Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

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Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by Daryl »

Hello,

In 1999 BMG/RCA released "The Home Recordings." One of the selections on that album was titled "Mary Lou Brown" and was credited to Red West as the sole songwriter. Even the website for Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) has a title registered to Red West with a title "Mary Lou Brown."

http://repertoire.bmi.com/writer.asp?fromrow=51&torow=75&keyname=WEST%20RED&querytype=WriterID&keyid=365994&page=3&blnWriter=True&blnPublisher=True&blnArtist=True&affiliation=BMI&cae=32769769

But then I came across the 1961 Felsted 45 single "Mary Lou Brown" / "Archie's Melody" by the By-Liners. Here's a picture of the "Mary Lou Brown" side:

http://davidneale.eu/elvis/labels/lady-madonna---never-been/mary-lou-brown.html

Notice that the songwriting credits are attributed not to Red West but rather to Gerald Nelson and Charles Hodge. It's also worth noting that the Felsted 45 dates from 1961, according to the Felsted discography link below:

http://www.globaldogproductions.info/f/felsted.html

So then, this brings up the question, who is the correct songwriter or songwriters. It would seem that according to the Felsted 45, the song was registered to BMI at the time of the By-Liners release. So a simple search of the BMI website brought me to this:

http://repertoire.bmi.com/title.asp?blnWriter=True&blnPublisher=True&blnArtist=True&keyID=963418&ShowNbr=0&ShowSeqNbr=0&querytype=WorkID

To me, it would seem, that Red took credit for writing this song and that is who Ernst / BMG gave the songwriting credit to, unbeknownst to the existence of the 1961 Felsted 45 single. So basically, I'm inclined to believe that the Nelson - Hodge credit found on the Felsted 45 single is correct and any credit to Red West is only because he was more prone to writing songs for Elvis.

But the thing that really comes into play as far as the home recording of "Mary Lou Brown," is that a while back I emailed Ernst about the home recordings and he mentioned to me that he felt that they very well could have been done after the May, 1966 "How Great Thou Art" sessions, for a number of reasons, one of which was that among the tapes found at Graceland was copies of the songs from the "Easy Come, Easy Go" soundtrack. That last fact alone is very interesting, in that Gerald Nelson, one of the co-writers on the Felsted 45 of "Mary Lou Brown," also wrote or co-wrote several songs from the "Easy Come, Easy Go" soundtrack including "Sing You Children," "The Love Machine" and "Yoga Is As Yoga Does." I don't think it's entirely a coincidence that Elvis records 3 of Gerald Nelson's songs in September, 1966 and Elvis also makes a home-recording of what is believed to be a Nelson - Hodge composition. Could this possibly place the date Elvis tried out "Mary Lou Brown" closer to around the September, 1966 "Easy Come, Easy Go" sessions. Could Nelson have submitted those 3 songs Elvis did record for the soundtrack along with "Mary Lou Brown," a song Nelson had co-written several years earlier with Charles Hodge. Too many coincidences.

BTW, I did some more research and the B-side "Archie's Melody" did in fact charted in January, 1962.
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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by drjohncarpenter »

There's a lot of conjecture in your post, but it's certainly undeniable that the November 1961 single issued from the By Liners was the same song Elvis, Red and Charlie demoed at 10550 Rocca Place in 1966, and got an official release thirty-three years later.



TheHomeRecordings1999.jpg





Elvis Presley "Mary Lou Brown" The Home Recordings (RCA|BMG 07863 67676, March 1999)
1966 home demo taped by Red West, vocals by Elvis, Red and Charlie.




611120_Felsted 8631_By Liners.jpg
By Liners "Mary Lou Brown" (Felsted 8631, November 20, 1961)
Single did not chart, and the B-side, "Archie's Melody," was the favored tune in label ads, and at radio.




Billboard Mar 03 1962 p17.JPG
Billboard - March 3, 1962



In fact, "Archie's Melody" made Billboard's "Bubbling Under The Hot 100" #117 for one week, on February 10, 1962.


