The Heart of Rock and Soul
Dave Marsh, 1989
We all know by now that success doesn't insure happiness. But how can anyone sound so abject as Little Willie John does here, on the follow-up to his biggest hit, " Fever"? Don't tell me it's just that Peggy Lee ripped him off with a version about one hundredth as good (anb still pretty decent), or even that she got paid a lot, while he got paid hardly at all.
No, this man's malaise is more profound by far. He sings as if in certain knowledge of his own ultimate fate - dead before he hit forty coughing his lungs out in a Washington State Penitentiary was doing time for homicide.
Oh, he just says that he's despondent because he's without a lover. But we've heard that song and dance before. Little Willie John is talking about the nether reaches of human misery, in a voice absolutely creaking in agony. Part of it might have to do with the fact that he's illiterate - " Write it on a paper so it can be read to me," he cries matter-of-factly-but mostly it's just that night is coming on, and he's going to have to get through it by himself again. If he can.