182 – Tell Me Why – Joey Levine
Original version recorded February 27 1964
Ukulele Version recorded July 3 2012
Joey Levine – Vocals
Jeff Southworth: Guitar, vocals, bass, drums, organ
David Barratt: Ukulele
Recorded at Crushing Music and Jam Entertainment by John Squicciarino and Jeff Southworth
Mix and additional production at The Abattoir Of Good Taste by David Barratt
Produced by Joey Levine, Jeff Southworth and David Barratt
Written by John Lennon
Credited to Lennon & McCartney
ABOUT THE SONG
When John Lennon underwent primal therapy in 1970 he was advised by his therapist Arthur Janov to revisit his old material to find clues to his anxieties he was feeling.
Between 1962 and 1969 deceit, desertion and revenge occur again and again in Johns songs. “No Reply”, “I Call Your Name”, “I’ll Cry Instead” and many others are sad bitter pieces where the object of his scorn has let him down in some horrible way.
When he went back to that material he realized that many of his songs related to John’s separation from his mother. John’s reaction to this was to write about those same subjects in a more direct and self-conscious way. “Mother”, Isolation & “My Mummy’s Dead” all came directly from those therapeutic sessions.
“Tell Me Why” is another from that cannon.
He could be singing directly to his mother, pleading:
“And if something I have said or done
Tell me what and I’ll apologize
If you don’t I really can’t go on
Holding back these tears in my eyes”
Despite, or maybe because of, it’s Freudian overtones “Tell Me Why” is one of The Beatles more straight forward recordings.
An upbeat number was needed for a scene in “A Hard Days Night” and John quickly came up with a song that could have been covered by “The Crystals” or “The Shirelles”. He wrote it just after coming back from New York and had been listening to R&B radio.
It was recorded on the same day as “And I Love Her” and “If I Fell”. After all the sensitivity and gentility shown in those recordings you can hear the pure exuberance as the band tear into “Tell Me Why”.
The Ukulele Version by Joey Levine has a similar exuberance and salutes a very underrated chapter of American Pop music.
In the late1960’s as The Beatles were rejecting straight pop structure and started exploring more exotic and experimental forms, a new genre appeared that filled the gap. So was born Bubblegum.
Bubblegum Music was singles driven, contrived, simplistic and totally magnificent. It was produced in an assembly-line process, created by producers using the best musicians available and unknown singers.
One of the masters of the form was Joey Levine. He sang and/or wrote for 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Ohio Express and several other Bubblegum Groups. It is impossible to resist singing along with songs like “Yummy Yummy Yummy” or "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)”.
Joey has reimagined The Beatles as a Bubblegum Group – which in many respects they were.
Jeff Southworth decided to use actual gear that was used on many Bubblegum recordings –a mid-60’s Vox AC10, with a ’64 Rickenbacker 360 6-string, and a ’64 Gretsch 6120 providing the guitars.
Of course ukulele was never used on Bubblegum recordings but we have put that right here.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
He sang lead vocals on several charted Top 40 singles, including "Run Run Run" by The Third Rail (1966), "Yummy Yummy Yummy" and others by The Ohio Express (1968 – 1969), "Quick Joey Small" by Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus (1968), and the record that best showcased his rapid speech delivery, "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" by Reunion (1974). He specialized in what was known as bubblegum pop.
Levine produced records for Super K Productions, run by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz, who released many singles in the late 1960s by The Ohio Express, The 1910 Fruitgum Company, and The Music Explosion. Levine sang lead for various groups of studio musicians, whose songs were released under the name of actual groups of musicians, or sometimes the groups did not exist at all outside the studio.
Starting in the early 1970s, Levine began working on jingles for television commercials, as well as singing on them, with one of his most well-remembered jingles being "Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut" for Mounds and Almond Joy chocolate bars.
Levine founded Crushing Enterprises in New York City in 1969, and continues to write music for commercials and television. Popular campaigns from the past include: “Pepsi – The Joy Of Cola”, “Gentlemen Prefer Hanes”, “Just For the Taste of It – Diet Coke”, “Orange you smart, (for drinking Orange Juice)”, “Come See the Softer Side of Sears”, “Heartbeat of America – Chevy”, “Dr Pepper – You Make the World Taste Better”, “You Asked For It, You Got It, Toyota,” "Who’s that Kid With the Oreo Cookie," and "This Bud’s For You" for Anheuser-Busch.
Recently he wrote the current Budweiser anthem, "This Is Budweiser, This Is Beer." In addition, Levine has also contributed songs, some of them with his 1960’s bubblegum pop sound, to the PBS series Dragon Tales.