#1105: Come Back to Me My Love by Mark Dinning

Peak Month: September 1960
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #7
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Come Back To Me My Love
Lyrics: “Come Back To Me My Love”

In 1933 Max Edward Dinning was born in the town of Manchester, Oklahoma, a hamlet of about 275 people some 70 miles southwest of Wichita, Kansas. After he became the youngest of nine children in the Dinning family, they moved to a farm near Nashville, Tennessee. His family was musical and three of his older sisters became country music trio billed as the Dinning Sisters. They performed from the early 40’s through the 1950’s. In 1950 Mark Dinning learned to play the electric guitar and pursued a career recording and performing country music on stage. He sang songs like “Streets of Laredo” which got him a recording contract in 1957. Wesley Rose, an MGM producer, got Dinning a regional hit in Tennessee in January 1959 called “The Black Eyed Gypsy” which peaked at #3 in Memphis.

MGM put more effort into his second single on the label. It was called “Teen Angel” and co-written by Mark’s sister Jean and brother-in-law Red Surrey. It became a #1 hit in North America. The lyrics, which told of the death of a teenage girl who runs back to a get a high school ring despite it being in a stalled car on a railroad track. The last verse ends with the lyrics: “I’ll never kiss your lips again/ They buried you today.” The final line in the coda asks the Teen Angel to: “Answer me, please.” “Teen Angel” was released in October 1959. The song was not an instant success, with radio stations in the U.S. banning the song, considering it too sad. Despite the reluctance of radio stations, the song continued to climb the charts. In the last week of 1959, the single jumped from #100 to #50 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and took the #1 spot in February 1960. (It spent two weeks at #1 in Vancouver on February 13 and 20, 1960). The song sold over one million copies. It was part of a trio of #1 hits in early 1960 that featured tragic deaths of the characters in the storyline. The other hits were “El Paso” by Marty Robbins and “Running Bear” by Johnny Preston.

Dinning had several more singles to crack the Billboard Hot 100. His follow-up to “Teen Angel” was “A Star Is Born (A Love Has Died)“. In this case what died was not the life of a human being, but the love between two people:
Side by side, hand in hand/You said you’d wear my weeding band.
I gave you love and happiness/You wanted fame and great success.

The song was not a hit in North America, though it climbed into the Top 40 in Australia. Dinnings’ next single release was “The Lovin’ Touch”. The song about a natural physical chemistry climbed to #84 in the USA while it cracked the Top 20 in Vancouver, peaking at #19. But it was the B-side that was the bigger hit in Vancouver. “Come Back to Me, My Love” rose to the #7 position on the CFUN charts.

Come Back to Me My Love by Mark Dinning

The song was written by Roy Orbison and inspired him to subsequently write “Only The Lonely” and record it himself. Sometimes when a person is infatuated with someone else, upon learning what their birthday is and how old they are becomes part of a romantic fantasy. It seems the guy who got to know his “baby” who he was dating while she was 15 years old, has created a story in his mind about her life story:

Sixteen years ago today/
early one sunday morn/just before the break of day/a cute little girl was born.
From that very moment on/her life’s been gay and free/Laughing eyes and loving ways/as sweet as she can be.

Of course, if the guy is much older, who was dating the girl who is fifteen going on sixteen, he is singing the song from firsthand experience. But then, it would be very rare for a 15 year old girl to date a guy who was years older then her, especially in 1960 with her parents approval. So I opt for the scenario that the now ex-boyfriend was either in the same grade or maybe a grade or two above her (grade 11 or grade 12). In any event, on the cusp of her turning sixteen years old, she’s replaced the boy who is singing about her for someone else.

But perhaps the lyrics that drove the songs emotional power, and helped make some Vancouver radio listeners rush off to pick up a 45 RPM of Mark Dinning’s single, were the nonsense lyrics preceding the words to the title of the song:

Bum bum bum da de da,
oh oh oh yeah yeah,
bum bum bum da de da ah
come back to me my love,
come back to me.

In Dinning’s tender rendering of “bum bum bum da de da…” he evoked something unnamable and yet emotionally powerful that spoke to numbers of teenagers. The human voice when given to song can convey an amazing range of emotion in different notes on the scale. And what the voice sings does not need to be grammatical English or even words found in the dictionary. Anyone who ever enjoyed viewing the 1964 musical Mary Poppins, with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, likely sang along to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The tune communicated fun, creativity and the joy of playing the fool.

In the late 50s’ and into the 60’s there were a substantial number of songs on the pop charts that included nonsense lyrics.

