Sun | Jan 21, 2018

The Music Diaries | Chuck Jackson - a man of many tear-jerkers

Published:Sunday | February 26, 2017 | 12:20 AM
Chuck Jackson
Chuck Jackson

"Any day now, I will hear you say

Goodbye my love and you'll be on your way

Then my wild beautiful bird you will have flown, ooh

Any day now I'll be all alone".

These are words from the opening stanza of Chuck Jackson's most popular recording in Jamaica during the 1960s, titled Anyday Now. The recording was a regular visitor to the Jamaican charts, while Jukebox punchers found it almost irresistible. Jackson's other top songs in Jamaica were, Tell Him I'm Not Home, If I Didn't Love You, The Prophet and Any Other Way.

One of the noticeable features, however, of Jackson's singing career, was his 'crying songs', which, as the name suggests, were mostly tear-jerkers. It was a phenomenon that became peculiar to Jackson, as he reeled off hits like Tears On My Pillow, (Weeping) Willow Tree, I Don't Want To Cry, In Between Tears, Tear Of The Year, I Cried For You, Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying, Salty Tears, Lonely Teardrops, I Wake Up Crying, A Man Ain't Supposed To Cry, and A Tear.

Born in South Carolina USA, in 1937, Jackson was deeply rooted in church music as a boy. By his teenage years, he became a regular with the doo-wop group - Del Vikings, who themselves were popular in Jamaica with the two recordings - Whispering Bells and Come Go With Me, in the 1960s. His big break came as he performed an opening act with The Del Vikings on a Jackie Wilson show at the Apollo. His performance impressed music industry executives and a fierce bidding ensued to sign him. Jackson opted for the WAND label, a subsidiary of Sceptre Records.

Jackson, the man of the moment, should be differentiated from his namesake Chuck Jackson, who was one-half of the production and songwriting team, (the other half being Marvin Yancy), who was responsible for launching the career of Natalie Cole. The singer, Chuck Jackson, debuted with two 'crying songs', which basically set the tone for his future recordings. The first was, I Don't Want To Cry (in 1961), written by Jackson and Luther Dixon. But what is it that could have driven this 23 year old youngster to employ so much lugubrious tones in his recordings? Allen H. Berzofsky in his liner notes for Jackson's album, I Don't Want To Cry, sought to give an explanation:

"It's no coincidence that Chuck Jackson's first two singles and additional songs were concerned with crying. The young man has a natural emotional inflection in his voice and, coupled with a dramatically intense delivery, just seems to lend himself ideally to this type of material". It was an emotional ride as Jackson sang the lyrics to his first song:

"I still love you

Like I did before

But before you smile

And walk through the door, darling

I don't wanna cry, I don't wanna cry".

Chuck seems to lean favourably to several genres while he unleashed these tear-jerkers. They include ballads, soul, blues, jazz and pop.