Crate Digger: GENE PITNEY The Bosses Daughter
Gene Pitney The Bosses Daughter (Columbia) 1966
‘I’ve been working here, in this dirty factory, since the day my poor daddy died’.
It’s a familiar tale, the poor trapped hard-working man, led astray by the money, privilege, and implied long legs and devilish ways of the rich bitch daughter of his employer. ‘I’m a puppet and she holds the strings..’ is his lament, she has stripped him of any autonomy, no free will. He is now merely a vessel for her desires.
It’s a common songwriting fantasy, One that the writer S. Colborn, of whom I know exactly nothing, employed here to great effect. Women are either sainted Madonnas in all their glory or devilish whores to lead men astray with a look or a flash of leg. Men in the mid-nineteen Sixties obviously never stood a chance.
Now in 1966 Gene Pitney had already reached the peak of his career and he was on the cold northern downwards slope of that particular mountain when ‘The Bosses Daughter’ was released. ‘24 hours from Tulsa’ and ‘Town Without Pity’ were behind him and a future of sparse chart success lay ahead. ‘24 hours from Tulsa’ was one of my earliest musical memories, hearing it whilst lying on a sofa as a seven-year-old struck down with pleurisy. Pitney had such a powerful voice perfect for that manly emoting needed for that particular lyric. It was not his fault he fell for the cafe girl, honestly.
If, like me, you tend to view most things, including the songwriting of the nineteen Sixties, through a social history lens, then the choice of material for an artist like Pitney is fertile ground. He was marketed as a pretty wholesome mainstream pop star yet his hits were full of heartbreak and broken hearts. He wasn’t dangerous in any way. None of the circumstances for the heartbreak or the broken hearts in his songs were ever of his making and never his fault. The main character was always the victim. If this narrative was present in a mainstream pop song, laced through his entire catalogue, it was everywhere. If you ever wanted a view of the male opinion of the women’s place in the 1960s here it is, in plain sight.
As for the song itself, Pitney’s versatility is on full show here. The country chug of the guitar and the staccato delivery of the lyrics matching the attack of the strings all add menace to the song. The Producer getting Pitney to harmonize with himself in parts as if the main character has
split his personality to tell his tale. It’s well worth a listen, but not well known in reality unless you are a lover of the popcorn scene.
Overall it makes you wonder if he would ever take responsibility for his actions. Maybe our sympathies should be with Impatian, the devilish Bosses Daughter after all?
GENE PITNEY The Bosses Daughter
Album photo via Discogs // Artist photo via Britannica
Written By – S. Colburn
Arranged By – Artie Butler, Garry Sherman
Engineer – Brooks Arthur
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