Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun) – Challenge #179

‘Keep Searchin’’ was written and recorded by American rock-and-roll musician Del Shannon.  This song was released in 1964.  It spent 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (one more than his biggest hit ‘Runaway’) it reached #9, but it would be Shannon’s last big hit single, as Del would go on to chart only four more songs before his untimely death in 1990.  This song is about a man who tries to find a place to hide along with his girlfriend because they are being pursued.  His girl was being harassed by some unknown people who were cruel to her for some unknown reason.  There is no happy ending in this song, as they remained paranoid and kept on searching for that place where nobody would bother or persecute them.  The song includes a keyboard solo and it ends with Del Shannon’s trademark falsetto.  It was recorded on the One Thousand Six-Hundred Sixty-One Seconds of Del Shannon album.  In 2008, Del’s song ‘Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun)’ was voted in as one of Michigan’s Legendary Songs.

Charles Weedon Westover (December 30, 1934 – February 8, 1990), better known by his stage name Del Shannon, was an American rock and roll country musician, singer and songwriter, was best known for his 1961 #1 Billboard hit ‘Runaway’.  Chuck Westover started writing songs in High school and he played guitar singing falsetto by emulating Bill Kenny and the Ink Spots at pep rallies and talent shows.  Chuck believed in Rock and Roll and he sang and played for anyone who would listen.  While living in Battle Creek, he played rhythm guitar for a small group at the Hi-Lo Club at night calling himself Charlie Johnson and he named his group the Big Little Show Band.  1959 was a very important year as that is when Westover met Max Crook, and asked him to join his band as a keyboard player and the two of them were to create their unique sound.

In 1959, Max Crook invented the Musitron, a primitive form of synthesizer, which was built from a Clavioline, to which he had previously improved and added television tubes, and parts of household appliances, an old amplifier, and a reel-to-reel tape machine.  Westover and Crook were discovered by Talent Artists in Detroit and they were signed to New York’s Big Top label in July 1960.  Westover was asked to change his name to something more dynamic, so he coupled a contraction for the Coupe de Ville to the name of a wrestler named Mark Shannon.  The newly minted “Del Shannon” would always be only his stage name, however his legal name would remain the same.  Max Crook took the name Maximilian, a clever king-like name that sounded authoritative.

He was voted England’s top vocalist in 1962 and 1963.  Del Shannon wrote the hit song ‘I Go To Pieces’ for Peter & Gordon in 1965.  After the sixties closed, Del was largely absent from the pop charts, but he continued to record and he also worked as a producer.  Del Shannon was one of the few artists to bridge the gap between the early days of rock and roll and the newer styles ushered in by the Beatles and the British Invasion. In fact, Shannon has the distinction of being the first artist to chart in the United States with a Beatles’ song after convincing John Lennon to let him record ‘From Me To You’.

The Beatles were the opening act for Del in 1963, but within just six months the Beatles would start a new music revolution in America.  Del decided to start his own label, BerLee Records, named for his parents.  1964 saw Shannon change over to Amy Records where he hooked up with The Royaltones, who became his backing band.  On ‘Keep Searchin’, Shannon played rhythm guitar while Dennis Coffey played lead guitar, Bill Knight played second guitar, Bob Kreiner played bass, Marcus Terry played drums, and George Katsakis played piano and organ.  The Popoff brothers, Greg and Mike, played alto and tenor saxophone.

Del Shannon stood out as an all-too-rare example of an American pop star whose work reflected real originality. His heyday as a chart-friendly star in the United States may have been brief, but on the strength of his biggest hit alone he deserves to be regarded as one of rock and roll’s greatest.  ‘Hats Off To Larry’ and ‘Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun)” were Shannon’s only other top-10 hits in the United States after ‘Runaway’, but he enjoyed a much bigger career in the UK, where he placed five more songs in the top 10 over the next two years. Like most stars of his generation, Shannon was primarily regarded as an Oldies act through the ’70s and ’80s, but he was in the midst of a concerted comeback effort in early 1990, with a Jeff Lynne-produced album of original material already completed and rumors swirling of his taking the late Roy Orbison’s place in The Traveling Wilburys.

In 1981, Del Shannon returned to the Hot 100 for the first time in over 15 years with his cover of ‘Sea Of Love’.  The song was produced by long-time Shannon fan Tom Petty, and it was taken from the album Drop Down and Get Me that featured Petty and his band The Heartbreakers.  Following Roy Orbison’s death from a heart attack in 1988, Del was rumored to be his possible replacement in the Traveling Wilburys.  Both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne had gone back into the studio with Shannon in 1989 and he had recorded ten new songs for an album.

This only added to the shock experienced by many when Shannon shot himself in his Santa Clarita, California, home on February 8, 1990. Shannon’s widow would later file a high-profile lawsuit against Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of the antidepressant Prozac, which Shannon had begun taking shortly before his suicide.  That suit was eventually dropped, but the case brought early attention to the still-unresolved question of the possible connection between suicidal ideation and SSRIs, the class of drugs to which Prozac belongs.

