Need Your Love So Bad - Little Willie John


Much is said about "phrasing" and "timing" in singing, especially in soul music, where Otis was king and Aretha queen. But to understand how important this is, just listen to the early master of these skills: Little Willie John.

"Need Your Love So Bad" is most famous now in the version recorded in 1968 by Peter Green's great original line-up of Fleetwood Mac which is no mean record. But this is the even better 1955 original, eclipsed over time like so many fifties blues and soul releases by a white cover. (One of the most obvious examsples of this was Peggy Lee's million selling version of John's own "Fever".)

Wille was illiterate and this might be why his phrasing and emphasis is so good, as his words never went through the medium of paper before he sang them - they were always there in his head, just as he (and in this case his co-composer brother) first heard them or made them up.

John's singing is so natural and yet exquisite, an instrument at one with the sensual backing guitars and piano.

"So won't you give it up, and bring it home to me

or write it on a paper so it can be read to me

tell me you love me

stop driving me mad

cause I need your love so bad."

And boy does it have that desolate, end of the evening feeling, ashtrays full of dead cigarette stubs:

"when the lights are low, and it's time to go

I need your love so bad".