I go back and forth on whether the lyrics match the music. This version (the original, which many consider to be one of the best songs ever) just seems a little too happy for me. I just don’t think songs about heartache should make you want to dance. But at the same time, it could be more of a “I just dumped and that kind of sucks, but it’s not the biggest deal. It’s not gonna keep me locked in my room all day, weeping. I’ve got places to walk.” which makes me wonder if maybe it’s Hayes taking the break-up a little too intensely.
Because Hayes’s version is just totally devastating. He just seems miserable. I mean, Isaac Hayes is someone who would pretty much embody macho masculinity because of Shaft, but “Walk on By” is a twelve minute song about crying. And you gotta figure, if something would make Shaft* cry, then it’s probably pretty much the saddest thing ever. And it’s really only in relation to Hayes’s take that you’d think of leveling the charge that Warwick’s isn’t sad enough.
And if “not sad enough” is the criticism you have for a song, maybe it’s a pretty awesome song. And The Warwick/Bacharach version is as famous as it is for a reason. That piano that kicks in when she “break[s] down and cr[ies]” is just perfect. As is the single horn, which I suppose has a little bit of loneliness to it. Definitely a gem, and you don’t have to look down on it just because Hayes’s version is better. Hayes’s version is better than most good things.
It’s only Monday of “Walk On By” week. And we’ve got the obvious ones out of the way, so now who knows what’ll happen next.
*Yeah I know Hayes wasn’t actually Shaft, but “shut your mouth.”
I spent most of this weekend with my extended family celebrating the life of my great-aunt Ayee, who died in July. Apart from the stories passed around about the lady herself, there was quite a bit of talk about Our Family in general, including an inspection of the family tree (names I now plan on inflicting on my children: Peregrine, Zebedee, Lavater, &c.), and lots of references to our long-standing ties to Vermont.
BUT most importantly: apparently my great-great-times-a-hundred grandfather was not only the first child born to the Pilgrims upon reaching the “New World”, he was also the first person arrested in the Plymouth colony for public drunkenness.
HANNAH GREEN Oh, James is amazing. He knows all the movie suicides. Go ahead, James. Tell them who else.
JAMES LEER There's so many...
HANNAH GREEN Just a few then. The big ones.
James glances at the loose group of people around him, watching, then...
JAMES LEER Pier Angeli, 1971 or '72, also pills. Charles Boyer, 1978, pills again. Charles Butterworth, 1946, I think. In a car. Supposedly it was an accident, but, you know. . . (a trace of irony) He was distraught. Dorothy Dandridge, she took pills in, like, 1965. Albert Dekker, 1968, he hung himself. He wrote his suicide note in lipstick on his stomach. Alan Ladd, '64, more pills, Carole Landis, pills again, I forget when. George Reeves, Superman on TV, shot himself. Jean Seberg/ pills of course, 1979. Everett Sioane-- he was good--pills. Margaret Sullavan, pills, Lupe Velez, a lot of pills. Gig Young. He shot himself and his wife in 1978. There are more but I don't know if you would have heard of them.