The Elegants had a #1 song in 1958 called “Little Star” that featured these lyrics tenderly expressed:

Whoa oh, oh, oh-uh-oh,
ratta ta ta tara too-ooh-ooh.
Whoa oh, oh, oh-uh-oh
ratta ta ta tara too-ooh-ooh.

In 1958, The silhouettes had a #1 hit with “Get A Job” about the need to find summer work that featured these demanding lyrics:

Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip,
sha na na na, sha na na na na,
sha na na na, sha na na na na,
sha na na na, sha na na na na,
sha na na na, sha na na na na,
yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip,
mum mum mum mum mum mum,
Get a job, sha na na na, sha na na na na.

In 1958 David Seville was experimenting with speeding up the recordings of his voice to create the animated characters Alvin, Theodore and Simon, who were featured on a cartoon show and in this chart topping hit called “Witch Doctor“. The nonsense lyrics to the song added to the zany, fanciful story he was telling about how to find love in your life:

Ooh, eeh, ooh, ah, ah, ting, tang, walla, walla, bing, bang,
Ooh, eeh, ooh, ah, ah, ting, tang, walla, walla, bing, bang.

In the spring of 1961 the old Rogers and Hart classic from the 1930’s, “Blue Moon“, was given a new makeover by the doo-wop group, The Marcels, who opened the song with these lyrics:

Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom/ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba
dang a dang dang ba ba ding a dong ding
Blue moon moon blue moon dip di dip di dip
Moo Moo Moo Blue moon dip di dip di dip
Moo Moo Moo Blue moon dip di dip di dip
Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom
ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang
Ba ba ding a dong ding...

In March 1963 The Chiffons had a #1 hit called “He’s So Fine“. The lyrics were introduced and interspersed with the nonsense phrase “Do-lang, do-lang, do-lang, do-lang, do-lang” to underscore the depth of desire for the handsome, soft-spoken guy with the wavy hair.

And in 1959 Little Anthony & The Imperials began their hit about a girl who did a native dance in a native hut, “Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop“, perhaps understandably with:

Oh ! Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh – ah!/Oh ! Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh – ah!
Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop/Shimmy Shimmy Bop
Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop/Shimmy Shimmy Bop

These were among many songs in the early rock era that included nonsense lyrics to evoke emotion. Mark Dinning’s rendering of Roy Orbison’s “Come Back To Me My Love” was in good company on the pop charts. While his song peaked at #7 in Vancouver, Jo-Ann Campbell’s “Kookie Little Paradise” was climbing the Vancouver charts complete with nonsense lyrics and Tarzan calls.

Dinning tried to have a hit single with “She Cried On My Shoulder (While She Talked About You)“. But this sad song missed the Billboard Hot 100, though DJ’s in Vancouver gave it a spin and it spent a month in the bottom of the charts peaking at #34. He had one last appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Top 40 News, Weather And Sports” which climbed to #6 on Vancouver’s CFUN chart in February 1961. In the span of 13 months Mark Dinning had charted one song to #1, two more into the Top Ten and three more on the Vancouver charts. In May of ’61 Dinning released another song penned by Roy Orbison called “Another Lonely Girl”. The song got airplay on CKWX and was listed as one of the Top of the “Hot Prospects” the week of May 6-13/61. But after a week the song was dropped from the playlist. Dinning got a local hit in Bakersfield, California, in the spring of 1962 called “All Of This For Sally” that went Top 5. He managed a Top 20 hit in 1967 in Nashville called “It’s Such A Pretty World Today“.

However, off stage Dinning’s life was unraveling. He had his own slow tragedy of an addiction to alcohol that eventually ended his career. His repeated appearances at concerts where he was too intoxicated to perform. Fans were angry they’d paid money for concerts that never materialized. This caused promoters to stop booking Mark Dinning and he faded from public view. He died of a heart attack in Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1986 at the age of 52.

June 13, 2017
Ray McGinnis

Tim de Lisle, Pop’s Love Affair With Nonsense Lyrics, Guardian, July 29, 2005.
Gribin, Dr. Anthony J. and Shiff, Dr. Matthew M. The Complete Book of Doo Wop. Collectables, 2006.
Lawrence Pitilli, Doo-Wop Accappela: A Story of Street Corners, Echoes and Three Part Harmonies, (Rowan & Littlefield, 2016).
Mark Dinning, Rockabilly.nl.
John Jackson, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘N’ Roll Empire, (Oxford, 1997).
Douglas Martin, “Jean Dinning, Songwriter of Pop Tragedy ‘Teen Angel,’ Dies at 86,” New York Times, March 12, 2011.
Graham Reid, Mark Dinning: Teen Angel (1959), Elsewhere.co.nz, July 25, 2012.
C-FUN-Tastic 50,” CFUN 1410 AM, Vancouver, BC, September 10, 1960.

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