Not A Bright Future

The passing of a year can be marked by the four seasons going by, winter, spring, summer and fall or autumn, but in the 1960s, the Four Seasons were one of the very biggest rock & roll groups around.  Their most distinguishing trademark, came from the high falsetto vocals of their lead singer, Frankie Valli.  They sang doo wop romantic tunes with group harmonies that became a little too clean-cut, once the Beatles invaded.  No other white American group of the time besides the Beach Boys could match their intricate harmonies.  They were four distinctly different voices, unlike The Beach Boys, who had that brotherly sound, or the Everly Brothers, who were hard to tell apart.  They were immensely successful, making the Top Ten thirteen times between 1962 and 1967 with hits like ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Dawn’, ‘Rag Doll’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ ‘Oh, What a Night’, ‘My Eyes Adored You’, ‘Bye Bye Baby (Baby, Goodbye)’ and ‘Let’s Hang On’.

Francesco Castelluccio was born on May 3, 1934, in Newark NJ, and grew up in a public housing complex.  His manager thought that Castelluccio was too long of a name and that no one would understand it, and while living in Newark, Frankie met a hillbilly singer named ‘Texas’ Jean Valli and Castelluccio, so he borrowed her last name and he changed his name to Frankie Valli.  Frankie was the son of a barber, who at the age of seven decided to be a singer.  In the 1940s, he attended Central High School in Newark and then he enrolled in the American College of Cosmetology to become a hairdresser. Frankie and his good friend Nicky DeVito both had a license to cut hair.  Valli grew up singing on street corners in Stephen Crane Village and in the early 50’s, Valli began singing with the Variety Trio, a vocal group made up of Hank Majewski, and brothers Nick and Tommy Devito, but late 1952, the Variety Trio disbanded.  In 1953, Frankie Valli released his first song ‘My Mother’s Eyes’ which was released under  the name Frankie Valley, but he eventually changed it to the same spelling that Texas Jean Valli was using.

The following year, he and guitarist Tommy DeVito became a team forming The Variatones (with Hank Majewski, rhythm guitar, Frank Cattone, accordion, and Billy Thompson, drums), which between 1954 and 1956 performed and recorded under a variety of names before settling on the name The Four Lovers.  The Four Lovers had a minor hit with ‘You’re the Apple of My Eye’ by Otis Blackwell and they also cut an album called Joyride and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.  The Lovers caught a break when a friend named Joe Pesci (yes, the Oscar-winning actor) introduced the Lovers to Bob Gaudio, a piano-playing, song-writing prodigy and former member of the Royal Teens.  He had co-written the monster hit ‘Short Shorts’, but then his Teens had returned to obscurity.  The Lovers started working with Bob Crewe, a brilliant lyricist and producer who had written ‘Silhouettes’ for the Rays signed the Four Lovers to a three-year artist contract.  The Lovers flunked an audition at a cocktail lounge located in a bowling alley named the Four Seasons they decided this would make a good name for their ensemble.  In 1962, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons came to fame when they had their first hit, the chart-topping ‘Sherry’. Bob Gaudio wrote the song ‘Jackie’ as a tribute to the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, but Bob Crewe changed it to ‘Sherry’.  The unknown Seasons sang ‘Sherry’ on American Bandstand, and they suddenly became the hottest band in the land, and after nine years as a recording artist, Frankie Valli became an overnight sensation with a No. 1 record. The sound of ‘Sherry” was unlike anything else on the airwaves.

‘Dawn (Go Away)’ entered the Top 40 on February 8, 1964 and climbed to #3 the week of February 22, behind two Beatles songs ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘She Loves You’.  It stayed at #3 for three weeks until March 14, when it was bumped to #4 by ‘Please Please Me’.  By March 28, it was at #5 as ‘Twist and Shout’ entered the Top 5.  On April 4, ‘Dawn’ was out of the Top 10 and The Beatles held all five top positions.  In February 1964, 60% of the singles sold in the US were by the Beatles, but the second-biggest seller was The Four Seasons.  The fateful year of 1964 brought the British invasion, but that didn’t stall the Four Seasons.  With the Gaudio-Crewe engine firing on all cylinders, the group released one smash after another including, ‘Ronnie’, ‘Rag Doll’, ‘Save It For Me’ and ‘Big Man in Town’.

