One of the most blatant and memorable songs in the "no-good man" milieu, "You're No Good" was written by a guy: Clint Ballard, Jr., who also wrote songs for Connie Francis and The Hollies. The song is about a woman who comes to the conclusion that the guy she split from was trouble from the start.
This song had been around for a while before Linda Ronstadt took it to the top of the chart. It was originally recorded by Dee Dee Warwick in 1963. Her version was produced by the famous team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, but it stalled at #117. Betty Everett had more success with her version, which went to #51 in 1964. First released on her 1963 album of the same name, Everett recorded the song at Chess Records in Chicago, with Maurice White on drums (White, who later formed Earth, Wind & Fire, was a staff drummer at Chess early in his career). Everett was a former gospel singer who, like Ronstadt, had a very powerful voice. Her next single, "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)," became her biggest hit.
The song made one more chart appearance in 1964 when the British male band Swinging Blue Jeans switched the gender and took the song to #97 in the US and #3 in the UK, where it became the best-known rendition of the song.
A decade later, Ronstadt started performing the song and recorded it with her producer Peter Asher. Released as a single from her fifth album, the song was a huge breakthrough for Ronstadt, whose chart success to this point was sporadic (her biggest hit to then: "Long, Long Time" at #25). She became one of the biggest stars of the '70s, known for her musical versatility and impressive vocal range. Most of her hits were cover songs, including the follow-up, "When Will I Be Loved," originally recorded by the Everly Brothers.
This song makes it quite clear that the lowdown guy is no good, but in the second verse, Ronstadt turns it around, as she's done some bad things herself and deserves some comeuppance:
I broke a heart that's gentle and true Well I broke a heart over someone like you I'll beg his forgiveness on bended knee I wouldn't blame him if he said to me You're no good
By the third verse, she's back to bashing the guy:
I'm telling you now baby and I'm going my way Forget about you baby 'cause I'm leaving to stay
Heart Like A Wheel was the first album Peter Asher produced for Ronstadt, and the results were spectacular. With his duo Peter & Gordon, Asher had a #1 hit in 1964 with "A World Without Love," and later became head of A&R at The Beatles' Apple Records, where he began a longstanding relationship with James Taylor.
In a Songfacts interview with Asher, he explained that getting the most out of Ronstadt meant listening to her and honoring her ideas. "I may have listened to her with a bit more attentiveness than others had in the past," he said. "There was, particularly back in that era, an element of, 'Don't you worry your pretty little head about that, I know what's best.' Linda knew a lot and was not given credit for it."
Van Halen recorded this for their second album. It was one of many successful cover songs by the group; Others include Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman," The Kinks' "You Really Got Me," and Martha & the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street." This is the only cover on the album. Between 1978-1983, Van Halen released an album a year. Since they toured constantly, including cover songs on the albums helped ease the songwriting burden.
Melinda from AustraliaAny girl or guy who’s gone out with someone, they thought was good. And discovered to their shock that he/she was just ‘no good’. Can relate to this song. It’s so meaningful. And I love the lyric ‘and it’s left a scar’. Well we all know ‘scars’ are the learning. And how you grow from these experiences. With people who are dishonest, liars, lazy and or not loyal. We’ve all been there. And this song nails how you feel when you’re ‘done’ and ready to walk away from lovers, wives/husbands who have totally disappointed you. And just write them off as a life experience. A bad experience. Linda Ronstadt was born to belt out this beautiful song. So glad she picked it.
Donna from Ft. Lauderdale, FlAs teenagers back in the '70s, we were simply in awe of her. Linda's pretty face, the long hair, that VOICE! The boys all had crushes, the girls were jealous. And now she's been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. So sad. I know. My mother suffered from PD. Hope they can find a cure soon!
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 26th 1964, "You're No Good" by the Swinging Blue Jeans entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #100; the following week it was at #97 and then it fell off the chart... It was one of seventeen records that entered the Top 100 on July 26th; and this being 1964 two of the records were by the Beatles ("If I Fell" at #92 and "I'm Happy just To Dance With You" at #95).
Matt from Chicago, IlEmmylou did not sing backup on this song. She sang backup on "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You" from the same album. Backup on "You're No Good" was done by Clydie King and Shirley Matthews.
