For this month’s version of The Original vs. The Cover, we have a triple bill of the song “Last Kiss”. We have the original which was written and performed by Wayne Cochran down at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA back in 1961. The 45’s were printed in Vidalia, GA…you know the town that gives you Vidalia Onions. I’ve been to that town, there isn’t a whole lot there but Onions, but that is another story. The first cover is by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers which was released in June 1964 and went to #2 on the Billboard Charts. The final version we will discuss is the one by Pearl Jam which was released on June 8, 1999 and reached #2 on the Billboard Charts as well. Three great versions. Yes, I know there are a bunch of covers of this song, but I settled on these three versions.
The song is said to be written by Wayne Cochran as well as Joe Carpenter, Randall Hoyal and Bobby McGlon but the later three were never officially credited on any of the releases. All four performed on the song. Speaking of the song, this is a song about a tragic car crash which seemed to be a big thing to do back in the day. Instead of trying to recap the story in my words, let me post what wikipedia says…
“The narrator borrows his father’s car to take his girlfriend out on a date, and comes upon a stalled car in the road. Unable to stop, the narrator swerves to the right to avoid it, losing control and crashing violently in the process, knocking him and his girlfriend unconscious. The narrator later regains consciousness in the midst of a rainstorm, and finds several people at the scene of the accident. While partially blinded by the blood flowing from his injuries, the narrator is able to find his girlfriend, still lying unconscious. When he cradles his girlfriend lovingly in his arms, she regains partial consciousness, smiling and asking the narrator to “hold me, darling, for a little while.” The narrator then gives her the titular “last kiss” as she fades into death and enters the afterlife.“
The song has been said to be a true story of Jeanette Clark and J.L. Hancock, who were both 16 years old when their car hit a tractor-trailer on a road in rural Barnesville, Georgia Here’s the thing. That accident occurred in 1962 and the song was written and recorded in 1961 so kind of hard to believe that theory. Okay, enough of that, let’s get to the song.