Here are both sides of the 1962 single:













There is a real possibility Red West worked on "Mary Lou Brown," but gave up his credit, for one reason or another, to Gerald Nelson and/or Charlie Hodge. We do not know how songwriting was determined on the 1999 RCA release, so assumptions are kind of a waste, but it should be noted that on the back cover of the CD it clearly reads "Special thanks to Red West & Charlie Hodge," which indicates these men had some input on the project.

Another intriguing thing, which may be a clue to solving this mystery, is the fact that Nelson issued a disc in 2006 of his Elvis demos, mostly submissions for Hollywood soundtracks, which is seven years after The Home Recordings was released, yet "Mary Lou Brown" was not on it. This might indicate he didn't believe it really was his song in the first place.

See:
Meet Gerald Nelson, Mysterious Elvis Songwriter
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=52973




A search of the BMI site for "Mary Lou Brown" shows both the Nelson-Hodge credit and a stand-alone West credit, which implies something was possibly worked out. West's work order was assigned well after the other one.


MARY LOU BROWN
BMI Work # 963418

SONGWRITER/COMPOSER - CURRENT AFFILIATION - CAE/IPI #

HODGE CHARLES F - BMI - 14208330
NELSON GERALD - ASCAP - 63656662

MARY LOU BROWN
BMI Work # 4710958

SONGWRITER/COMPOSER - CURRENT AFFILIATION - CAE/IPI #

WEST BOBBY G - BMI - 32765389


http://repertoire.bmi.com/



Of course, the saddest part of all is knowing that "Mary Lou Brown" is not much of a song, no matter who composed it.

The By Liners would push out another "Mitch Miller"-styled single in 1962:

"Ain't It Great To Be Crazy" b/w "Simple Little Symphony" (Felsted 8644, October 20, 1962)

It apparently did much less business. Bobby West and Gerald Nelson are listed as co-writers of "Simple Little Symphony," while the topside was by Dick Gleason and Nick Noble.
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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by Mike Windgren »

Hi there!! :D :D :D.
Daryl wrote:Hello,

In 1999 BMG/RCA released "The Home Recordings." One of the selections on that album was titled "Mary Lou Brown" and was credited to Red West as the sole songwriter. Even the website for Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) has a title registered to Red West with a title "Mary Lou Brown."

http://repertoire.bmi.com/writer.asp?fromrow=51&torow=75&keyname=WEST%20RED&querytype=WriterID&keyid=365994&page=3&blnWriter=True&blnPublisher=True&blnArtist=True&affiliation=BMI&cae=32769769

But then I came across the 1961 Felsted 45 single "Mary Lou Brown" / "Archie's Melody" by the By-Liners. Here's a picture of the "Mary Lou Brown" side:

http://davidneale.eu/elvis/labels/lady-madonna---never-been/mary-lou-brown.html

Notice that the songwriting credits are attributed not to Red West but rather to Gerald Nelson and Charles Hodge. It's also worth noting that the Felsted 45 dates from 1961, according to the Felsted discography link below:

http://www.globaldogproductions.info/f/felsted.html

So then, this brings up the question, who is the correct songwriter or songwriters. It would seem that according to the Felsted 45, the song was registered to BMI at the time of the By-Liners release. So a simple search of the BMI website brought me to this:

http://repertoire.bmi.com/title.asp?blnWriter=True&blnPublisher=True&blnArtist=True&keyID=963418&ShowNbr=0&ShowSeqNbr=0&querytype=WorkID

To me, it would seem, that Red took credit for writing this song and that is who Ernst / BMG gave the songwriting credit to, unbeknownst to the existence of the 1961 Felsted 45 single. So basically, I'm inclined to believe that the Nelson - Hodge credit found on the Felsted 45 single is correct and any credit to Red West is only because he was more prone to writing songs for Elvis.

