A Lover’s Question

One of the wonderful things about the music of the late 1950s is the way that it can blend the genres and cultures we’re used to. Elvis’s debt to black music is the most-often-given example, but there’s also Buddy Holly, who famously was thought to “sound black.”

To me, though, the best example of this mixing of genres is one of the very finest songs of the decade, “A Lover’s Question,” written by the great Brook Benton and sung by the equally great Clyde McPhatter:

What is this song? It’s mostly R&B, it’s almost doo-wop, and there are strong elements of country music in it — indeed, with some relatively minor changes in arrangement it could’e been sung by Hank Snow or Ferlin Husky. For people like me who grew up in the deep South, this kind of cultural mixing is deeply meaningful and endlessly fascinating, and our Bible is David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed, especially the fourth part.

But hey, even if you don’t care about any of that, “A Lover’s Question” is indubitably a great, great song. You’ll give it a listen if you know what’s good for you.