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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Rainbows - "Mary Lee" (sound file, lyrics, & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents two sound files of & lyrics for the 1955 Doo-Wop song "Mary Lee" by the Rainbows. Information about Doo-Wop (Do-wop) music and information about The Rainbows are also included in this post along with selected comments from those YouTube sound files' comment threads.

The content of this post is provided for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composer/s of this song and thanks to The Rainbows for recording this song. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post, and thanks to the publishers of this sound file on YouTube.

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INFORMATION ABOUT DOO-WOP MUSIC
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doo-wop
"Doo-wop (sometimes doo-wopp)[1] is a style of vocal-based rhythm and blues music developed in African American communities in the 1940s, achieving mainstream popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. It emerged from New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Newark, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and areas of greater Los Angeles, including El Monte and Compton. Built upon vocal harmony, doo-wop was one of the most mainstream, pop-oriented R&B styles of the time… The term "doo-wop" is credited to have first appeared in print in 1961 in the Chicago Defender, when fans of the music coined the term during the height of a vocal harmony resurgence.[3] The phrase was attributed to radio disc jockey Gus Gossert but Gossert suggested "doo-wop(p) was already in use [before me] to categorize the music in California."[4]

...There is general acknowledgement the first hit record to use the syllables "doo-wop" in the refrain was the 1955 hit, "When You Dance" by The Turbans (Herald Records H-458).[5] Previously, the scat backing vocal "doo-wop" is heard in The Clovers' 1953 release "Good Lovin'" (Atlantic Records 1000) and in the chorus of Carlyle Dundee & The Dundees' 1954 song "Never" (Space Records 201). Other early uses include the 1955 song "Mary Lee" by The Rainbows on Red Robin Records (also a Washington, DC regional hit on Pilgrim 703), which contains the background "do wop de wadda"; and the 1956 smash "In the Still of the Night" by The Five Satins, which features a plaintive "doo-wop, doo-wah" refrain in the bridge. After some time, the term "doo-wop" finally caught on as both a description and category for R&B vocal group harmony. The definition expanded backward to include rhythm and blues groups from the mid-1950s, then cascaded even further back to include groups from the 1940s"...

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INFORMATION ABOUT THE RAINBOWS
From http://www.uncamarvy.com/Rainbows/rainbows.html "The Rainbows" By Marvin Podd and Marv Goldberg
"The Rainbows were a fixture of the Washington, D.C. music scene for many years. In their heyday (which lasted only a little more than a year), they managed to turn out several collector favorites.

Let's start our story by going back to 1951 and the Serenaders, a quintet from the Lincoln Heights area of Northeast Washington D.C. The group consisted of Henry "Lamont" Mont (lead), Henry "Shorty" Womble (first tenor), Robert Neil (second tenor and lead), Leroy Henderson (baritone), and Frank "Jake" Hardy (bass). All of them were in the 15-16 age range...

[When that group broke up, some members of that group recorded songs which were released under the Rainbows.]*

In 1954, the Rainbows decided to try their luck in New York. Venturing up to Harlem, they found Bobby's Record Shop at 125th Street and 8th Avenue, just down the block from the Apollo Theater. Its owner, Bobby Robinson, also owned Red Robin Records. (Since Leroy Henderson's Topps were recording for Red Robin at the time, it's a bet that Henderson was the one who recommended that the Rainbows audition for Robinson.) Robinson politely listened to the Rainbows and then turned them down flat!

But the Rainbows didn't give up. They returned to D.C. to practice, and about a year later, they went back to Robinson. When they sang their own arrangement of "Honey Hush" and an original composition called "Evening," Bobby Robinson's opinion changed and he offered to record them.

While preparations for the recording were taking place, the group fooled around with another original composition, entitled "Mary Lee," a song composed, as a joke, about Marion Lee, someone's girlfriend and the only female permitted to come to rehearsals. Robinson was so impressed that he had them record that, and "Honey Hush" was never released.

... "Mary Lee" features interchanging lead singers. Ronald Miles starts the vocalizing with that now famous "Mary Lee" refrain and he does all subsequent refrains while John Berry sings the main lyric. Henry Womble gets in the last word as he puts the falsetto lid on the song. Amazingly, it was done in one take. The flip, "Evening," is led by John Berry. The tunes were issued on Red Robin in June 1955.

Ronald recalled that "Mary Lee" was very popular when it was released, making the top 10 in the New York and Washington, D.C. markets."...
-snip-
The words given in brackets are my summarization of a longer section of this article.

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LYRICS: MARY LEE
(recorded by The Rainbows, composer/s ?)