But the thing that really comes into play as far as the home recording of "Mary Lou Brown," is that a while back I emailed Ernst about the home recordings and he mentioned to me that he felt that they very well could have been done after the May, 1966 "How Great Thou Art" sessions, for a number of reasons, one of which was that among the tapes found at Graceland was copies of the songs from the "Easy Come, Easy Go" soundtrack. That last fact alone is very interesting, in that Gerald Nelson, one of the co-writers on the Felsted 45 of "Mary Lou Brown," also wrote or co-wrote several songs from the "Easy Come, Easy Go" soundtrack including "Sing You Children," "The Love Machine" and "Yoga Is As Yoga Does." I don't think it's entirely a coincidence that Elvis records 3 of Gerald Nelson's songs in September, 1966 and Elvis also makes a home-recording of what is believed to be a Nelson - Hodge composition. Could this possibly place the date Elvis tried out "Mary Lou Brown" closer to around the September, 1966 "Easy Come, Easy Go" sessions. Could Nelson have submitted those 3 songs Elvis did record for the soundtrack along with "Mary Lou Brown," a song Nelson had co-written several years earlier with Charles Hodge. Too many coincidences.

BTW, I did some more research and the B-side "Archie's Melody" did in fact charted in January, 1962.
Daryl
Excellent detective research Daryl 8). Thank you for sharing Ernst Jorgensen's commentaries! :smt023. Bye for now :smt006.


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by Tony.. »

I've never been convinced that Elvis' voice is even on that home recording. Sounds like Charlie, Red etc. No Elvis



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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Tony.. wrote:I've never been convinced that Elvis' voice is even on that home recording. Sounds like Charlie, Red etc. No Elvis
Maybe etc is singing lead?


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by Tony.. »

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Tony.. wrote:I've never been convinced that Elvis' voice is even on that home recording. Sounds like Charlie, Red etc. No Elvis
Maybe etc is singing lead?
Well, it ain't Elvis"!! A poor 'song' too in my opinion. Only listened to that "Home Recordings" CD once or twice.



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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by Winston »

That is a interesting read, thanks for it!



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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Tony.. wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
Tony.. wrote:I've never been convinced that Elvis' voice is even on that home recording. Sounds like Charlie, Red etc. No Elvis
Maybe etc is singing lead?
Well, it ain't Elvis"!! A poor 'song' too in my opinion. Only listened to that "Home Recordings" CD once or twice.
Most here will agree RCA's Ernst Jørgensen is more of an expert on Presley than anyone on this forum. If a cut is chosen by him for release on an official Elvis Presley CD, it is because Elvis Presley sings on it.

If you have any thoughts on topic, do share them. ;-)


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Winston wrote:That is a interesting read, thanks for it!
I must admit, until this topic, I had never heard of the By Liners, and I was very surprised to do research and learn they actually charted with "Mary Lou Brown" in February 1962. It's a nondescript little number.


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by luckyjackson1 »

I recall a funny line about the same subject years back: "Elvis can be heard barfing in the back" or something. Never forget that.

But I can hear him singing along with Red and Charlie just fine.


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by Marko »

Nice research. Interesting topic.

When I spoke with Red in 1996 he mentioned that Ernst had been in contact with him about the home recordings. I understood that Ernst had Red listen through those recordings and indentify who was singing on them. He even explained how he had bought 2 expensive tape recorders to use to record demos with Charlie Hodge. There is indeed a possibility that Red in fact wrote the song but -for some reason- chose not have his name as the writer of the track in the first place. People did do that for various reasons.


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Marko wrote:Nice research. Interesting topic.

When I spoke with Red in 1996 he mentioned that Ernst had been in contact with him about the home recordings. I understood that Ernst had Red listen through those recordings and indentify who was singing on them. He even explained how he had bought 2 expensive tape recorders to use to record demos with Charlie Hodge. There is indeed a possibility that Red in fact wrote the song but -for some reason- chose not have his name as the writer of the track in the first place. People did do that for various reasons.
That is exactly my theory, too. Why would Red lie? To reap the huge profits from RCA's The Home Recordings?


