In 1969, I had a long-playing record called “Laurel Canyon” that I wore the grooves out on some of the tracks.
The woman on the album cover had long blonde hair and was wearing some Hippie-Dippie pre-1970 clothing (orange shirt, brown vest, bell-bottoms…you get my drift). She had one of those gravelly stick-to-your-ears kind of voices and she sounded, like, really cool.
I never did understand why the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles was considered so hip and cool in the 1960-70s. But it was pretty and the houses were expensive, so I guess there must have been some groovy singer-songwriter trippy-dippy parties back in the day.
A bit later in my life, Laurel Canyon was just the long and winding road that I drove to get to the San Fernando Valley and back.
But I digress….
The woman on the album cover was Sharon Lee Myers…AKA Jackie DeShannon.
Later that same year…1969…she would release the smash hit single and LP record of the same name, “Put A Little Love in Your Heart.”
Well, Flower Power and all that, but I just loved that song (words and music by DeShannon) with its rockin’ intro and crescendo ending. And lllluvvvv, man…very cool. I wore that 45 out bigtime.
And it’s still a great song…just as pertinent today as it was in 1969.
Jackie DeShannon only had one other Top 10 hit — “What the World Needs Now” (Bacharach and David) in 1965.
So what has she been doing all these years?
Despite her great singing voice, DeShannon is more well-known as a very successful songwriter. In fact, she has been writing and co-writing songs since 1960.
Her songs have been recorded by such various artists as Brenda Lee, the Fleetwoods, the Byrds, Marianne Faithful, Tracey Ullman, Annie Lennox, Al Green, Dolly Parton, Pam Tillis, ex-ABBA singer Agnetha Fältskog and Chris Hillman.
In 1981, the song “Bette Davis Eyes” was a number 1 hit for Kim Carnes.
She has co-written songs with such folks as Jimmy Page and Randy Newman. And her songs have been featured on the soundtracks for such movies as “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “In Country,” “Forrest Gump,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “RV.”
Despite the Hippie-Dippy connection, DeShannon was born in Hazel, Kentucky and raised in a small town in Illinois. She grew up singing country-western songs.
Her very early recordings caught the attention of rock ‘n’ roller Eddie Cochran and she wound up moving to California. Her Big Break came in February 1964 when she toured the U.S. with some new group called the Beatles.
On June 17, 2010, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
DeShannon is now 66 years old and has been married to singer/songwriter Randy Edelman since 1977. They have one son, Noah.
©April 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver