Friday, May 1, 2009

I Can't Let Go, Hollies (1966)

Oh I tried and I tried but I can't say good-bye/Feel so bad baby, oh it hurts me/When I think of how you love and desert me/I'm the broken-hearted toy you play with/You got me goin', I need you baby/I can't let go and I want you baby/I gotta have all your love, I can't let go

In the annals of those songs that depict just how pathetic one can be when on the losing end of love, no one served it up better than the Hollies did with I Can't Let Go. Pop music has never had a shortage of these basket case-type songs, but the Hollies' otherworldly high harmonies made misery sound positively alluring.

Somewhat underrated in comparison to other British Invasion groups, the Hollies were the consummate singles band, their songs almost freakishly stimulating from their upbeat three-part harmonies. I've read in several places that Paul McCartney thought Graham Nash's high note at the end of each chorus in I Can't Let Go was a trumpet! The song is also notable for its fabulous "I know that it's wrong and I should be so strong but the thought of you gone makes me want to hold on" bridge. Great production all the way around.

Another one of those songs that many people, including myself, probably assume was a group original, actually a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based singer named Evie Sands had that distinction the previous year. Sands was allegedly Dusty Springfield's favorite singer. Never heard of her, but what a unique interpretation of the Al Gorgoni-Chip Taylor composition (Taylor, aka James Wesley Voight, uncle of Angelina Jolie) also wrote the Troggs' Wild Thing and Merrilee Rush's Angel of the Morning). Taylor is an interesting figure in the industry to this day - check out this interview to see how many artists he's touched and been influenced by.

Hollies guitarist Tony Hicks, who had a 12-string solo in this, discovered Taylor's song as a demo, and while it wasn't a huge hit in the U.S., in the U.K. it soared to #2. Somehow I remember it very vividly and it's great to discover it again.


cornbread hell said...

i didn't realize graham nash was in the hollies. huh.

wendy said...

You didn't get that memo? ;) Crosby, Stills & Nash was the result of three frustrated artists battling creative & personal issues with their respective bands - Byrds, Buffalo Springfield & Hollies - and having crossed paths at various points, they decided to unite. Graham Nash was not amused when the Hollies decided to do an album of Dylan covers, and that's when he departed for greener pastures.

KarmaSartre said...

I hadn't heard or heard of Evie, quite a revelation. I remember first encountering the Hollies on "Ready Steady Go" on the BBC in 1965. They were singing "I'm Alive", and it was wonderful. Nash incorporated the same scat-like harmonies on the final bit of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes". Also loved Carrie Anne and Bus Stop.

Anonymous said...

Ha, great post.

4 years later and discovering one of the best pop songs I've ever heard. It's go so many stonking things going on in it but the sum is even greater than the parts.