Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Noel Coward, Why Do the Wrong People Travel?
Rick Nelson, Travelin' Man.

Or what happened when the Côte d'Azur set wound up on the same flight as the Omaha car salesman convention.

This version of Noel Coward's "Why Do the Wrong People Travel" is a demo recording of a song Coward wrote for his 1961 show Sail Away--it's echt anti-American (and anti-middle-class) snobbery delivered with such gusto that even the worst flyover country rube would have to admit defeat. On Rarities.

Rick Nelson seems slightly miscast as a globe-circling Lothario, but James Burton's guitar and the luxury-line studio production make the sale for him. Nelson's bass player, Joe Osborn, was walking through Imperial Records' office when he heard a demo of "Travelin' Man" being played by Sam Cooke's manager. A while later, Osborn walked in, asked to hear "that traveling song" again, and Cooke's manager obliged him by digging the demo tape out of a garbage can and handing it to him. Nelson's version would be a #1 hit, the biggest of his career.

Recorded 13 March 1961 and released as Imperial 5741. Its b-side was "Hello Mary Lou", a better track, but one that didn't fit this cheap theme!; on Greatest Hits.

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