Lord know where I chanced upon this beauty -- some show we were watching this summer. (I suspect it was the riveting Chris Rock season of Fargo.) But the minute I heard it, I knew it was going onto my permanent playlist. Have a listen:
Here's what little I know about Bobby Mitchell: Born in Algiers, Louisiana, he had a few local hits with high school friends the Toppers in 1953 when he was just 17; a year later the band broke up when several members got drafted. Bobby kept at the music thing, though,and while he never broke through to national fame, he was a fixture on the New Orleans R&B scene until he died in his 50s.
This particular song was originally recorded by Guitar Slim in 1953 as a slouchy blues number. It's since been covered by Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and I'm sure a host of others. But listen to how Bobby Mitchell transforms it. He leads off with a howl of frustration, a la the Isley Brothers' "Shout" (Mitchell recorded this in 1960, a year after "Shout"), then goes into a finger-snapping cha-cha beat, with a taunting sax and jittery splashes of roadhouse piano. His woman has done him wrong, and no matter how often he claims he's gotten over it, we know he's still riled up.
Almost as if to punish himself, he keeps rehearsing the facts of the case ("I didn't want you to be no angel"; "Every time I turned my back / You was out with some other man"; "I remember the day I first met you / You seemed to be this sweet little thing..."). He still can't believe he let her fool him like that. And of course, this being a blues song, he has to repeat the title phrase over and over, but with Bobby, it's as if he's still trying to convince himself. Fact is, he is anything but over it.
This song just crackles with energy, with hurt, with drama. We're in the thick of it with him, and there's no telling how things will end up. Mitchell's vocal is supple, emotive, and oh so relatable. It's just a crazy wonderful song, and I can't believe it's as obscure as it seems to be. Which just tells you, there's so much good music out there we have yet to find...