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by rjm »

Fascinating. It's hard to imagine Charlie being involved without Red also being involved, so I would guess Red was indeed involved. I think it was a glitch. A mistake.

But somehow the involvement of the others disappeared later, and Red claimed sole credit. It wouldn't be for profit; it would just be claiming sole credit because he wanted to. Perhaps he was annoyed that it had originally come out without his name on it at all . . . if it was in error, or perhaps someone had neglected to place his name on it, he would have been peeved, methinks. Charlie?

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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by keninlincs »

Not the best song ,but clearly Elvis sings on it Tony


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by memfisking »

Marko wrote:There is indeed a possibility that Red in fact wrote the song but -for some reason- chose not have his name as the writer of the track in the first place. People did do that for various reasons.
How many other songs did Red write and not claim credit for?


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by Marko »

memfisking wrote:
Marko wrote:There is indeed a possibility that Red in fact wrote the song but -for some reason- chose not have his name as the writer of the track in the first place. People did do that for various reasons.
How many other songs did Red write and not claim credit for?
I'm not aware other such tracks involving Red West but it's not uncommon practice. For example Love Me Tender credits Vera Matson as a writer but the lyrics were actually written by her husband Ken Darby.


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

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keninlincs wrote:Not the best song ,but clearly Elvis sings on it Tony
2 voices - Charlie and Red in some fans opinion who I've discussed this with on Elvis holidays etc. Compare it to "I will be home again - Charlie and Elvis. Maybe Elvis is singing on this song as well then; :wink:
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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by drjohncarpenter »

memfisking wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
Marko wrote:There is indeed a possibility that Red in fact wrote the song but -for some reason- chose not have his name as the writer of the track in the first place. People did do that for various reasons.
That is exactly my theory, too. Why would Red lie? To reap the huge profits from RCA's The Home Recordings?
How many other songs did Red write and not claim credit for?
In 1962 Red and Charlie cooked up a pop number called "We're Gonna Have a Good Time." During the sessions for "Girls! Girls! Girls!" some of the lyrics were repurposed at Elvis' request for a song called "Plantation Rock." West revealed all years later in an EMM interview.
Can you remember writing a song called 'We're Gonna'Have A Good Time'?

No. Y'know it's kinda' funny - I get my royalty statements from all these different labels and there's three or four songs I don't remember writing! I know I wrote them - but I don't remember that one!

The information we have is that it's a song you wrote with Charlie Hodge. Elvis never recorded lt, but some of the lyrics were used in a song he recorded for the 'Girls! Girls! Girls!' movie called 'Plantation Rock' - that's a Giant, Baum & Kaye song. I presume they 'borrowed' some of your lyrics and put them in their song...

Okay, I am familiar with that now - but it's the other way round. They wrote their song and Elvis liked the melody, but he wanted different lyrics - so I changed the lyrics. I didn't take credit for it - I just wanted to get the song done because he liked lt so much. So we went in - had a big session added to do that song - and he did it with my lyrics in there. They didn't put my name on it - I just did it as a favour. Yeah, now that you've brought that up I remember it well. lt was still their song -Giant, Baum & Kaye - but I changed some of the lyrics.

Red West Interview by Trevor Cajiao, EMM #22, March 1994

That's one example, but there certainly could be more, such as the song being discussed on this topic. ;-)


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by r&b »

Poor song. Elvis certainly sang some strange songs in private. His tastes certainly were not rock oriented.




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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by Marko »

r&b wrote:Poor song. Elvis certainly sang some strange songs in private. His tastes certainly were not rock oriented.
Talking about the home recordings Red noted that Elvis absolutely loved to sing "close harmony" with him and Charlie. They had their own trio going. Elvis' love for this style is demonstrated on those home recordings and also on Beyond The Reef which was taped during the How Great Thou Art sessions.

