Battle of the Bands

#BOTB: Last Kiss

Hello, kittens & dawgs! Music is what makes my heart beat, but then you already know this with two weekly posts dedicated to tunes. That being said, I’m happy to announce my first-time participation in the BATTLE OF THE BANDS (BOTB) fun.  Let the battle begin!

According to Wikipedia,  James Lafayette Tarver’s inspiration to write Last Kiss came after his daughter Carol Ann died in a train/car collision in Grand Prairie, Texas on June 25, 1961.  Later in ’61 Wayne Cochran recorded the song, but it didn’t do well on the charts.

Last Kiss got noticed by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers record promoter, Sonley Roush. He wanted the band to do it as a cover. Ironically, on a concert trip to Ohio, the band’s car collided with a truck, killing Roush and severely injuring Wilson. Last Kiss released in June 1964 as a cover album, by October it made it to the Top 10 and eventually ranking #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 list earning the group a gold record.

I was born the year Cochran released the original, but honestly, I’m not sure if I remember the 60s or the 70s version re-released by the Canadian band Wednesday (a.k.a. Wenzday) in 1974. The remake of Last Kiss spent 5-weeks on the U.S. Billboards Hot 100 chart, peaking at #34 and the single reached #2 in Canada.

Oldies never die they just get a do-over, right? That’s precisely what happened in 1999. Honestly, I don’t even remember it coming out, but it did by Pearl Jam in 1999. It did better than the bands’ predecessor reaching the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #2. This rendition did not impress me. What do you think?

Although, I can’t recall with certainty which artist I listened to the most as a kid. However, if I had to guess I think it was J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers and I side by this decision as the best version of Last Kiss.

Okay, here’s what you do to vote. In my comments section, tell me which band you like the best and why. After you’re done, then why not see what other BOTB participants (see below) are sharing.

Far Away Series

Tossing It Out

Your Daily Dose


A Writer’s Life in Progress

Creative Outlet of Stratplayer

Mike’s Ramblings



Create and Craft

I born and raised in the Appalachian mountains of southern WV. I was a child bride when I married my high school sweetheart in 1979. We moved to Knoxville, TN to begin our life. Determined to prove nay-Sayers from our community wrong, I completed my education and went on to earn an A.S. in computer programming. From 1983-1987, I worked as a computer system’s manager. That’s a glorified title for someone who trouble shoots and maintains system back-ups. After the birth of our first child in 1988, I took early retirement. What have I been doing for the last 25+ years? I am proud to say, I am a SAHM and for most of those years I home-schooled our three children from K-12. Now, the nest is empty.


  • Robin

    This is a tough one. In some ways, I really the version by Wednesday (but it is very upbeat considering the subject matter… although it is problematic with the first three versions, and not just theirs). So, I am voting for Pearl Jam just because it feels sadder.

  • Stephen T. McCarthy

    Hi, CATHY! ~
    You’ve got your very first BOTB out of the way. Goodbye, BOTB Virginity! Hello, BOTB Veteran! (Well, on September 1st you’ll be a Veteran, anyway.)

    I am in total agreement with Chris Fries regarding this tune (which was totally new to me, as far as I can recall). It’s a strange song in that the uptempo beat does not at all match the sentiments of the lyrics. Chris wrote: The effect is like, “My baby’s dead, tra, la, la!”

    I couldn’t agree more; that was perfectly put.

    Of the 4 versions you posted here, I will have to vote for J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, because the lead singer (Wilson, I presume) seems to sing with a bit more passion than the rest and also has the best voice to my ears.

    Also… it’s not likely I would ever vote for Pearl Jam in ANY ‘BOTB’ competition. As far as I’m concerned, Eddie Vedder… CANNOT SING! I think the quality of his voice stinks to begin with, and then when he adds that silly little “quivering” quality to it, it’s like adding garlic icing to the top of a poop cake. (I have no idea who it was that convinced Eddie Vedder that he’s a singer, but I’m sure that person must have been deaf.)

    [Don’t take me too seriously. “Stephens just want to have fun.”]

    And one little request, if you please…

    Far Away Eyes wrote above:
    “Stephen T. McCarthy picked up on it [‘Battle Of The Bands’] and encouraged me to make it a regular thing. I went along for the ride, but probably never would have continued with it without his encouragement. So, today, I actually consider him more the originator and Band Master of this little venture.”

    With that in mind, next ‘BOTB’, would you include a link on your page to my ‘BOTB’ blog also? Muchos Thank Yous! (I know it was just an oversight. Not upset about it in the least.)