Lead - Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead - Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead - Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead -Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead -Well, my Mary Lee
Group - Do wop de wadda
Oh, I love you so
Group- Do wop de wadda
My Mary Lee
Group- Do wop de wadda
I want you to know
Group- Do wop de wadda, oh
My dear
Group- Do wop de wadda
That I love you so
Group- Do wop de wadda
Please come back to me
Group- Do wop de wadda
I want you, my love
Group- Do wop de wadda, oh
Wish you were here
Group- Do wop de wadda
I need you so much
Group- Do wop de wadda
My dear
Group - Do wop de wadda
My Mary Lee
Group - Do wop de wadda, oh
Lead -Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead - Mary Lee
Group- Mary Lee
Lead- Oh, my Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead -Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead and Group -Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
[Lead continues singing this vocalization while the group sings]
Do wop de wadda
Do wop de wadda
Do wop de wadda
Do wop de wadda, oh

Do wop de wadda
Do wop de wadda
Do wop de wadda
Do wop de wadda, oh

Lead - Oh my Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead - Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead - Oh, my Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead -Mary Lee
Group- Mary Lee
Lead - Oh my Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead - Mary Lee
Group- Mary Lee
Lead- Oh, my Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Lead - Mary Lee
Group - Mary Lee
Please come back to me
Group [vocalizes “ah” after every line the lead sings]
Lead -I want you so much
Wish you were here
I need you so much
My dear
[Group sings the “do wah she wah dee wah dee” vocalization pattern after each line]
Oh darling
I wish you were near me

Oh, please come back to me
I want you so much
Wish you were here
I need you so much
Group –Mary Lee
Lead – Mary Lee.
-snip-
Transcribed by Azizi Powell. Additions and corrections are welcome. I'm not sure about the words that are given in italics.

I originally wrote the vocalization as "Do wah she wah dee wah dee" [3x] and then "Do wah she wah dee wah dee, oh". However, I changed it to conform with the way that vocalization is written in the Wikipedia article.

Note: http://www.songlyrics.com/rainbows/mary-lee-lyrics/ provides lyrics to a song that is identified as "Mary Lee" by the Rainbows. However, that song is actually an old English ballad [?] that begins with the words
“Twas on a cold winter’s night
When the wind blew across the wild moor
That Mary came wand’ring along with her child
Till she came to her own father’s door"

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SHOWCASE EXAMPLES
[Both of these sound files are of the same record.]

Example #1: the rainbows mary lee



genevincent1967, Uploaded on Dec 27, 2010
-snip-
Selected comment from Marie Springs, 2011 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4bA5SInk1o
"I went to school with this group N E Washington D C John Berry the leader of the Rainbows was dating my girlfrien Mary Lee Nelson. I also was in the same music class with the late Bully Stewart and also the Clovers from Washington, D C and the Spaniels. I am now 73 ys young
-snip-
Bully Stewart" is a typo for [R&B recording artist & R&B/Gospel pianist] Billy Stewart

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Example #2: Rainbows - Mary Lee ]1955]



dowopper51, Uploaded on Aug 20, 2008

AHH, I married this record 46 years ago!
-snip-
What “I married this record” means: People want to marry the person they fall in love with. So a person writing this means that he or she loves this record a lot.
-snip-
Selected comments from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G_r0leVIZc
dowopper51, 2008 [written in response to a commenter writing that this is a fun song]
"It is fun and was fun! I clearly remember running to the Record Store, buying a record for 69 cents coming home & just play the same record over & over until I learned all the words. Then, I'd stand in front of the mirror, a pencil was my MIC and I would sing away. I always thought I was better than the record until one day I recorded myself then I suddenly toned it down so know one would hear me. Great music, they are fun my friend! BTW, thank you for your comment!"

**
57Will4, 2008
"Marvin Gaye was indeed a member of this group, but I don't know if he was singing on this session. Billy Stewart & Don Covay also came out of this group, from my understanding."

**
Alex Batey, 2009o
in reply to 57Will
"@57Will Gaye,Covay and Stewart were not on this record. The Rainbows didn't make a lot of records but did a lot of club dates and as far as I know are still active."

**
Michael D, 2011
"The Rainbows were formed by a group in high school in Washington, D.C. They sang at local talent shows, parties and "cabarets". Some people who came out of the group were Jessie Belvin, Billy Stewart and Marvin Gaye. This was the first up tempo Doo Wop Rythum and Blues. They would pack auditoriums and I was there."
-snip-
“cabarets” –dance events that were larger and more formal than parties.

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