Day 150: “Lonesome Tears in My Eyes”

When was it recorded?   Jul. 10, 1963

When was it first released, and on which album?   Nov. 30, 1994 on “Live at the BBC”

Who wrote it?   Paul Burlison, Dorsey Burnette, Johnny Burnette, and Henry Jerome

Have I heard this song before?   No

What my research dug up:

Well today was wild. I sat down for like 15 minutes at 6:00 and saw everyone on Tumblr talking about how today was the day Paul met John in 1957. Then ABC News had a story about “A Hard Day’s Night” opening 50 years ago followed by a story about Paul resuming his tour in Rochester, NY. I learned more 15 minutes than I did all day.

Here’s what I learned about the songwriters (all four of them).

Paul Burlison (1929-2003) = American rockabilly guitarist

  • Worked at Crown Electric with Elvis Presley after being honorably discharged from the US military following WWII (since he enlisted at age 17)
  • Worked as a session musician at Sun Records in the ‘50s
  • Released his only solo album in 1997 and “remained active in the music scene until his death in 2003” (Wikipedia)
  • Has since been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame

Dorsey Burnette (1932 –1979) = American rockabilly singer

  • Johnny Burnette’s older brother
  • Worked a number of odd jobs after graduating high school before reuniting with old boxing buddy Burlison at Crown Electric
  • Moved to California and recorded a number of solo demos, releasing two singles (1956’s “Let’s Fall in Love” and 1957’s “Jungle Magic”)
  • Reunited with Johnny in Los Angeles to write songs for Ricky Nelson and record new singles as the Burnette Brothers
  • Finally had a hit in 1959 with “Tall Oak Tree,” which peaked at #23 on the Hot 100 charts
  • Had 15 Top Country hits in the 1970s but none made the Top 20 charts
  • Played a 30 minute show at a benefit for the Arthritis Foundation the day before he died

John “Johnny” Burnette (1934 –1964) = American rockabilly musician

  • Dorsey Burnette’s younger brother
  • Worked as a deck hand on a Mississippi River barge with Johnny so they could write songs during their breaks
  • Released three singles in late 1958 as a solo artist which were not successful
  • Reunited with Johnny in Los Angeles to write songs for Ricky Nelson and record new singles as the Burnette Brothers
  • Released the solo single “Dreamin’” on May 4, 1960, which reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on the UK charts
  • Released “Liberty” five months later, which reached #8 on the Billboard charts and #3 in the UK, earning him a Gold record; more minor hits followed
  • Died in Aug. 1964 when another boat collided with his unlit fishing boat; Johnny was thrown in the water and drowned

Henry Jerome (nee Pasnik) (1917-2011) = American big band leader, trumpeter, arranger, composer, and record company executive

  • Led ‘big bands’ during the Big Band Era (duh) through the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s
  • Became A&R director of Decca Records in 1959
  • Became A&R director of Coral Records in the late 1960s
  • Became A&R director of United Artists Records in 1968
  • Used the pseudonyms Van Grayson and Al Mortimer “as a way of getting a royalty cut for musicians that he put on salary” (Wikipedia)


Burlison and the Burnette brothers formed a rockabilly band called simply The Rock and Roll Trio after Burlison returned from the army in the early ‘50s. (The band also released singles as Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio and the Johnny Burnette Trio.) Burlison played lead guitar, Johnny sang and played acoustic guitar, and Dorsey played bass. The trio got a contracted with Coral Records in 1956 – with Jerome serving as their manager — and toured with Carl Perkins that summer. Quoth Wikipedia, “The band released several singles, but failed to attain chart success” and disbanded in 1957.

Naturally the Rock and Roll Trio released the first version of “Lonesome Tears in My Eyes” in March 1957.

The Beatles covered “Lonesome Tears in My Eyes” for “Pop Go the Beatles” on Jul. 10, 1963. The program aired Jul. 23. As noted, this version was released on 1994’s compilation “Live at the BBC.”

I failed to mention it on Day 22, but Beatles 1969 original “The Ballad of John & Yoko” apparently owes at debt to “Lonesome Tears in My Eyes.” Quoth the Beatles Bible, “The song’s bass line and closing guitar riff bear a notable similarity to those of ‘Lonesome Tears In My Eyes.’” Let’s take a second look (yaaaaay).

Mmmmm, I kind of hear it, but the comparison is eely.  I see it pretty clearly but when I concentrate on catching it, it evades my grasp.  “Lonesome Tears” is a great song, though.  I liked this one a lot (though I prefer the original to the cover — sorry, lads).




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s