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Rolling Stones unreleased: For Your Precious Love
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Written by: Jerry Butler
Recorded: AIR Studios, Montserrat, West Indies, March 29-Apr. 1989
From Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012:
A Jerry Butler song which was an original Top 20 USA hit for him and Curtis Mayfield’s band, The Impressions, in 1958. Other lesser known acts who covered the song and attained USA chart positions were Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters and Oscar Toney Junior. The Stones took the opportunity to record it during the sessions and apparently it was one of the 15 releasable tracks.
“For Your Precious Love” is a song written by Arthur Brooks, Richard Brooks and Jerry Butler, and performed by Jerry Butler and The Impressions in 1958. The song was ranked #335 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2010.
It was released as a single on Vee-Jay Records and peaked at number 3 on the Most Played R&B chart, and number 11 on the Billboard Top 100 charts. In addition, a new version by Butler himself, who peaked at number 99 on the Hot 100 chart in March 1966.
From The Washington Post:
It’s a gorgeous testimonial that has stood the test of time since Jerry Butler and the Impressions recorded it in 1958. Part of the song’s enduring charm is its lyrical innocence — “Your precious love means more to me / Than any love could ever be / For when I wanted you / I was so lonely and blue / For that’s what love will do” — and there’s a good reason for that. Those lyrics were drawn verbatim from a poem Butler had written in high school, which he was not far removed from when he recorded “For Your Precious Love” at age 18.
“It was called ‘They Say,’ and if you follow the lyrics of the song, you’ll see that it doesn’t have a hook and the title is never repeated. It’s all verse — it’s a poem set to music,” says Butler, who will be bringing his romantic ballads to Blues Alley over the Valentine’s weekend for the 25th year in a row.
What’s now tradition was originally a bit of a risk, Butler says.
“We went in the first time as ‘Let’s see what happens if we go into a room that’s basically a jazz-oriented room and see what plays in that room.’ Then we thought about the right time to do it, and someone suggested Valentine’s, love songs and all that. But we weren’t really sure that the audience created at the Howard Theater back in the days, or at Constitution Hall, would follow me to Georgetown.
“Now people come from as far north as Boston and as far south as North Carolina just to hang out for Valentine’s. And guys have actually proposed in the middle of the show. Last year, a guy took my microphone from me and asked his girl to marry him right on my stage!”
Back in 1958, Butler and his fellow Impressions — including teen prodigy Curtis Mayfield — were just another aspiring doo-wop group, trying to capture the ears of just one of Chicago’s small R&B operations, and apparently didn’t realize they had a potential hit on their hands. According to Butler, “we went to a guy here in town who had a label and were talking to him about getting a recording contract, and I was reciting [the words to ‘They Say’] at that time. And he suggested to us, ‘Son, those lyrics are so beautiful, you ought to learn how to sing that!’ “
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