Brooklynite Bessie White met her husband, Larry Banks, when she performed with his group The Four Fellows on their single “You’re Still In My Heart” in 1957; by the time he wrote “Go Now” to launch her solo career, they had separated. It’s not hard to see, then, that she would have found something resonant in its lyrics, a reluctant admission that a relationship has run its course.

Unusually for soul music, which ordinarily favours the infectious beat of straightforward 4/4, “Go Now” is a slow waltz, giving it a seductive sway that is underscored by the dramatic piano of Larry Banks. Gary Sherman’s stately horns trail behind the vocal like a funeral cortege, sombre and sensitive at the same time, complemented by soulful backing vocals from Dee Dee Warwick (Dionne’s sister) and Cissy Houston (Whitney’s mother) of the Sweet Inspirations. The recording session was held in the immediate aftermath of the Kennedy assassination, and emotions were running high; Bessie’s voice is level but emotive, boiling over into anguish as she frantically reiterates the phrase “begging you to stay”.

The song found widespread fame later that same year thanks to a blue-eyed cover by Britain’s Moody Blues, who had picked it out from a pile of imported singles given to them by their record company. As a showcase for the song (and for Denny Laine’s impressive white-soul voice) it was an unqualified success, but the uptempo arrangement pales against the quiet majesty of the Banks original. As a follow-up, Larry Banks and Milton Bennett composed a new song, “Showdown”, specifically for them, but – perhaps foolishly – the Moodies turned it down.

<< Influenced by: Drown In My Own Tears, Ray Charles (1955)

>> Influence on: Showdown, Kenny Carter (1966)

|| Covered by: The Moody Blues (1964)

This piece is an omitted entry from the book 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die (Cassell) – consider it song no. 1004.

Go Now | Bessie Banks (1964)

Writer: Larry Banks & Milton Bennett
Producer: Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller
Label: Tiger
Album: n/a

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it