Dan from Keller, Txwho's the girl in yellow n the midnight special video? Linda Lewis?
Richard from Manchester, United KingdomNo discussion of the song is surely complete without mention of the cover by British Merseybeat act The Swinging Blue Jeans, who had a number 3 hit in the UK charts with the song in 1964 (one of their three hits that year). Theirs remains the best known version of the song in the UK. According to Wikipedia, it only made no 97 in the US charts. In that respect they were probably a bit unlucky, as it was not till early to mid 1965 that the so-called "British invasion" of the US charts really gathered pace, and by that time the Blue Jeans' brief spell in the limelight was over.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyLinda has charted twenty times with cover songs, this one being her biggest success. Her very first cover song was "She's A Very Lovely Woman", originally done by Merry-Go-Round in 1967. She has covered & charted with three Buddy Holly songs; "That'll Be The Day", "It's So Easy", & "It Doesn't Matter Anymore"!!!
Pat from St. Paul, MnLinda must have liked Betty Everett songs. Although she did not record it, Linda performed "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)" on Saturday Night Live in 1979 with Phoebe Snow.
Muzza from Auckland, New ZealandThis one of Linda Ronstadts best hits...I have just played it on my New zealand wide Radio Show on SolidGold FM...also we stream on www.solidgoldfm.co.nz Andrew Gold who played guitar on this had a huge hit with the Theme for the Golden Girls.."Thank You For Being a Friend"
Dave from Scottsdale, AzGuitars on this song were played by Eddie Black and Andrew Gold. Gold played the solo in the bridge. He also played electric piano, drums and percussion on this song. Background vocals were by Clydie King and Shirley Mathews. Maurice White and Emmy Lou Harris do not appear on this song but she did sing background "I Can't Help It.." from the album Heart Like A Wheel which this appeared on. Clint Ballard also wrote "The Game of Love" by Wayne Fontana. Clydie King has sung background for the Stones, Steely Dan, Joe Cocker, and Bob Dylan.
Cindy from Tempe, AzSorry, Francis from New Orleans MD, but you're wrong. I'm sitting here listening to the Linda Rondstadt song and reading along with the lyrics offered by this site. Word for word, they're the exact same. Please listen to Linda's recording while reading the words and you'll understand.
Meredith from Wauwatosa, WiGreat song from one of the best female singers of the 70s!!!!!!!
Craig Mc from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, AustraliaI know this sounds crazy, but I'm a a 39 year old aussie and thanks to the internet, I have only just kind of 'discovered' Linda's music. I was only a bub when she was on the charts in the 60's and 70's but I recognize her music, it's familiar from the past...I've heard it.. My favourite Linda Ronstandt song is "You're no good". This song was also played in an episode of "Miami Vice" in the mid 1980's after a car chase and shoot out scene and was quite appropriate for the central theme. A drug dealing vice king been busted by the cops! There was a CD promotion on Aussie TV recently that showed Linda from the mid 70's singing "You're no good" I'm in love!! Those eyes!! Started googling straight away and found her, what a an absolute total georgeous woman! Yummy! Yummy! Now all her song's are contageous!
Alan from Grande Prairie, Alberta, CanadaI believe Clint Ballard Jr. wrote songs for the Hollies.
Courtney from Rochester Hills, MiI like this song. It was played in the movie "House" on the ending credits
Ryan from Lakewood, OhI believe Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire played the drums...
Xray from Laguna, Caby the by, i first heard this song by "the swinging blue jeans," liverpool contrmpoaries of los beatles.....
Xray from Laguna, Caactually andrew played all the GUITARS......
soungs likie the beatles doesn't it?? that WAS the point!
Francis from New Orleans, MdSorry fellas, but those are NOT the lyrics to the Linda Ronstadt version. You're showing the Van Halen version, who actually took some liberties, changing the wlyrics considerably. I'm not sure that Clint Ballard would want credit for David Lee Roth's changes. Anyway, if you listen to Linda's version, the 2nd verse is completely different. There are more differences too but that's enough on that.
Charles from Charlotte, NcAndrew Gold played keyboards on this. He had a solo hit record in 1977 "Lonely Boy".