Mary Wells' Hiccups

Mary Wells

The Saturday Wall Street Journal kind of lets its weekend hair down, with the back sections having all sorts of interesting, oddball articles. This was an above-average Saturday. One of the goodies was a review from David Kirby of of Peter Benjaminson's new biography of Mary Wells, 60's Motown superstar.

Ms. Wells unfortunately lived the superstar cliché: early fame and riches turned into an early burnout due to poor financial and personal choices. As Kirby notes, she "never ran into a man or a narcotic (or a highball or a cigarette) she didn't like." She passed away in 1992 at the age of 49.

Her biggest hit was "My Guy" in 1964, written and produced by Smokey Robinson. I smile whenever I hear its quirky cowboy-movie riff. But there's another cute story behind the song:

But despite the schoolgirl innocence of "My Guy," Wells knew how to slather a bouncy pop tune with sex appeal. In one of those juicy little moments that makes the book get up off the night stand and start dancing, Mr. Benjaminson relates how Wells was clowning around in the studio when she made a stuttering sound toward the end of a take of "My Guy." The producers told her to do it again, and Wells said she was just kidding, that she was imitating Mae West trying to entice a lover upstairs. But those come-hither hiccups made it into the final version. Listen to "My Guy" (which you can do easily on YouTube) and you'll think "Gee, that's kind of sexy." Now you know why.

And if by magic, just a few hours later, up comes "My Guy" on my iPod, out of a couple thousand songs. So, just out of obligation, I waited for the hiccups and thought "Gee, that's kind of sexy."

If you don't have a magical iPod yourself, I'll make it even easier for you to listen on YouTube:

Can't help but wonder: what will the Wall Street Journal command my iPod to do next week?