Say You Will

‘Lonely Teardrops’ was written by Berry Gordy Jr., Gwen Gordy (Berry’s sister) and Roquel “Billy” Davis who was Jackie Wilson’s cousin and he went by the pen name of Tyran Carlo.  The song was first recorded and released as a single in 1958 by R&B singer Jackie Wilson.  The record became a national Top 10 Pop smash (# 7), a # 1 hit on the R&B charts, and is ranked #315 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  It is ranked as the 57th biggest U.S. hit of 1959.  ‘Lonely Teardrops’ is also listed on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of “The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”.  It became a 1999 Grammy Hall of Fame Inductee.

Jackie Wilson got his first big break in 1953, when Billy Ward hired him as the lead singer for The Dominoes, replacing Clyde McPhatter who had left that group for The Drifters.  McPhatter coached Jackie and strongly influenced both his singing style and his presence onstage.  The Dominoes had a few minor hits with Wilson, but Jackie left in 1957 for a solo career.  ‘Lonely Teardrops’ was a #1 R&B hit and it was Wilson’s first song to reach the Top 10 on the US pop charts.  It went on to become one of his signature songs.  Wilson had more than 50 hit singles in many genres, including R&B, rock and roll, pop, and soul.  Wilson combined a beautiful, clear voice with his own style of athletic dance moves and he always gave an incredible performance, which made him known as “Mr. Excitement”.

Gordy developed his interest in music after he returned from the Korean War and he started writing songs and opened up the 3-D Record Mart with money he got from his dad.  This record store sold jazz albums to a largely African-American customer base and they also had 3-D glasses.  The store was unsuccessful, and eventually Gordy made a connection with Al Green, and through him he met singer Jackie Wilson.  Gordy reinvested the profits from his songwriting success and in 1957, he discovered the Miracles who were originally known as the Matadors.  Gordy began building a portfolio of successful artists and in 1959, with the encouragement of Miracles leader Smokey Robinson, Gordy borrowed $800 from his family to create an R&B record company.  Originally, Gordy wanted to name the new label Tammy Records, after the song recorded by Debbie Reynolds.  However, that name was taken, and he chose the name Tamla Records.  In order to avoid accusations of payola should DJs play too many records from the original Tamla label, Gordy formed Motown Records as a second label in 1960.  The two labels featured the same writers, producers and artists and they eventually merged into Motown Record Corporation.

In September 1975, while performing at the Latin Casino in New Jersey, Wilson collapsed from a heart attack and a stroke right in the middle of this song. He never recovered and remained in a coma for eight more years; he was hospitalized until his death on January 21, 1984 (age 49). In tragic irony, the last words he sung before collapsing were “My heart is crying.” The audience at first thought that his fall was part of the act and they started applauding and cheering. It became evident that something was wrong when about half a minute later, he hadn’t moved. The excitement instantly turned into confusion and shock as attempts to revive Jackie on the stage were to no avail.

The lyrics of ‘Lonely Teardrops’ describes a man who is in torment because his woman has left him.  His heart is burning and he spends most evenings crying over his loss.  He would love to get another chance for romance with his woman and he begs her to come back home to him.  Every day that she has been gone, his pillow is filled with teardrops.

My heart is crying, crying
Lonely teardrops
My pillow’s never dry of lonely teardrops
Come home, come home
Just say you will, say you will
(Say you will) say you will (say you will)
Hey, hey (say you will)
My heart is crying, crying

Lonely teardrops
My pillow’s never dry of lonely teardrops
Come home, come home
Just say you will, say you will
(Say you will) say you will, (say you will)
Hey, hey (say you will)

Just give me another chance for our romance
Come on and tell me that one day you’ll return
‘Cause, every day that you’ve been gone away
You know my heart does nothing but burn, crying

Lonely teardrops
My pillow’s never dry of lonely teardrops
Come home, come home
Just say you will, say you will
(Say you will) say you will, (say you will)
Hey, hey (say you will)
Say it right now, baby
(Say you will) come on, come on
(Say you will) say that you
Say it right now, baby
(Say you will) come on, come on
(Say you will) hey come on

Written for Thursday Inspiration #121 Before the Next Teardrop Falls

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