Dedicated To The One I love
On this occasion, the post is more about the song, than the artist performing it. This song has been around for most of my life, and I never tire of hearing it. It is sentimental, a little slushy, but was written from the heart, and that comes across every time, whoever sings it. This post is about the evolution of this song, how it adapted to different audiences over a decade, and embraced different genres, with little alteration.
In 1957, I was too young to appreciate the original version, and doubt it would even have been played on the radio in the UK at the time anyway. The 5 Royales had been around since 1942, performing in their home state of North Carolina. Member Lowman Pauling co-wrote this song, as well as playing the guitar solo featured. It failed to get any attention at the time, but entered the US charts on re-release, some years later.
In 1960, I was still very young, but by that time my father was working for Pye Records, and I had become very interested in music. Decca Records was releasing new songs from some American artists in the UK around that time. One of these was a version of the Goffin/King song, ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.’ This was by the female vocal group The Shirelles, who arrived on the scene before Motown, or Phil Spector, yet anticipating the rise of the girl groups of both styles. I liked their harmonies, and so did many others. The song was a big hit. I looked into the other songs from this group, and discovered their 1959 version of ‘Dedicated To The One I Love’, a song previously unknown to me. My dad secured me a copy, and I was listening to it before my tenth birthday. I also found out that this was a cover of the original, and tried hard to get a copy of the 5 Royales version, but to no avail. Thanks to You Tube, we can now appreciate it.
I played this song a lot, and to a large extent, it remains the definitive version for me. But that was far from the end of it, for this timeless classic. In 1967, ten years after the original release, the folk harmony group The Mamas & The Papas came along, with a slightly slower, and very impressive version. Known at the time for covering songs, this popular group had a successful career, helped by the contrasting vocals of the sweet-voiced Michelle Phillips, and the powerhouse belting of Mama Cass. For many record buyers, this was the only version they had ever heard.
I still have a soft spot for The Shirelles myself, but this song just wouldn’t go away. The Temprees were a vocal trio from Memphis. They embraced the look and style of the time, with matching outfits, afro hair, and a vocal style borrowed from bands like The Stylistics. During their short career, they unwisely decided to release a cover version of this song in 1972, proceeding to mess it around a bit, and add their own slow-down twist. This was their biggest hit, reaching the top twenty in the US. It didn’t work for me though, and the Temprees disappeared in 1976. (Though they later re-formed in 2000)
A song that endured on record from 1957-1972, as well as on some other cover versions not featured here, and many live performances by diverse artists singing this short love ballad. I’m sticking with The Shirelles, but you might have your own favourite.