Sunday, April 09, 2006


This six-pack salute to Gene Pitney covers some of his more sublime weirdness, since you can get his teenage Frankie Laine ("The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance") and brilliant East Coast chipmunk Orbison ("Half Heaven Half Heartbreak") elsewhere.

I'm giving you Gene's GERMAN version of "Town Without Pity." At the time of release critics actually complained about the awful theme song played on the juke box. Now it's the nicest thing about a movie in which Kirk Douglas announces "I think I have to throw up."

"Mecca." With wonderful wacky Middle-East backing, Gene tells us that any place his hottie calls home is MECCA. Bet she wasn't wearing a BURKA. It's still a pretty ill idea for a song, isn't it? Try: "Any place my baby the Beth-Israel Synagogue!" Too bad Gene didn't record for "Decca." The possibilities....

"24 Hours From Tulsa" isn't ill? It is, if you have a dirty mind. Gene is flirting with some bimbo; he wants to find someplace to eat. "...And she showed me where." I rest my case.

"E Quando Vedrai La Mia Ragazza, Lei Me Aspetta, I Tuoi Anni Piu Belli, Amici Mei" are Gene singing in Italian. What fun! Like Orbison, he was appreciated far more in Europe and so he often sang in foreign languages. As for "Donna Means Heartbreak" well, she "ran around like there was no tomorrow." That's sluttier than Mad Donna in the 80's. Why, at midnight she sat on a fire hydrant and sank all the way down. Dig the marimba somberly letting us know Donna esta baja. Y una puta. Gene's singles always had inventive orchestrations.

Since you'll want a true rarity, here's a 1959 single done by "Jamie and Gene" (Jamie was Ginny could've been Ginny and Gene but that's too cute). The song is "Classical Rock and Roll," a silly attempt to bridge the generation gap by saying Beethoven and Co. had some value.

Here in tribute to a nice guy who stayed married to his school sweetie, and stayed based in Connecticut, is the odd side of Gene, a man with a voice so unique you sometimes wondered what speed your turntable was set at. The New York Post's headline was: "Town without Pitney," but you shouldn't be without some.

A pack o' Pitney

1 comment:

Donna Lethal said...

any chance of a repost of "Donna Means Heartbreak"?!