..


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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by r&b »

Marko wrote:
r&b wrote:Poor song. Elvis certainly sang some strange songs in private. His tastes certainly were not rock oriented.
Talking about the home recordings Red noted that Elvis absolutely loved to sing "close harmony" with him and Charlie. They had their own trio going. Elvis' love for this style is demonstrated on those home recordings and also on Beyond The Reef which was taped during the How Great Thou Art sessions.

..
Fine, but man there has to be better songs to sing 3 part harmony in that this one and Beyond The Reef. Anything by the Kingston Trio perhaps. In My Room by The Beach Boys or many other pop/folk songs. Im just saying , in private, I think his tastes were not what you'd expect from the worlds biggest pop star.



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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by drjohncarpenter »

r&b wrote:Fine, but man there has to be better songs to sing 3 part harmony in that this one and Beyond The Reef. Anything by the Kingston Trio perhaps. In My Room by The Beach Boys or many other pop/folk songs. Im just saying , in private, I think his tastes were not what you'd expect from the worlds biggest pop star.
"Beyond The Reef" is a wonderful song, and inspired by Bing Crosby's recording. And on one of the 1966 demo tape releases, you hear them singing along to the Kingston Trio's instrumental arrangement of "Blowin' In The Wind."

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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by keninlincs »

Tony.. wrote:
keninlincs wrote:Not the best song ,but clearly Elvis sings on it Tony
2 voices - Charlie and Red in some fans opinion who I've discussed this with on Elvis holidays etc. Compare it to "I will be home again - Charlie and Elvis. Maybe Elvis is singing on this song as well then; :wink:
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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by r&b »

drjohncarpenter wrote:
r&b wrote:Fine, but man there has to be better songs to sing 3 part harmony in that this one and Beyond The Reef. Anything by the Kingston Trio perhaps. In My Room by The Beach Boys or many other pop/folk songs. Im just saying , in private, I think his tastes were not what you'd expect from the worlds biggest pop star.
"Beyond The Reef" is a wonderful song, and inspired by Bing Crosby's recording. And on one of the 1966 demo tape releases, you hear them singing along to the Kingston Trio's instrumental arrangement of "Blowin' In The Wind."

---

Meanwhile, where has the OP gone? Is he afraid to comment on all the wonderful posts? Since creating this on 12-7, he's visited 4 times, including today.
Beyond The Reef was a bad choice for me to make, as it wasnt a home recording. I meant to limit it to just home recordings. I think the best home recordings are the ones he made in Germany, such as Earth Angel, Apron Strings, etc. although they suffer from poor sound. I find the 60's home recordings pretty boring choices, although After Loving You was pretty nice to hear that way.



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Re: Mary Lou Brown --> A Songwriting Mystery

Post by luckyjackson1 »

r&b wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
r&b wrote:Fine, but man there has to be better songs to sing 3 part harmony in that this one and Beyond The Reef. Anything by the Kingston Trio perhaps. In My Room by The Beach Boys or many other pop/folk songs. Im just saying , in private, I think his tastes were not what you'd expect from the worlds biggest pop star.
"Beyond The Reef" is a wonderful song, and inspired by Bing Crosby's recording. And on one of the 1966 demo tape releases, you hear them singing along to the Kingston Trio's instrumental arrangement of "Blowin' In The Wind."

---

Meanwhile, where has the OP gone? Is he afraid to comment on all the wonderful posts? Since creating this on 12-7, he's visited 4 times, including today.
Beyond The Reef was a bad choice for me to make, as it wasnt a home recording. I meant to limit it to just home recordings. I think the best home recordings are the ones he made in Germany, such as Earth Angel, Apron Strings, etc. although they suffer from poor sound. I find the 60's home recordings pretty boring choices, although After Loving You was pretty nice to hear that way.
I like "Tennessee Waltz" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" very much and was delighted to hear them sung by our man.


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