Lovin’ Spoonful – Darling Be Home Soon

In the 1980s I had a Lovin’ Spoonful Greatest hits on vinyl made by a small Nashville record company my friend worked at called Gusto Records. After listening to their many hits…this is the one that I zeroed in on. They had bigger hits but this is one of my favorite songs by the Lovin’ Spoonful.

John Sebastion sings it so desperately and sincere that it hooked me.

John Sebastian wrote this ballad for Francis Ford Coppola’s You’re A Big Boy Now, a coming-of-age film. Sebastian was responsible for the whole soundtrack but was tasked to write this specific song for an important love scene. He started thinking about all the songs that dealt with lonely musicians on the road and decided to flip the concept and write about a guy waiting for his girlfriend to come home.

Unfortunately, the movie was largely ignored. The song was mostly forgotten until Sebastian revived it during his performance at Woodstock in 1969.

The song peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100 and #44 in the UK in 1967.

From Songfacts

“From the singer’s perspective, the verses are pleas for a partner to spend a few minutes talking before leaving,” Sebastian explained to Marc Myers for the book Anatomy of a Song. “What made the song interesting is that you never knew if the other person was actually there listening or was already gone.”

After hitching a ride with the helicopter carrying The Incredible String Band’s equipment, Sebastian arrived at the Woodstock festival thinking he’d just be a spectator. But an early afternoon downpour flooded the stage and it needed to be cleared of water before Santana’s amps could be set up. Michael Lang, the concert’s producer, asked Sebastian to fill in. He took the stage in a tie-dyed white denim outfit and sang five songs, the fourth being “Darling Be Home Soon.” He recalled: “The audience didn’t identify the song with the movie, since most probably hadn’t seen it. Instead, they sort of quieted down and took it in as a love song. My job wasn’t to incite but to mellow everyone out until the stage was swept. When I finished, the applause from so many people was loud and wide, and knocked the wind out of me. The feeling was delicious.”

The Lovin’ Spoonful recorded this with a studio orchestra in just one day. The next morning, however, Sebastian was horrified to learn his vocal take had accidentally been erased and had to be re-recorded. “I did that right away, with the wound still fresh,” he said. “What you hear on the record is me, a half hour after learning that my original vocal track had been erased. You can even hear my voice quiver a little at the end. That was me thinking about the vocal we lost and wanting to kill someone.”

Zal Yanovsky, the band’s lead guitarist, hated the song. He thought it was too sappy and accused Sebastian of losing his rock edge. During one live performance, Zal can be seen clownishly mocking the frontman as he sings the heartfelt lyrics.

This was used on the CBS crime drama Cold Case in the 2010 episode “Free Love.”

Several artists have covered this, including Bobby Darin, Joe Cocker, Slade, The Association, and Bruce Hornsby.

Darling Be Home Soon

Come
And talk of all the things we did today
Here
And laugh about our funny little ways
While we have a few minutes to breathe
Then I know that it’s time you must leave

But, darling, be home soon
I couldn’t bear to wait an extra minute if you dawdled
My darling, be home soon
It’s not just these few hours, but I’ve been waiting since I toddled
For the great relief of having you to talk to

And now
A quarter of my life is almost past
I think I’ve come to see myself at last
And I see that the time spent confused
Was the time that I spent without you
And I feel myself in bloom

So, darling, be home soon
I couldn’t bear to wait an extra minute if you dawdled
My darling, be home soon
It’s not just these few hours, but I’ve been waiting since I toddled
For the great relief of having you to talk to

So, darling
My darling, be home soon
I couldn’t bear to wait an extra minute if you dawdled
My darling, be home soon
It’s not just these few hours, but I’ve been waiting since I toddled
For the great relief of having you to talk to

Go
And beat your crazy head against the sky
Try
And see beyond the houses and your eyes
It’s okay to shoot the moon

Darling be home soon
I couldn’t bear to wait an extra minute if you dawdled
My darling, be home soon
It’s not just these few hours, but I’ve been waiting since I toddled
For the great relief of having you to talk to

 

Lovin’ Spoonful – Nashville Cats

In 1966, Bob Dylan did something extraordinary when he went to Nashville to record an album. He left his band behind, in order to record with session players known as the Nashville Cats. That album he made was a masterpiece, ‘Blonde on Blonde”.

John Sebastian apparently held Nashville musicians in high esteem. According to one account, the song developed after the Lovin’ Spoonful was in Nashville for a concert, and while sitting at a bar, were blown away by the guitar playing of Danny Gatton. Sebastian wrote the song and it peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

John Sebastian on writing the song…it is a bit long but interesting:

It happened to me quite by accident. First of all I was a tremendous fan of the music coming out of Nashville and the south at that time. Sometimes it was Memphis or Muscle Shoals but I didn’t know that, I was just responding to the music. I knew that when you cut records here, you could finish an album in a day in a half! But the ‘Spoonful played in Nashville in ’65 or so. We finished our show at the Fairgrounds Auditorium–the biggest thing in town. We felt pretty good about it and went back to the Holiday Inn and to the beer bar in the basement and get some beers and this guy comes in–goes and sits in the corner. There wasn’t even a stage. He pulls out a guitar and he is absolutely stunning. He starts off with something Chet Aktins-y and then he starts to get these bends and pedal steel tones and then multiple bends and then more jazz chords. Now we’re in “hillbilly jazz.” By the time this guy finished, me and (Lovin’ Spoonfuls) Zal Yanovsky we went up to our room. In those days, the ‘Spoonful were still sharing rooms, and we sit on the edge of our beds and go ‘How could this be?’ We are playing the big joint in town and this guy is in a beer bar. He can play rings around us. How does this work? Are we just four guys with long hair? It was years before we figured out that the kid had been a young Danny Gatton making spare change. But it traumatized us for a while.

The song actually was written a couple of weeks after our Nashville encounter. I was in Long Island somewhere. I saw an album cover –years later–Zal and I were in a record store–and I go “Oh my God, this is the guy from the beer bar.” Danny Gatton fans have sent me a stack of his cds and I can’t understand how he did the first damn thing (laughs).

 

From Songfacts

This song is a celebration of the remarkable musicianship of Nashville, Tennessee guitar pickers who have been “Playin’ since they’s babies.” John Sebastian held for the Nashville musicians in very high esteem.

The lyrics refer to the Sun Records company. While Sun was best known for first recording Elvis Presley, it also released songs by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison

Nashville Cats

[Chorus]
Nashville cats, play clean as country water
Nashville cats, play wild as mountain dew
Nashville cats, been playin’ since they’s babies
Nashville cats, get work before they’re two

Well, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar pickers in Nashville
And they can pick more notes than the number of ants
On a Tennessee ant hill
Yeah, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar cases in Nashville
And any one that unpacks ‘is guitar could play
Twice as better than I will

Yeah, I was just thirteen, you might say I was a
Musical proverbial knee-high
When I heard a couple new-sounding tunes on the tubes
And they blasted me sky-high
And the record man said every one is a yellow sun
Record from Nashville
And up north there ain’t nobody buys them
And I said, “But I Will”

And it was

[Chorus]

Well, there’s sixteen thousand eight hundred ‘n’ twenty one
Mothers from Nashville
All their friends play music, and they ain’t uptight
If one of the kids will
Because it’s custom made for any mothers son
To be a guitar picker in Nashville
And I sure am glad I got a chance to say a word about
The music and the mothers from Nashville

[Chorus]

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