114. ‘Walk Right Back’ / ‘Ebony Eyes’, by The Everly Brothers

The Everly Brothers, clearly working on the ‘if it ain’t broke’ principal of hit-record making, return with their third UK chart-topper. Their second – ‘Cathy’s Clown’ – was so good, so seismically bloody brilliant, that who could blame them for trying to repeat the trick?

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Walk Right Back / Ebony Eyes, by The Everly Brothers (their 3rd of four #1s)

3 weeks, from 2nd – 23rd March 1961

And yet ‘Walk Right Back’ is not simply a blow-by-blow remake. The marching rhythm remains – albeit in a much lighter shade – and the drums are every bit as commanding. But this is great little record in its own right.

I want you to tell me why you walked out on me, I’m so lonesome every da-a-ay… I want you to know that since you walked out on me, Nothin’ seems to be the same ol’ way… Are they perhaps pining over Cathy? Has she finally quit toying with them, and moved on to another guy? (Why do I always picture the Everly Brothers dating the same woman…?)

What’s for sure is that they’ve both grown a pair since the days of ‘Cathy’s Clown’. The chorus comes, and they positively demand that she: Walk right back to me this minute, Bring your love to me don’t send it… The harmonies remain strong, this is clearly the Everly’s in mid-season form – their imperious phase – and it stands a cut above most of what we’ve heard recently on this countdown. Take, for example, ‘Poetry in Motion’: a perfectly acceptable, catchy pop song. But it’s a class below this. This is high quality pop music; better than 90% of its contemporaries in a way that’s as undeniable as it is hard to explain.

The song ends on a fade-out, the brothers bemoaning that they’re so lonesome every day… And that’s that. I apologise for rushing, but we do have the flip side of this disc to get to. A song that’s nowhere near as good; but which will be much more fun to write about. ‘Ebony Eyes’ sounds, before you listen, like pure B-side fodder. And it is. But in the best possible way…

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On a weekend pass… (yep, they’re in the army now)… I wouldn’t have had time, To get home and marry, That baby of mine, So I went to the chaplain, And he authorised, Me to send for my ebony eyes… And so, Ebony Eyes hops aboard flight 1203, to Don’s, or Phil’s (or both’s?) army base. In an hour or two, I would whisper ‘I do’, To my beautiful ebony eyes…

This is soppy drivel. We’re back in the realm of ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’, the Everly’s first chart-topper, which was a world away from the brilliance of their current hits. But… What’s that? In an extended spoken word section, the brothers describe the ensuing events. I kind of want to type it out verbatim, it’s that good – but I’ll refrain. Here are the highlights:

The plane was way overdue, So I went inside to the airlines desk… They probably took off late, or they may have run into some turbulent weather, and had to alter their course… And then – a genuinely harrowing description of a plane-crash from the victims’ families POV: I went back outside and I waited at the gate, and I watched the beacon light from the control tower as it whipped through the dark ebony skies… he has to slow down here, to wait for the backing singers… As. If. It. Were. Searching. For… My eeeeboooony eyes… And then came the announcement over the loudspeaker, That those having relatives or friends on flight 1203…

Yup. Powerful stuff. We’ve got another death-disc here, folks. A Grade-A splatter-platter (brilliant term, that) which got banned from British radio for being a bit too graphic. We’ve had the goofy ‘Running Bear’, the toe-curlingly awful ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’, and now this. And just when you think this heartfelt and very natural sounding spoken word section is about to redeem the genre, and turn it into something with some musical merit about it, they start singing again.

If I ever get, To heaven I bet, The first angel I recognise… Yeah yeah, blah blah, it’s Ebony Eyes. Whatever. It kinda ruins it. But hey. This does what every good double ‘A’-side should do: places a big, proper hit alongside a completely different, slightly left-of-centre ditty. Apparently – and I can’t see why anyone thought this would be a good idea – ‘Walk Right Back’ was originally meant to be the ‘B’-side! Still, it’s always nice to hear from the Everlys, and it’s a bit sad to realise that we’ll only be seeing them once more on this countdown. ‘Till then, Don and Phil, ‘till then…

12 thoughts on “114. ‘Walk Right Back’ / ‘Ebony Eyes’, by The Everly Brothers

  1. badfinger20

    Thanks…I never noticed the similarities between Cathy’s Clown and this one. When you start repeating formulas it will catch up with you. Of the 50s acts…I thought the Everly Brothers should have continued making hits because their voices are timeless…but maybe the lack of songs or record company pushing them…they just faded after a while. Harmonies get no better than them.

    1. Apparently by releasing ‘Temptation’, which I’ll do a post on in a few weeks, they upset their manager (he didn’t have publishing rights and so wasn’t set to make much money from it) and lost access to a lot of their songwriters. The hits dried up pretty soon after… Maybe one reason they started to fade away?

  2. “Walk Right Back” is one of my absolute favorites. Sonny Curtis wrote it which explains the brilliance of the song itself (remember Buddy Holly’s “Ollie Vee”?! Now that’s a song.) But, of course, it’s Don and Phil who make “Walk Right Back” the perfection it is. I have “Ebony Eyes” on my 2-CD set, but I can’t recall it for any amount of prize money… I guess I was unimpressed. But ya know, when you say you picture The Everly Brothers dating the same woman, that kinda makes me break out in a jealous sweat. (Kidding. They’re too young for me anyway. 😀 )

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