‘Dawn (Go Away)’ was written by Bob Gaudio and Sandy Linzer.  Besides co-writing ‘Dawn (Go Away)’, Sandy Linzer also wrote ‘Let’s Hang On’, ‘Working My Way Back to You’, and ‘Opus 17’ (also known as ‘Don’t You Worry ‘bout Me’) for the Four Seasons.  Bob Gaudio was a performing member of The Four Seasons, the original keyboardist and tenor vocalist, and on most occasions he was also their main composer, and sometimes their lyricist, but he achieved his greatest successes by collaborating with other lyricists.  Charlie Calello is an American, singer, composer, conductor, arranger, and record producer born in Newark, New Jersey who started his career with the Four Lovers and has since worked for superstars such as Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell and the Four Seasons.  ‘Dawn (Go Away)’was originally written with a totally different feel as a slow folk ballad, but arranger Charles Calello sped it up and at Valli’s suggestion and added a galloping rhythm guitar borrowed from Kai Winding’s version of ‘More’.

Two days before ‘Dawn’ was recorded, Frankie Valli and Charlie Calello were in a car when the song ‘More’ came on the radio and Frankie said, “that’s the kind of feel we need on our next session.”  ‘Dawn’ was recorded with 5 other songs on the same date.  Calello usually worked on the arrangements with Gaudio just before the sessions, but when it came to ‘Dawn’, it just did not feel right and he knew he had to come up with something to meet the challenge.  After Calello came up with the resolution of how to change ‘Dawn”, Frankie and Gaudio were both blown away.  Calello had developed the basic figure that was the glue to the song and the bell sound that became part of the Seasons’ sound for the next few years.  Charlie Calello changed all the chords, and wrote the whole tone scale rise at the end of the bridge.

Bob Gaudio said that the song ‘Dawn’ was not written about a specific girl. ‘Dawn’ contains happy music with dark, deplorable lyrics that seem to be contradictory at times.   Dawn is told to stay with him, because he’ll be good to her.  If she can hang on, then he will hang on to her.  She should think about what a big man he’ll be and about the places she’ll see.  However, Dawn is then told to think about her future being with a poor boy.  The singer tries to persuade Dawn that she will be better off with someone who can support her in the style to which she is accustomed and someone that her family would approve of.  I think he is trying to conceal his true motives, by choosing to dissemble his real intentions of actually wanting Dawn to be with him.  By telling Dawn to go away or to give him up, because he is too poor for her is a futile attempt, as this will probably not work on Dawn, because the more he protests the more Dawn will want to be with him.

The Four Seasons got a lot of help from some of the top New York session musicians who played on their songs.  ‘Dawn’ was part of the first session for Ralph Casale, a guitarist from Newark, New Jersey who became part of this elite group of studio pros.  Drummer Buddy Saltzman accented the recording with bombastic around the kit fills and ghost notes, while never using a cymbal once.  Saltzman begins with a short drum intro, featuring a louder perhaps even more frantic drum backing.

Frankie Valli along with The 4 Lovers and The 4 Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990. The Four Seasons songs appear in a bunch of movies.  Frankie Valli appeared many times as Rusty Millio on the HBO series The Sopranos.

The Deer Hunter

Dirty Dancing

Conspiracy Theory

The Wanderers

Pretty as a midsummer’s morn’

They call her Dawn.
Dawn,
Go away I’m no good for you.
Oh Dawn,
Stay with him, he’ll be good to you.
Hang on,
Hang on to you.
Think,
What a big man he’ll be.
Think,
Of the places you’ll see.
Now think what the future would be with a poor boy like me.
Dawn go away,
Please go away.
Although I know,
I want you to stay.
Dawn go away,
Please go away.
Baby, don’t cry.
It’s better this way.
Ahh, ahh, ah.
Ohh-ohh-oh.

Dawn,
Go away back where you belong.
Girl we can’t,
Change the places where we were born.
Before you say,
That you want me.
I want you to think,
What your family would say.
Think,
What your throwing away.
Now think what the future would be with a poor boy like me.
Meee-ee.

Dawn,
Go away I’m no good for you.
Dawn,
Go away I’m no good for you.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Team, for Daily Inkling Prompt – Ensemble, for FOWC with Fandango – Challenge, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Dissemble, for Ragtag Community – Week, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Resolution and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Deplorable.

11 thoughts on “Not A Bright Future

  1. I used to love Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I saw them in concert when I was a freshman in college when the performed at my then m-girlfriend’s high school. Did you ever see the Broadway show “Jersey Boys”? Great post, Jim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. … performed at your girlfriend’s highschool, Fandango? What a deal.

      This is a fun post, Jim. The timeframe is
      something I wasn’t fully aware of,
      like a lot of the other details.

      Liked by 2 people

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