Tuesday, August 2, 2016
SHG: Ricky Nelson: "A Teenager's Romance"
Ricky Nelson: “A Teenager’s Romance”
Entered the chart on: 5/27/1957
Peaked on: 6/10/1957
Weeks at #2: 1 week
Song at #1: “Love Letters in the Sand” by Pat Boone
Oh dear, we’re back to the teenage exploitation records, aren’t we? Well, sort of. Ricky Nelson tried so hard for rock & roll credibility but it really eluded him until the 70s and his country-rock years with the Stone Canyon Band. Back in the 50s? Yes, he was fighting an uphill battle. In the popular consciousness, he was a radio/TV star using his parents’ Hollywood clout to kick-start a music career. Imperial Records surely just saw him as a cute, non-threatening fresh face that appealed to young girls. He could cover Fats Domino tunes until he was blue in the face, yet it would be stuff like this that the average Joe would wind up mentally associating him with for years.
OK, lyrically this is the same song as “Teen Age Crush.” The exact same. “They tell us we’re too young to know what true love is, blah blah blah.” That said, this is better on every level. I really like the male backing vocals that form the backbone of this tune, and are way up-front right at the start. Oh, that bass singer! I think I’m in love! The sax solo is another nice touch here.
And say what you will about Ricky, he did have a good singing voice. The melody doesn’t overly tax him, and you get the feeling he’d rather be singing “I’m Walkin’” (the flip side of this very single) but his voice is not without expression and pitch control. He does service to the song and proves he’s not just another pretty face.
That said, you can arrange the song as nicely as you please and it won’t cover up the fact that it’s rather lacking in substance. The lyrics, as I’ve already implied, are beyond vapid, and the song itself isn’t anything vastly special, either. I get the feeling that this is fairly typical of Ricky’s less-remembered hits these days: competently-made fluff.
I’d still rather listen to this than Pat Boone any day of the week.