Monday, October 7, 2013

Song of the Week: Slim Harpo - Rainin' In My Heart/Don't Start Crying Now

Rainin' In My Heart
Don't Start Cryin' Now
Slim Harpo is a curious music figure. He barely registers for blues fans, but he was a huge influence on rock musicians. More specifically, the British Invasion musicians who mined the blues for their own material. 

Born John Isaac Moore, our hero today grew up in rural Louisiana and moved to New Orleans to work the docks at the height of World War II in 1942. There Moore labored away in relative anonymity, a laborer, not a musician. He played harmonica in his church band and occasionally played guitar for them as well. Anonymity was the word for many, many years. Then, sometime in the mid-50s, Louisiana blues man, Lightnin' Slim noticed John Isaac Moore in the church band and asked him to accompany him. It was with Lightnin' Slim that John Isaac Moore became known, first, as Harmonica Slim, and then later as Slim Harpo.

At age 33, Slim Harpo released his first single on the local Excello Records label in the Summer of 1957. That maiden record featured two originals,  I'm A King Bee/I've Got Love If You Want It. John Isaac Moore was no more and the anonymity was gone.  I'm a King Bee would be recorded by The Rolling Stones for their first full length release in '64. Similarly, the Flip-Side of Harpo's first single, I've Got Love If You Want It would be covered by The Kinks and plagiarized by The Who (as I'm The Face). The Rolling Stones and Dave Edmunds would later go on to cover Harpo's 1996 number, Shake Your Hips and the Yardbirds would plagiarize another of Harpo's 1966 singles, Baby Scratch My Back (The Yardbirds rechristened the number as Rack My Mind). Countless other European bands picked up on the covers by the Stones and Kinks in particular, and covered their versions, likely never hearing Harpo's originals. And the Moody Blues took their name from one of Harpo's songs. 

But we focus today on Slim Harpo's third single, also on Excello Records, from January of 1961. Recorded in the small town of Crowley, Louisiana, it would be Slim Harpo's first release to chart on the US R&B charts and the first single of his to see a release in the UK. The number is Rainin' In My Heart/Don't Start Cryin' Now. Both numbers written by Slim Harpo. Rainin' In My Heart would be covered by The Pretty Things in '65 and Don't Start Cryin' Now would be covered by Van Morrison's Them as the Flip-Side of their first release in '64.

Even if Slim Harpo never attained fame, never became a household name, his impact was felt far beyond his native Louisiana. Enjoy.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side. 

No comments:

Post a Comment