#1244: I Can Make It With You by Jackie DeShannon

Peak Months: September 1966
5 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #10
1 week Up ‘N Comers
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #68
YouTube.com: “I Can Make It With You
“I Can Make It With You” lyrics

Sharon Lee Myers was born in Hazel, Kentucky, in 1941, a town on the Tennessee and western Kentucky border. When she was only two years old she received her first vocal training. By 1947, she was appearing on a local radio station as a child country and western singer. And by 1952, Sharon Lee Myers was hosting her own radio show. In 1954, with the family farm posing mounting challenges, the family moved to her mother’s home town of Aurora, Illinois, a seven hour drive north of Hazel. A year later, when she was in 8th grade, the family moved to nearby Batavia, Illinois. Her dad became a barber and young Sharon got instant recognition in the local paper. A headline in on May 5, 1955, in the Batavia Herald read “Sharon Lee Myers, Only 13, Is Talented Batavia Vocalist.” The paper enthused, “Though only 13, the youngster can boast almost 11 years of voice training and experience and in the past she has toured most of the south making personal appearances. Also she has sung on radio with a rhythm band for 2 years and has appeared on television 3 times.”

The following year, now billed as Sherry Lee Myers, the young singer appeared on a TV broadcast of CBS affiliate in Chicago on March 3, 1956. In anticipation of her upcoming TV appearance, the Batavia Herald wrote: “Sherry Lee is a busy young lady. Each Saturday morning at 9:30 she is on the WMRO radio show, Saturday nights she is the vocalist with the valley’s Square Dance Band, Don Lee and his Fox Valley Boys. She had made appearances with the Pee Wee King Show at Ottawa, Rockford and LaSalle in recent weeks. Following her television appearance this Saturday night, the young Batavia artist will appear at the West Aurora Junior High School auditorium on Sunday, March 4th for three shows, 2, 4, and 8 P.M.”

In 1956, Sherry Lee recorded her first single on Mar-Vel Records based in Hammond, Indiana. On the Mar-Vel label, their singles bore the motto: “Hits of Tomorrow Recorded Today.” Mar-Vel Records had her billed as “Sixteen year old Miss Country Music” on the label credits. Lee was described as a confident young girl with a clear, warm voice. The single, “Baby Honey”, featured Sherry Lee attempting a fast paced country waltz with ringing steel guitar behind that got out of synch with the rhythm with each successive verse.

Next, Myers was billed as Jackie Dee. Billboard wrote in their June 10, 1957, issue that Sherry Lee Myers is a “16-year old C&W singer of Batavia, Illinois.” Music writer Bill Sachs reported that Myers had been “recently signed as a rockabilly artist by George Goldner’s Gone Records in New York, out of the Gale Agency in the Big Town.” Her managers, Irving Schacht and Paul Kallett, had changed her name to Jackie Dee. Her single for Gone Records was “I’ll Be True”, a 1953 R&B hit for Faye Adams, and “How Wrong I Was”. With her single release, Jackie Dee appeared at the Uptown Theater, Philadelphia on 3rd July 1957, and at the Paramount in Brooklyn, New York, with Alan Freed’s Big Rock’n’ roll Show in mid-July.

Then, in 1958, Jackie Dee recorded two songs she wrote in Nashville. The “Strolypso Dance” was a tune that borrowed from both Brenda Lee and Paul Anka in vocal style. The song was set to a beat that could be danced to either The Stroll or Calypso. The other tune, “Buddy,” imitated Brenda Lee and got Jackie Dee some attention on a few radio stations. After Liberty Records released this single, Jackie Dee switched to Fraternity Records to release “Just Another Lie.” But this time she the song was credited to Jackie Shannon and The Cajuns. Then in 1959, Jackie Shannon released “Trouble”, a song featured in the Elvis Presley film King Creole. This time she appeared on the PJ label. Several more releases in 1959 appeared on Edison International under the billing of Jackie DeShannon. After one more single release with this label, she switched back to Liberty Records. In 1961, she moved to Hollywood.

From 1960 to 1964, Jackie DeShannon released 15 singles with Liberty. A couple of these, including “Needles And Pins” and “When You Walk In The Room” made the Billboard Hot 100 at #84 and #99 respectively. In Vancouver, the former song charted to #8 and the latter to #21.

In 1964, she appeared in a surfing movie with Bobby Vinton titled Surf Party. In February 1964, Jackie DeShannon formed party of a touring band with Ry Cooder to open for The Beatles North American tour that included 26 concerts. That same year she wrote “Come And Stay With Me,” a hit for Marianne Faithfull.

In 1965, Jackie DeShannon switched labels again and had a Top Ten hit in the USA with “What The World Needs Now Is Love.” The song climbed to #6 on CKLG in Vancouver. While the sales from the single were auspicious, Jackie DeShannon wouldn’t crack the Top 60 again until 1969. Over the next few years she had little success with her commercial releases. But in Vancouver she continued to chart well. In September 1966 she made the Top Ten with “I Can Make It With You”.

