Song: Let Me Go, Lover (a-side) (b-side is Marionette)
Label: Columbia 4-40366
Number: ZSP 34068
Songwriters: Al Hill - Jenny Lou Carson
Today's post is one I've been meaning to upload for a long time, but it's such a sad story when you know what happened behind the scenes, that I found it hard. Joan Weber was only 18 years old when she recorded this song and it was to be her only hit. Poor Joan didn't even get any part of her 15 minutes of fame.
She was born on December 12th, 1935, in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and she was just 18 when manager Eddie Joy escorted her to New York City's legendary Brill Building to audition for RCA Records. Only a few months before this, she had been happily singing weekend dates with her husband's dance band in and around her home town of Paulsboro (pop. 7,842). After recording a demo of the song Marionette, it somehow found the ear of Columbia Records A&R man Mitch Miller, who quickly signed her to a contract. Although Joan and her bandleader husband were due to give birth to their first child in late 1954, Miller nevertheless ushered her into the studio to record Let Me Go, Lover, a rewrite of Jenny Lou Carson and Al Hill's anti-alcohol screed Let Me Go, Demon. On November 15th, 1954, a visibly pregnant Weber performed the song on the television showcase Studio One, and it emerged as an overnight hit. A prescient Miller made sure Let Me Go, Lover was stocked in record stores across the U.S. prior to Weber's TV appearance, and the disc sold over 100,000 copies in it's first week of release. It eventually found it's way to the top of the Billboard pop chart in January 1955, where it spent 4 weeks at the number one spot. Here's where the story takes a horrible twist.
The birth of their daughter Terry Lynn nevertheless forced Weber onto the sidelines just as the single peaked and her fame was at it's highest apex and here she was, unable to promote her career through public appearances. Consequently, the song was the only recording of hers to chart, and she was dropped from Columbia's roster soon after. She released only a handful of follow-up efforts before abandoning her music career altogether. From that point on in her life, I couldn't locate any facts about her life, except one. Joan Weber died on May 13th, 1981, of heart failure while confined to an Ancora, New Jersey mental institution - she was just 45 years old. What a sad ending for a woman whose career had such a brilliant beginning. One can only assume that depression set in soon after the events surrounding Let Me Go, Lover unfolded and it led to her confinement in a mental home.
In spite of all that, please download and listen to this song. She has an impassioned style of delivery that really makes me believe she wants the man in the song to release her:
"Oh, let me go, let me go, let me go, lover,
Let me be, set me free from your spell."
Let Me Go, Lover was an immensely popular song and inspired many cover versions by such artists as Patti Page, Teresa Brewer, Peggy Lee and Sunny Gale. It was such a huge hit in early 1955, that Lucille Ball even did a few bars of it on her television program I Love Lucy, on March 18th. But, this is the original version, and as far as I'm concerned, the best. With all the tragedy that surrounded the singer's life and this particular song, how could you not want to hear her plaintive cry for release as Joan Weber pleads Let Me Go, Lover? Listen to this song and then remember a sad, young lady whose fate it was to leave the world too soon.