Carole King and Paul Simon
This song was written and first recorded in 1961 by a cat who called himself Jerry Landis. Of course, that was simply one of the many stage names Paul Simon used when he was just starting out making records. He also recorded as True Taylor and Paul Kane. He also sang lead vocals on some songs by Tico And The Triumphs and The Mystics, and did session work with Carole King as The Cosines. His early collaborations with high school chum Art Garfunkel were billed as by Tom And Jerry. Art Garfunkel also used some stage names of his own, including Tommy Graph and Artie Garr. A couple of years later, while still calling himself Jerry Landis, Paul Simon produced a record that featured this cover version of his song for a girl from New York City he discovered at Don Kirshner's who called herself Dotty Daniels. The flip side of Dotty's first record was one of her own compositions called I Wrote You A Letter.
Dotty Daniels, whose real name is Dorothy Goodman, first recorded as Desa Rae And The Soulettes on Swami Records in 1960 and is known today as Queen Goody, an international star of television, movies, musicals, plays, and more. Dotty lived in Brooklyn, New York, and attended the Ron Brown Academy where she acquired and perfected her talent for dancing, singing, acting and writing music. Her parents sang in the choir at Washington Temple, built in the old Loew's Theatre at 1372 Bedford Avenue by Bishop Frederick Douglas "F. D." Washington, whose ministry was known as "The Sawdust Trail." The Bishop's wife (did that remind you of the movie too?) was an incredible Gospel singer named Earnestine Washington who provided inspiration to young Dotty who became a soloist herself at the First Baptist Church of Sheepshead Bay while she was still a young child.
Dotty became a Brill Building songwriter and recording artist, often working closely with people like Paul Kaufman, Toni Wine and Evie Sands. She got to know the superstars too, like Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and Paul Simon. As a teen artist activist for civil rights Dotty appeared on Buddy Deane's television show in Baltimore, leading the movement to end segregation laws that actually made it illegal for black and white kids to dance with each other. (We've come a long way, thank you God.) This led to an appearance on Bob King's Teen Dance-a-Rama television dance show in Washington D.C., the first show in the nation to feature black dancers, along with stars Pat Boone, The Crystals, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
Here's Play Me A Sad Song by Dotty Daniels on Amy 885 from 1963:
This song was a huge local hit, climbing all the way to #1 on the WAVZ-AM 1300 Top 60 in New Haven, Connecticut on 17 August 1963, staying there for six weeks. Graveyard shift R&B spinner Jack Walker made it his Pick Hit on WLIB-AM 1190 in Harlem, playing it every 15 minutes for a whole week. WLIB Radio was also the home of the legendary Jocko Henderson, who personally helped Dotty with her budding career as a teen artist and composer. The record was also reviewed favorably in Cashbox on 11 May 1963 and Billboard on 22 June 1963.
There were some other people you might have heard of in the studio with Dotty and Paul Simon that night. Freddie Scott and Big Dee Irwin were there, along with some folks we just talked about here recently, Cissy Houston (who was six months pregnant with Whitney at the time) and Valerie Simpson (of Ashford and Simpson fame), along with Doris Troy and Dee Dee Warwick of the Sweet Inspirations, all contributing backing vocals.
Dotty followed this record with one more on the Amy label, I'm Alone b/w A Casual Look. That one is also very good and just might end up getting featured here someday! You can preview and buy Dotty's latest songs on Amazon.com by clicking here.
Here's Paul Simon's original version of Play Me A Sad Song on Warwick 619 from 1961:
A much improved stereo version of the song was later reissued with orchestral strings mixed over the original recording:
There are many more buried treasures like this waiting for you on MusicMaster Oldies. What are you waiting for? Give your virtual digital dial a spin and check it out!