I Can Make It With You by Jackie DeShannon

“I Can Make It With You” is a song written by Chip Taylor. Taylor was born in 1940 in Yonkers, New York, with the given name James Wesley Voight. His brother Jon became a very successful actor beginning with an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Midnight Cowboy in 1969. Taylor’s first successful hit as a songwriter was “Wild Thing” for the Troggs. He wrote “Wild Things” in 1965 and they took it to #1 in on the Billboard Hot 100 the weeks of July 30 and August 6, 1966. “Wild Things” topped the charts in Vancouver for three weeks from June 25 to July 9, 1966. Earlier in 1966, Taylor penned “I Can’t Let Go” which became a #1 hit for the Hollies in the UK and climbed to #16 in Vancouver in the April ’66. And in September ’66, Chip Taylor’s “Make Me Belong To You” was a Top 20 hit in Vancouver for Barbara Lewis.

In 1968 Chip Taylor’s “Angel Of The Morning” became a Top Ten hit for Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts. Aside from penning songs for other recording artists, as a country singer, Taylor released twenty-five studio albums between 1971 and 2017. In the ’70’s Chip Taylor had five singles enter the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Chip Taylor’s album Yonkers, NY earned him a Grammy Award nomination in 2011 for best recording package. However, The Black Keys won the Grammy for their album Brothers. Chip Taylor was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2016.

“I Can Make It With You” was recorded first by the Pozo-Seco Singers and shortly after by Jackie DeShannon. The Pozo-Seco Singers version was upbeat compared to the overproduced and slower tempo DeShannon version. The Pozo-Seco Singers were the only ones to take the song into the Billboard Top 40, peaking at #32, while Jackie DeShannon’s version stalled at #68. In Vancouver, both versions of the song climbed the CKLG chart in tandem. Her version climbed to #7 in San Bernardino and Palmdale (CA). But it disappointed in most other radio markets. While the Pozo-Seco Singers version of “I Can Make It With You” climbed to #1 in Omaha, #3 in Bakersfield (CA) and Grande Prairie (AB), #4 in Detroit and Orlando, #5 in Windsor (ON), #6 in Houston and Salt Lake City, #7 in Akron (OH) #8 in Milwaukee and #9 in Newport News (VA) and Wilmington, Delaware.

“I Can Make It With You” opens with a grim portrait of a person who has the world on their shoulders, and “all hope for tomorrow was gone.” All life had lost its meaning for the person narrating the tale. Moreover, the dreams they once held had been “shattered by time.”  In that moment of darkness they see little point in living. Fortunately, they encounter a person with a sunny disposition who takes their hand and makes them see “there’s a future for me.” The lyrics draw on a story in the Gospel of Luke called the Prodigal Son. When the son returns to the father, the father has a feast for the son. The older son who had loyally stayed with the father while the younger son was living a carefree life wants an explanation. The father exclaims to the older son that he did this “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And so Chip Taylor wrote in “I Can Make It With You”: “I remember when I was down. I’ve been lost, but I’ve been found.”

Jackie DeShannon’s followup single release was ”Come On Down (From The Top Of That Hill)”. It stalled beneath the Billboard Hot 100 at #121. But in Vancouver, the tune reached #13 in February 1967. In 1968 her version of “The Weight” climbed to #16 in Vancouver and #55 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite her being from the USA, DeShannon often had better chart runs in Vancouver.

In 1967, Jackie DeShannon appeared in a college-themed film titled C’mon, Let’s Live A Little. She co-starred with Eddie Hodges and Bobby Vee. In 1969, she had her biggest hit, “Put A Little Love In Your Heart,” which climbed to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. After the sixties, DeShannon turned to songwriting for other recording artists. He biggest success was with “Bette Davis Eyes,” a #1 song recorded by Kim Carnes in 1981. Between 1963 and 2000, she recorded twenty-one studio albums and was featured on two soundtrack albums.

March 23, 2019
Ray McGinnis

References:
Marc Myers, Put a Little House in Your Heart: After touring with the Beatles, Jackie DeShannon became a hit pop-rock songwriter in L.A., Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2013.
Sharon Lee Myers, Only 13, Is Talented Batavia Vocalist”, Batavia Herald, Batavia, Illinois, May 5, 1955, p. 1.
“Batavia Banter: On Television Show.” Batavia Herald, Batavia, Illinois, March 1, 1956, p. 12
Peter Lerner, Sweet Sherry: The Early Recording Career of Jackie DeShannon, Spectropop.com.
Bill Sachs, Folk, Talent & Tunes, Billboard, June 10, 1957, p. 61.
Fast Forces of Attraction, Psychology Today, January 1, 2008.
Nick Paumgarten, The Chill, The New Yorker, July 7, 2008.
Chip Taylor inductee bio, Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2016.

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