Del was thought of as a rebel in his very conservative hometown and a bit of a troublemaker at Coopersville High.  Not your average teen idol.  He had the commercial success and good looks of a teen pop star, but Del Shannon was so much more.  He wrote, played guitar on and sang his own songs, often in a minor key that predicted the trends of the British Invasion.  Del Shannon was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2005 and after being eligible for over a decade, he made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.  Del Shannon played his last concert on Feb. 3, 1990, at a tribute concert in Fargo, North Dakota, for the 31th anniversary of the plane crash that killed legends, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper.  On February 8, 1990, Del Shannon was found dead of suicide.

 

No one will understand what I’ve gotta do
I’ve gotta find a place to hide with my baby by my side
She’s been hurt so much, they treat her mean and cruel
They try to keep us far apart, there’s only one thing left we can do

We gotta keep searchin’, searchin’, find a place to hide
Searchin’, searchin’, she’ll be by my side
If we gotta keep on the run, we’ll follow the sun-ah, wee-ooh
Follow the sun-ah, wee-ooh

Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter what people might say
She’s mine and I’m gonna take her anyway

Gotta keep searchin’, searchin’, find a place to stay
Searchin’, searchin’, every night and day
If we gotta keep on the run, we’ll follow the sun-ah, wee-ooh
Follow the sun-ah, wee-ooh

We gotta keep searchin’, searchin’, find a place to hide
Searchin’, searchin’, she’ll be by my side
If we gotta keep on the run we’ll follow the sun-ah, wee-ooh
Follow the sun-ah, wee-ooh
Follow the sun-ah, wee-ooh, follow the sun-ah

 

The challenge today is to focus on this song and use it for a short story, a piece of flash fiction, or a poem that you can share with the WordPress writing community.  There is no need to stick with this song, as if you like to write about another Del Shannon song, then go with that.  You could also go with a song about searching, looking, or seeking something, or any song from the early 1960s era.  Maybe you could write a post about finding a place to hide, or someone who was treated mean and cruel.  If you would like to write about what you think it means to follow the sun, that would make an interesting post.  You probably want to keep moving around to stay in warm, sunny climates, avoiding winter, like they did in that early surfing movie The Endless Summer where they traveled around the world looking for the best waves.  Or if you would like to explain that phrase to “Go West young man”, and you would ride into the sunset.  If it was night time, I guess you would be following the moon.

The whole point of this MM Music challenge is to get you to think, to trigger something so that you can show how creative you are and everyone is welcome to participate.  This challenge is very loose, so pretty much whatever you come up with will be acceptable.  I try to throw some ideas out there for you and if they seem right, then go with it.  You could write about your life as a sculptor, or when you made potions in a traveling show.  It would also be good if you could write about a song that mentions being on the run.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie brings you a dose of fetish, good friends and an incomparable muse and next Friday Dylan Hughes will be here on April 9 with her First Line Friday and she will provide the first line for your post and then you get to write whatever comes afterward, with the length, genre, and structure being completely left up to you.  I will be back on Friday, April 16 with another MM Music Challenge where we will discuss the song ‘Make It With You’.  When you are finished writing your post, create a ping back to this post, but you can also place your link in the comments section below if you desire.  This Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Music challenge has a special feature called Mr. Linky, which will allow you to instantly link your post after you click the Mr. Linky Button, and permit everyone to read your post sooner that way, and then follow the directions that are given.  When you click the Mister Linky widget, another screen will pop up that will look like this screenshot below, with two empty boxes, one for your name and the other containing the web address where your post can be found, both ready for you to fill in.  You must check the box below, for your post to go through.

5 comments

  1. Reblogged this on A Unique Title For Me and commented:

    Del Shannon’s bit hit ‘Runaway’ is about a guy whose girl leaves him, and he is left to wonder what went wrong. A lot of Shannon’s songs were about broken relationships. He once said he wrote the words to this about himself, because he was forever running away from relationships. ‘Runaway’ is #472 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, compiled in 2010. ‘Runaway’ was so different that it didn’t resemble anything else that had been done in music before. In 1966, Del Shannon virtually vanished, the result of changing musical tastes, battles with his managers over royalty payments, and struggles with his own inner demons. Lacking direction, the 1970s became a rudderless blur. Now entering his 40s, he sported snug-fitting bell-bottoms, bushy muttonchops, and an unconvincing comb-over. Although he always hated traveling, he toured England, Australia, and the Philippines, countries where he enjoyed a more loyal following than at home. Just a few years removed from being lauded as an original, he was on his way to becoming a rock ’n’ roll cliché, aging, dissipated, and irrelevant. He smoked weed, snorted cocaine, and popped pills while retaining his old-school vices of tobacco and alcohol. He often was drunk before noon. “I hated the taste of booze,” he once told the Los Angeles Times, “but I liked where it took me — into oblivion.”

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