    ~ D-FensDogg
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

  • Far Away Eyes

    Hey Cathy it’s nice to officially meet you and even nicer to have to join up on Battle of the Bands.

    I was the originator of BOTB, It was a dark and rainy night and I was home all alone…not really, actually one day in the summer of 2013, I hadn’t posted anything in a while and was too busy to be really creative so I posted two version of the same song and called it Battle of the Bands and asked people to vote on it.

    Stephen T. McCarthy picked up on it and encouraged me to make it a regular thing. I went along for the ride, but probably never would have continued with it without his encouragement. So, today, I actually consider him more the originator and Band Master of this little venture.

    Truth be told, back when others wanted to join in I wasn’t too fond of the idea. See I have never been one of those ‘popular girls’, more by my own choice, but still. Anyway, when some of the more popular bloggers, you know they type who have a lot of followers and receive many, many comments with each blog post, whether it’s about them having the sniffles or something really exciting like BOTB, well, I felt like I would be completely run over. It took me a little time to get used to the idea, but in the end I decided not to care. Like I said my popularity or lack thereof is pretty much my own doing, and I like it that way, so why should I care if they outnumber me in more ways than one.

    Anyway…now that I’ve outed myself as insecure and somewhat self-absorbed, I’m happy to say that today I am really glad you joined up because I have had my musical thinking challenged here in your space. I found that this old curmudgeon could actually learn something new.

    Phew! I’m actually getting to the point.

    I’m most familiar with the version by J. Frank Wilson and I have always kind of liked it. I never considered the upbeat tone of the song against the lyrics, until it was mentioned by others in your comment section (I read the comments before I listened to each version). My exposure to Pearl Jam was not good in the past, and I’m afraid that I was prepared to NOT like their version for a minute, but I really did.

    When you’re used to the others it seems a little slow at first, almost like a record played at the wrong speed, but after a few seconds I found myself feeling more in tune with the lyrics and liked that the male vocalist had a more mournful quality about him.

    After all of that I guess you figured out that my vote is for Pearl Jam and trust me I’m as surprised as anybody else by that choice.

    I’m also glad that you decided to join up with BOTB, and hope you’ll have a great time participating. Excellent choice for your first time out. I look forward to a lot more great BATTLES posted here.

  • cwmartin13

    Wow. This is an all-timer for me. Know JFW and Pearl Jam’s versions by heart, BIG good memories of when PJ’s version came out. Knew of Wednesday’s version, but never got around to listening till now. Got to go for JFW, Wednesday a step behind.

  • DG Hudson

    Wayne Cochran is the classic and gets my vote. The last version totally changes the delivery IMO and doesn’t have the right beat. Never heard the Wednesday version but don’t like it or the second one.

    I’m not a big Wayne Cochran version but to my ears his is the best. I generally prefer original artists to covers by other artists.

  • Chris Fries

    I’m about the same age as you — I was born the year before the original release. I recall the Wilson version, but not so much the original or the Wednesday 70’s version.

    But in almost all the versions, this song is one that strikes me as one of those where the lyrics clash with the tune. The beat and the music tends to be peppy and upbeat, but the lyrics are about death, mourning, and loss. The effect is like, “My baby’s dead, tra, la, la!” I think both of the versions from the 60’s suffer from that.

    I also lived through the seventies and still love much of that era’s music, but it also was an era filled with a lot of plastic schlock and self-indulgent pap (Disco, anyone?). Wednesday’s version has some nice production, but to my ears, borders on cheesy and again, has that jarring disconnect between music and lyrics.

    I actually find the Pearl Jam version to be the one that at least tries to reconcile the music to the meaning of the lyrics — they slow it down and Eddie Vedder’s vocals are a little more mournful, I think. I think the song comes across with much more power this way.

    So Pearl Jam for me.

    • Cathy Kennedy

      What an interesting spin you put on Pearl Jam’s version. I didn’t perceive it this way. Maybe it’s because I’m so use to the 60s style. I always feel such sadness when I hear it because of the lyrics not the music. Thanks for giving your opinion and casting your vote.

  • Arlee Bird

    I don’t recall the versions by Cochran or Wednesday, but I distinctly remember the version by Wilson and loved it when it came out. I was pleasantly surprised when Pearl Jam released their rendition–kind of unexpected from them. They did a decent cover, but it dragged a bit for me and the vocal didn’t seem very fitting to my ears.

    It’s a tough choice between the other 3 since they’re so close in the arrangement. In the end though over the long range I think I’ll go with the version by Wednesday since the 70’s sound is one that I prefer and this group certainly gave “Last Kiss” an infusion of the 70’s.

    Glad to see you join us.

    Tossing It Out

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