Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In the early '60s, when answer songs were very popular, it seemed like nearly every big hit was answered by someone.

What are some notable ones from that period?
—Jamie Kendell, Sandusky, Ohio

DEAR JAMIE: First, be assured we will not confuse answer songs with sequels (e.g., "It's My Party" / "Judy's Turn to Cry" [Lesley Gore]), or parodies (e.g., "Downtown" [Petula Clark] / "Crazy Downtown" [Allan Sherman]); all of which are often lumped in with answer songs.

A true answer song needs to respond directly to the matters set forth in the tuneful object of its inspiration. Usually this is best accomplished by a singer of the opposite gender. They should also be released as soon as possible after the one they are answering.

For just the first half of the 1960s, I chose some first-rate examples of answer songs, each inspired by an all-time Top 40 classic:

1960: "Tell Laura I Love Her" (Ray Peterson) / "Tell Tommy I Miss Him" (Marilyn Michaels)
1960: "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" (Hank Locklin) / "(I Can't Help You) I'm Falling, Too" (Skeeter Davis)
1960: "Save the Last Dance for Me" (Drifters) / "I'll Save the Last Dance for You" (Damita Jo)
1960: "Are You Lonesome To-night?" (Elvis Presley) / "Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight (Dodie Stevens)
1960: "Chain Gang" (Sam Cooke) / "The Sound of My Man (On the Chain Gang)" (Theola Kilgore)
1960: "He'll Have to Go" (Jim Reeves) / "He'll Have to Stay" (Jeanne Black)
1960: "There's Something on Your Mind" (Bobby Marchan) / "There's Nothing on My Mind" (Teen Queens)
1960: "Shop Around" (Miracles) / "Don't Let Him Shop Around" (Debbie Dean)
1961: "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (Shirelles) / "Yes I Will Love You Tomorrow" (Jon E. Holiday); "Not Just Tomorrow, But Always" (Bertell Dache)
1961: "Daddy's Home" (Shep and the Limelites) / "Sorry, Daddy" (Sweethearts)
1961: "Mother-in-Law" (Ernie K. Doe) / "Son-in-Law" (Blossoms)
1961: "Tower of Strength" (Gene McDaniels) / "You Don't Have to Be a Tower of Strength" (Gloria Lynne)
1961: "Wooden Heart" (Joe Dowell) / "Your Heart's Not Made of Wood" (Terri Dean)
1961: "Take Good Care of My Baby" (Bobby Vee) / "You Should Know I'm Still Your Baby" (Sammi Lynn)
1961: "Hit the Road Jack" (Ray Charles) / "Well, I Told You" [to hit the road Jack] (Chantels)
1961: "Runaround Sue" (Dion) / "I'm No Run Around" (Ginger Davis and the Snaps); "Stay-at-Home Sue" (Linda Laurie)
1961: "Stand By Me" (Ben E. King) / "I'll Be There" (Damita Jo)
1961: "I Like It Like That" (Chris Kenner) / "I Don't Like It Like That" (Bobbettes)
1961: "Jimmy's Girl" (Johnny Tillotson) / "I'm No Longer Jimmy's Girl" (Betty Jayne and the Teenettes)
1961: "Tossin' and Turnin'" (Bobby Lewis) / "Walkin' and Talkin'" (Venus)
1961: "Walk on By" (Leroy Van Dyke) / "I'll Just Walk on By" (Margie Singleton)
1961: "Hello Walls" (Faron Young) / "Hello Fool" (Ralph Emery)
1961: "Big Bad John" (Jimmy Dean) / "Small Sad Sam" (Phil McLean)
1962: "Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello" (Elvis Presley) / "Just Tell Him Jane Said Hello" (Gerri Granger)
1962: "Roses Are Red (My Love)" (Bobby Vinton) / "Long as the Rose Is Red" (Florraine Darlin)
1962: "Bring It on Home to Me" (Sam Cooke) / "I'll Bring It on Home to You" (Carla Thomas)
1962: "Sherry" (4 Seasons) / "Jerry (I'm Your Sherry)" (Tracey Dey)
1962 "500 Miles" (Peter, Paul & Mary) / "He's Comin' Home" (Mary Taylor)
1962: "Duke of Earl" (Gene Chandler) / "Duchess of Earl" (Pearlettes)
1962: "Wolverton Mountain" (Claude King) / "I'm the Girl from Wolverton Mountain" (Jo Ann Campbell)
1962: "My Wife Can't Cook" (Lonnie Russ) / "So What if I Can't Cook" (Little Alice)
1962: "You Beat Me to the Punch" (Mary Wells) / "You Threw a Lucky Punch" (Gene Chandler)
1963: "Easier Said Than Done" (Essex) / "I'll Believe It When I See It" (Sierras)
1963: "Sugar Shack" (Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs) / "Sugar Shack Queen" (Georgia Lynn)
1965: "King of the Road" (Roger Miller) / "Queen of the House" (Jody Miller)
1965: "This Diamond Ring" (Gary Lewis and the Playboys) / "Gary, Please Don't Sell My Diamond Ring" (Wendy Hill)
1965: "Eve of Destruction" (Barry McGuire) / "Dawn of Correction" (Spokesmen)
1965: "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (James Brown) / "Mama's Got a Bag of Her Own" (Anna King)
1965: "Count Me In" (Gary Lewis and the Playboys) / "I'll Count You In" (Little Jonna Jaye)

IZ ZAT SO? The highest ranking answer song is "He'll Have to Stay," by Jeanne Black, which peaked at No. 4 nationally. "He'll Have to Go" did slightly better, reaching No. 2.

Five others did make the Top 40: Jody Miller's "Queen of the House"; "I'll Be There" and "I'll Save the Last Dance for You," both by Damita Jo; "Dawn of Correction," by the Spokesmen; and Jo Ann Campbell's "I'm the Girl from Wolverton Mountain."

The Spokesmen; Jon E. Holiday; Gene Chandler; and Bertell Dache are the only males on our answer song list.

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