This song about a man who gives in to temptation was one of Pitney's biggest hits; it was written by the team of composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David. In his biography of Bacharach, Maestro!, Michael Brocken says it was "originally intended as a hit in the 'cowboy' vein as per 'Liberty Valance,' but without a movie plot Hal David was required to come up with his own 'film noir.'" It is, he says, "a piece of American Gothic par excellence."
Released on United Artists, this song entered the Billboard Top 100 at #99 week ending October 19, 1963 and peaked at #17 on December 7.
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
This song has been included on at least 80 albums as of 2011, over 48 of which are Gene Pitney's version. It has also been covered by Dusty Springfield, Ian and Sylvia, and Chet Baker, among others.
Singer Gene Pitney was known for his songwriting talents as well as his singing, having penned the hit songs "He's a Rebel" for the Crystals and "Hello Mary Lou" for Ricky Nelson. In fact, his first hit as a singer was a self-penned tune called "(I Wanna) Love My Life Away." He not only wrote the song, but he produced it and played all the instruments on it, as well. It reached 39 on the U.S. Hot 100 in 1961.
Pitney's collaboration with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David began in 1962 with "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance," which was a song written for the John Wayne vehicle of the same name, but was inexplicably never used in the movie. Their collaboration continued on through a handful of songs, including "Only Love Can Break A Heart," "The Fool Killer" and "If I Never Get To Love You."
In a 1997 DISCoveries interview, Hal David recalled how the song came together: "I wrote that to a melody that Burt wrote and that's what the melody said to me. Music speaks to a lyric writer, or at least it should speak to a lyric writer. And that's what the music said to me. And why it did, I don't know. I don't think I had ever been to Tulsa. I've always kind of liked what I call 'narrative songs' – story songs. And when I hear music, very often I hear a story. The fact that it was Tulsa, as opposed to Dallas, is not terribly meaningful, but the sound of 'Tulsa' rang in my ear."
This was used in three Season 1 episodes of the Stephen King-inspired Hulu series Castle Rock: "Severance," "The Box," and "Filter."
Babbling Babette from Tulsa OkGrowing up in the Sixties, I was a big Gene Pitney fan. Loved all his work & this hit in particular. I even recall the first time I heard it in fall of '63. I was in a school bus hauling the marching band of my high school to a football game in the Tulsa, OK. suburbs. We were going to the Skiatook High School stadium. Then this song came on from a Tulsa AM rock station. Me & my friends loved the arrangement & production. It almost sounded like a Phil Spector production, but I don't think it was. The message in the song was so bizarre for a love song. Betrayal? Infidelity? Ooooo! And that jukebox. In Oklahoma at the time, I recall it was a Top Ten hit on my fav AM rock station, but I see that here it shows Billboard had it peak at #17. I think it was worthy of Top 3 back when I was a kid in '63 and I still do now. But I'm now babbling.....
Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaI think Burt was influenced heavily by Leonard Bernstein's 2 notes on Somewhere from West Side Story, or perhaps, more likely, it was Leiber and Stoller's production of Jay and the Americans Come an Little Bit Closer arrangement... whatever the inspiration was, I love his twist on that riff, dragging it out and making it so dramatic in the opening, and then using it as an ostinato thruout the song!...brilliant. The riff was used again a year later on Billy Joe Royal's "Down in the Boondocks"
Bob from Southfield, MiI love this song (and anything else by Gene Pitney) but whenever I hear it, I think "this guy just cheated on his girlfriend, is leaving her to run away with this new love, and he is playing the victim? What's up with that?