I know just where you’re at and what you’re going through 

I know uncertainty has won the best of you 

I know you’re lost, and all your friends are too 

And when your crying and you don’t know what to do 

You ought to.. 

Give Love a Chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

Give love a chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

When your tomorrows are the same as yesterday 

And your belief in live has slowly faded way 

When there’s no laughing or..crying anymore 

There’s only sleeping and.. news about the war 

You ought to.. 

Give Love a Chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

Give love a chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

And if you could things would be so much more than right 

Every cross you’re carrying would vanish overnight 

And the days of laughter and tears would come again 

And to your surprise you’d be a winner in the end… 

You ought to… 

Give Love a Chance to make you happy 

And it will and it will 

Give love a chance to make you happy 

and it will and it will 

Here’s “Tutsie 

And a skinny little fellow looks a little bit like me, 

Lives on an Island in the Caribbean sea 

And he drinks straight cane rum from an old calabash 

And with those Island girls, lord he really is a smash 

And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze 

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will. 

He spends all his days cooling out in Trader Dan’s, 

There’s no time for working in my friend Tutsie’s plans 

He wears a pretty flower tucked up in an old straw hat 

But if you should try to fight him, he’d show you where it’s at. 

And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze 

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will. 

I wish I were like Tutsie and could do as I please, 

then I’d be barefoot at the Foxes’ Tamarindo 

And I’d drink straight cane rum from an old calabash 

And with those Island girls, lord, I’d really be a smash 

And I’d live off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

And have fun selling bags of cool Island breeze 

I’d live high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

And someday I’d be a Pirate, you know someday I will. 

After realizing what I had done, I wanted to give the song Tutsie another opportunity to be heard, so I stuck it in the middle of La Beiga Carousel. Here’s the most recent recording of the medley as it appears in “The Virgin Islands Songs”. 

La Beiga Carousel (From Scott Fagan’s “The Virgin Islands Songs”)

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night, 

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night, 

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Come go home come go home Cecebelle, 

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Come go home come go home Cecebelle, 

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel 

And a skinny little fellow looks a little bit like me, 

Lives on an Island in the Caribbean sea 

And he drinks straight cane rum from an old calabash 

And with those Island girls, lord he really is a smash 

And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze 

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will. 

An’ I’ll walk and drink rum whole night, 

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel 

Man I’ll walk and drink rum whole night, 

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel 

And he spends all his days cooling out in Trader Dan’s, 

There’s no time for working in my friend Tutsie’s plans 

He wears a pretty flower tucked up in an old straw hat 

But if you should try to fight him, he’d show you where it’s at. 

And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze 

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will. 

An’ I’ll walk and drink rum whole night, 

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel 

Man I’ll walk and drink rum whole night, 

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel 

And I wish I were like Tutsie and could do as I please, 

then I’d be barefoot at the Foxes’ Tamarindo 

And I’d drink straight cane rum from an old calabash 

And with those Island girls, lord, I’d really be a smash 

And I’d live off the tourists with the greatest of ease, 

And have fun selling bags of cool Island breeze 

I’d live high on a mountain in an old sugar mill 

And someday I’d be a Pirate, you know someday I will. 

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night, 

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night, 

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Come go home come go home Cecebelle, 

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel 

Come go home come go home Cecebelle, 

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel

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